I was very wary of this book because Hunger
was such a profoundly good read that I feared this one would fall short. My fears were completely unfounded because Kessler
has written a truly masterful sequel. Much like the author, I have a very limited experience with self-injury and I expected to have a bit of trouble warming to Missy. And it did take me at least a third of the book before I really started to understand her in a way and her turmoil, which I completely attribute to Kessler
's skill at exploring the inner-workings of the teenaged mind. While possibly not as visceral as her exploration of eating disorders -- and I can only think that's to be expected given she lacks the firsthand experience with self-injury -- Missy truly comes alive on the page in a way that is raw and gripping. On the outside she may be bottling in all her emotions, but there is a depth to her that practically leaps off the page.
Again, I remain impressed by the scope of the story itself and how completely immersive it is. It manages to retain the feel of the previous novel and continue threads into the ongoing series and still be entirely different in scope and feel. Above all, for me at least, doesn't sensationalize violence or aggrandize the idea of war. While these themes are explored in varying detail, the focus is essentially on Missy's internal struggle with her emotions and essentially her battle to achieve control. I also find it commendable that Kessler
has once again written about a tough issue that many teens struggle with and tackle it in a compelling and unrelenting way without proselytizing. Missy's cutting is not without its shock value, but is never presented in any other way but tangible and completely real.
It's not often that I read something so fundamentally astounding that I have to struggle to find words, but it seems to be a systemic issue for me with this series. It's a rare combination to find a read that is purely entertaining, astonishingly powerful and impeccably written; truly, I was swept away. Not that I'm complaining. I am desperately intrigued to see where this series goes from here! And I rather like the ambiguous nature this book has left us with Missy and the quartet as a whole.[Originally posted at my website.]