Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler

Genre: YA contemp/fantasy
Pages: 228 (paperback)
To Be Published: April 18th 2011 by Harcourt Graphia
Recommended for: fans of contemporary, edgy YA as well as paranormal fiction

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.

My Take:

"Thou art War.  Thou art the Red Rider of the Apocalypse.  Rock on."-- Death

I usually try not to review ARCs until closer to their release date (this one doesn't come out until April), but I want to review this one while the book is still very fresh in my mind.  Rage is a different kind of novel, with a different kind of paranormal premise and a very different kind of heroine in Missy.  I haven't read Hunger, the first book in the series, but luckily the two seem to be more like companion novels and either one is fine to read first.  The Four Horseman of the Apocalypse were a new concept for me, something I'd never heard of outside of a Metallica song, so I had to go forth and question the Google Overlord.  Basically they're like the human incarnations of War, Famine, Death, and Pestilence (Plague) who run amok about the world on their steeds, causing turmoil in their wake.

Our heroine Missy is chosen by Death (who resembles Kurt Cobain and is as talented a rock god guitarist as he is a psychopomp) to become the new War after she accidentally kills herself with a razor blade.  Missy is a Cutter-- self-mutilater, and has been for quite some time.  This is an edgy subject at best, one which luckily is getting a lot more attention in YA fiction than in years past, and Jackie Morse Kessler writes Missy's character, her pain and bottled-up anger, perfectly.  At first I had a difficult time understanding why Missy keeps cutting even after she's transformed into War, just because the book deals so much more with the emotional side of it rather than the logical reasons beyond it, in Missy's case.  I've had friends who cut or burn themselves, and this book made me realize this even more: it doesn't take much, not as much as you'd think.  The way Missy is treated by the people at her school, even her own sister-- the constant name-calling and vandalizing of her things-- is pretty terrible, but very well-portrayed.  

Rage has the brutally honest feel of an edgy contemporary novel, but the concept of the Horseman and her transformation into War make it a dark, gritty fantasy.  The writing is fantastic-- never slow for a second, and the characters, especially Missy, draw you into the story immediately.  Missy is an angry, conflicted heroine, as both War and as her ordinary teenage self.  She must learn to balance her icy exterior with her inner rage, peace and passiveness with the holy terror that is War.  I was fairly satisifed with the resolution of the novel, but did wish there was a little more justice served to Missy's ex-boyfriend and the people who were so cruel to her.  My favorite character by far is Death, who is Missy's sort-of love interest (yeah, that's weird, but in a completely awesome way).  Maybe that's just because I love Nirvana, but I loved how he seemed so human despite being the leader of all the Horsemen.  I can't wait to read his story in the fourth and last book in the series!  Pestilence is the Horseman next up, with the third book Loss scheduled to be released in 2012.  I'm making a prediction (though I'm unfortunately no psychic and there's no synopsis yet) that the new Pestilence will be a teenage cancer-patient or a victim of some other disease.  Anyway, all babble aside, I really loved Rage and can't wait to read the other three books.

Cover: 5/5 (so freaking cool)
Premise: 5/5
Characters: 5/5
Plot: 4/5
Overall: 5/5


Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

I am one of the few that absolutely lovedddd Hunger, so I've been dying to read Rage. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, and I can't wait to read it even more now! Great review :)

Ava said...

I haven't read either Hunger or Rage, but seriously, they look like such a great concept! I really want to read them. So interesting sounding.

Kat said...

@ Melissa-- I have seen that the reviews for these two books were very mixed. Maybe this series is one of those you just love or hate. Glad to hear you enjoyed Hunger! :)

@Ava-- I know, such an amazing and unique concept! I'd never read anything about the Four Horsemen before.

Nic @ Irresistible Reads said...

I need to read this series. I like that it mixes paranormal with real teen problems. Awesome review :)

Alyssa said...

I just finished Hunger yesterday! Can't wait to read Rage =)

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