Friday, March 11, 2011

Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler

Title: Rage (ARC)
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Series: Horseman of the Apocalypse #2
Expected date of publication: April 8, 2011
Publisher: Harcourt Graphia
Pages: 288 (paperback)
I received a copy from NetGalley for early review.

Missy didn’t mean to cut so deep. But after the party where she was humiliated in front of practically everyone in school, who could blame her for wanting some comfort? Sure, most people don’t find comfort in the touch of a razor blade, but Missy always was . . . different.

That’s why she was chosen to become one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War. Now Missy wields a new kind of blade—a big, brutal sword that can cut down anyone and anything in her path. But it’s with this weapon in her hand that Missy learns something that could help her triumph over her own pain: control.

A unique approach to the topic of self-mutilation, Rage is the story of a young woman who discovers her own power and refuses to be defeated by the world. –Goodreads


Even though I didn't think that Hunger, the first book in the Horseman of the Apocalypse series was AH-mazing, it was still good enough to give the sequel a try. And I'm glad; Kessler has significantly stepped up her game for this book. Not only did Missy turn out to be totally different that I had predicted, but the internal struggle she faces to remain herself and stay strong when ridiculed by her peers was inspiring. Again, a difficult subject for teens is approached in a unique way, granting a new perspective to those who are and aren't familiar with the topic of self mutilation.

Though this book begins the exact same way that Hunger did, it can stand alone. Kessler restates the rules of her fantasy world and uses the opportunity to build on what she has already created. Readers who enjoyed Hunger will rejoice in knowing that Pestilence, Death, and Famine show up more frequently in Rage, and play a larger role than they did before. Missy's sharp perceptions solve many of the unanswered questions about the Horseman from book one, and are able to bring depth to the group's problems. This time around the other characters actually felt like characters, instead of shallow pawns written in just to move the plot along.

At first, Missy kind of pissed me off. A few pages into the book I ran across the line, "Missy wore black because it was the color of her soul," and immediately assumed I would have problems with her as the main character. I loathe characters who whine and act emo without real reason to, and for a while I couldn't figure out why Missy was so melodramatic all the time. Her life seemed okay. But as the story progressed I realized that her situation was...complicated. After a horrible (and I mean horrible) prank is pulled on her, she changed and began to grow on me. In the face of total humiliation, she showed incredible passion, courage, and weakness which rounded out to create a realistic and flawed character worth cheering for. Watching her struggle with the people in school while waging war against herself was an incredible journey, one that concludes with a satisfying ending. Seriously, the ending was phenomenal. One of my biggest complaints about Hunger was that it ended just as the story started. But in Rage, the story ends exactly when it should and Missy has the kind of revelation you want every main character to have in order to change their life for the better.

This was one of those rare times that I’m glad that my first impression of a book was totally and completely wrong. Rage made me want to cry, laugh, cheer, curse, cry some more and then hug somebody. I can honestly say that not too many books have that effect on me these days. Even if you haven't read Hunger, I highly suggest that you get your hands on a copy of Rage when it comes out. You won't find a book that talks about war (the ones within and without) quite the same way.


P.S. For my review of Hunger, click HERE.