The Art Of Starving
Author: Sam J. Miller
Genre/Themes/Demo: YA, Contemporary, LGBTQIA+
Release Date: July 11th 2017
Page Count: 372
Initial Post Reading Thoughts
This is another one of those stories that I just need to think about a little longer before I can write any kind of decent review… This was definitely a strange one and there were a few things I liked and a few things I didn’t.
Matt hasn’t eaten in days. His stomach stabs and twists inside, pleading for a meal. But Matt won’t give in. The hunger clears his mind, keeps him sharp—and he needs to be as sharp as possible if he’s going to find out just how Tariq and his band of high school bullies drove his sister, Maya, away. Matt’s hardworking mom keeps the kitchen crammed with food, but Matt can resist the siren call of casseroles and cookies because he has discovered something: the less he eats the more he seems to have . . . powers. The ability to see things he shouldn’t be able to see. The knack of tuning in to thoughts right out of people’s heads. Maybe even the authority to bend time and space. So what is lunch, really, compared to the secrets of the universe? Matt decides to infiltrate Tariq’s life, then use his powers to uncover what happened to Maya. All he needs to do is keep the hunger and longing at bay. No problem. But Matt doesn’t realize there are many kinds of hunger… and he isn’t in control of all of them.
What I Liked
The subject matter. My favourite type of contemporary novels are the ones that deal with more mature and serious themes. The Art Of Starving deals with the topic of eating disorders. What I liked about this was that it dealt with the eating disorder of a young teenaged boy. Typically when eating disorders are discussed, especially in young adult novels, it is almost always about a teenaged girl. We have to remember that not only young girls suffer from eating disorders and I’m glad that I found a book that young boys may be able to relate to. On top of this, The Art Of Starving also discusses alcoholism as well as other social issues. I’m glad that Sam J. Miller was able to bring forth these issues in a young adult novel.
What I Didn’t Like
The strangeness of it all? While this novel dealt with some pretty serious content, it also managed to mix that in with a kind of magical realism? I’m not really sure if I’m using the right words to describe this, but the story got really strange. I understand that this was possibly the main character hallucinating due to his illness, but it just got a little too weird for me. I usually like all things strange and unusual, but I just couldn’t get into this aspect of the story in this specific setting.
I don’t really know what else to say about this one other than that it was just a very neutral read for me. I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it. Nothing really stood out, it was just an average story for me.
About The Author
Sam J. Miller’s debut novel The Art of Starving (HarperTeen, July 2017), rooted in his own adolescent experience with an eating disorder, was called “Funny, haunting, beautiful, relentless and powerful… a classic in the making” by Book Riot. His second novel, Blackfish City, will be published by Ecco Press in 2018. A finalist for multiple Nebula Awards along with the World Fantasy and Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Awards, he won the 2013 Shirley Jackson Award.
Thank you for reading!