The end of the world has never looked better: Famine by Laura Thalassa

Famine, the third book in The Four Horsemen series, is one of my most anticipated releases of 2020, and it did not disappoint! The Four Horsemen series is set in a not-too-distant apocalyptic future on Earth. The Four Horsemen, Pestilence, War, Famine, and Death have come to Earth to end humanity. 

My thoughts (spoiler free): Famine is a worthy third book in The Four Horsemen series. The main character Ana subverts and pushes back against stereotypes in such a refreshing way that we need to see more of. The characters are complex- they struggle, they breakdown, they fight back, making them relatable and likable. The plot will shock you and leave you wanting more. 

My Rating: 5/5

Now, for the long, spoilery version of my thoughts. If you hate spoilers, beware!

The first two books in the series, Pestilence and War, had a plot that was very similar. The main character meets/is kidnapped by the horseman, eventually they develop feelings for each other and their relationship progresses, and finally after struggling with his purpose, the horseman gives it up and they go on with lives. I enjoyed this plot template, but I admit reading it three times could become a drag. However, after starting Famine I quickly realized that this book was going to break away from the previously established template.

At the beginning of Famine, Ana, our main character, and Famine already have a history, and as a result their relationship and feelings towards each other are more complicated and developed. This immediately created a dynamic between Ana and Famine that was very enjoyable to read. It humanized Famine right from the get go. In the first two books, it takes almost the whole novel to fully develop the horsemen’s humanity, but with Famine we see it from the beginning. 

Speaking of Famine, he was surprisingly hilarious and he seemed like the most human of all the horsemen. When he’s anxious he taps his fingers, and he also mindless hums and whistles to himself when he’s doing something. Famine is also by far the most emotionally evolved horsemen. He cries and has mental breakdowns, and it is so refreshing reading about multifaceted characters. He isn’t good or bad- he’s somewhere in that gray area in the middle. One moment that made me laugh out loud is wen Ana kicks Famine the groin, and he “let’s out a painted grunt, releasing me to cup himself.” I laughed because it’s such a human moment happening between a deity-like figure and a normal human woman. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s absolutely gorgeous.

Now on to our heroine- Ana de Silva. Laura Thalassa writes a female protagonist like no other. They push back against stereotypes in such a refreshing way. At the beginning of the novel, Ana works at a bordella, or brothel, and she totally owns it. She doesn’t let anyone shame her for her work or what she’s had to do to survive. Her comebacks when people do try to shame her are absolutely hilarious and made me laugh out loud. Laura Thalassa also writes the most nuanced emotions into her characters. I book like this could easily go down the Stockholm Syndrome route, but she she always manages to stay away from it in the most natural way. For example, at the beginning of the novel when Famine and Ana reunite for the first time in years, Ana wants Famine to remember her. As a reader, I was thinking why on Earth would she want him to remember her? But then Laura Thalassa gives us a look into Ana’s inner dialogue and it all makes sense- she’s trying to assuage her own guilt about the past and justify her past actions. That’s such a human thing to feel- we all try to justify our past actions and rationalize what we’ve done. This all serves to make Ana an incredibly relatable and strong protagonist. 

About halfway through Famine I was very pleasantly surprised with what I was reading. Famine is written markedly different from Pestilence and War, and his relationship with Ana was so fun to read about. So there should be no issues, right? Wrong. I noticed about 80 percent into the book that things were going too well. The first two books followed the pattern of the horsemen and protagonist developing a relationship, having small fights that eventually lead to some influential moment that causes the horsemen to change his ways, and then after that it’s good. The climax usually came about 80 percent of the way into the book. Back to reading Famine, I got to 90 percent done and nothing bad had happened yet! Every reader knows that feeling when you’re reading, and you’re close to the end but sh*t hasn’t hit the fan yet. Well boy, did it hit the fan in the last forty pages. Long story short, Death comes to kill Ana, but Famine makes a deal with him. In order to save her, he has to resume his purpose. But then Ana, being the incredible woman she is, stabs Death. And then we end with the most exciting cliffhanger ever: “we’re going to get my brothers. It’s time this ended, once and for all.” There is nothing, and I repeat nothing, I want more than Sara, Miriam, and Ana together. Sara will be older, and her kids will be grown up, and it will just be so fantastic. 

Needless to say, I enjoyed Famine tremendously. It gave us so many little fun moments, like finding out Famine and War interacted on Earth, and learning we will see the horsemen together in the final book. It also left me with so many questions, like who saved Ana the first time? If it was Death, then why would he try to kill her later? What changed. Personally I love when books leave me with unanswered questions, and I will be anxiously awaiting the publication of Death

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