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Breath (Riders of the Apocalypse) Paperback – 16 Apr 2013

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More About the Author

Jackie Kessler lives in Upstate New York with her husband, two children, two cats, and about 9,000 comics. Visit her at www.jackiekessler.com

Product Description

Breath "In the fourth and final volume of the Riders of Apocalypse series, high school senior Xander Atwood has a secret. Death, the Pale Rider, has lost his way. What happens when the two meet will change the fate of the world"-- Full description

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Amazon.com: 36 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Fantastic Conclusion to a Great Series! 17 April 2013
By JR. Forasteros - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What happens when Death gets suicidal?

Thus begins the final chapter of Jackie Morse Kessler's Riders of the Apocalypse series. The first three books introduced us to Lisabeth, Missy and Billy, three teens who - upon their deaths are tapped to become Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Lisabeth, the anorexic, becomes Famine. Missy, the cutter, becomes War. And Billy, who's bullied, becomes Pestilence. Each of the teens finds life through assuming the mantle of their Horsemen.

The one constant throughout each story has been Death, who appears in the image of Kurt Cobain. Death is clearly not one of the Horsemen, but their master, their leader.

Death is clearly Other. What will Death's story be?

Breath finds Jackie's universe finally unveiled. Death meets a boy named Xander, whose own story gradually becomes more ominous. Death unfolds his story for Xander, and all the questions Jackie's first three books raised are answered.

Despite being wholly Other, we learn that Death, too is susceptible to despair. And in this, Death becomes more human than we thought possible. Because Death is the defining human condition. Death is the one universal constant, the one reality from which there is no escape.

I'm not like you. I'm something else. Something older. Something different. I'm . . . I don't have the word for it. It's not a human word, not in any language. It's not a living concept. I'm other. -- Death

As Death's story entwines more fully with Xander's, Breath becomes Jackie's most human story yet.

The story's worth not spoiling. Suffice to say, if you've been a fan of the series so far, Breath will not disappoint. It's at once bigger and more intimate than any of the previous stories. Jackie's mythology is fully on display, and we even get more of the previous riders' stories.

Just as Death is utterly unlike any of the other Horsemen, and yet completely sustains them, Breath is utterly unlike the previous installments and yet totally necessary.

Breath is ultimately a poignant reminder that there is something bigger than Death: Hope.

Death is what happens when we can't imagine tomorrow. Hope is the conviction that life will go on.

From the first book, Hunger, Jackie's series has explored moments of personal apocalypse. The End of the World is the End of My World. It's what happens when we can't believe that anything comes after this, that the sun will come up tomorrow. Apocalypse is what happens when the world comes crashing down around us.

Living things die. It's just a matter of how and when. But if it makes you feel any better, the purpose of the Horsemen is to avoid having everyone die of disease or starvation or warfare. They prevent the apocalypse. -- Death

As they ride, each of the Horsemen finds hope. Hope that the sun will come up. That life can get better. That the Apocalypse isn't, in fact, the End of the World. This is why Jackie's books work so well. The mythology is much different from the Four Horsemen of Revelation. But at the core, these books are about the same thing: there's something stronger than Death, and that's our conviction that the World will go on, that we're not abandoned. To steal some Stephen King, Hope springs eternal.

Bottom Line: Breath is the rare final installment that delivers on every promise, and then some. Get it. Read it. Love it.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Really Enjoyable Series 16 May 2013
By Shawn Kovacich - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Death has been with the world since the very beginning. But he has finally had enough. He wants to end his existence. But he finds Xander, who gave him a gift when he was younger. Death has returned and talks to Xander about his history and about being other.

It's hard to describe this book without giving too much away. The entire series is about teenagers that are chosen to be the four horsemen of the apocalypse upon their deaths. But it has seemed that Death has been the leader. This is not the truth. He is something more and he too can have desperation.

I have heard of this series but have not read the other books. Don't do this!! You need the other books to understand half of what is going on. After having read the first books in this series, I have learned a lot that is questionable in the first three books but is explained in Breathe.

I really like this series. It talks about serious topics that young adults and adults face all the time. This is one that you need to read.

Shawn Kovacich
Author and Creator of numerous books and DVD's.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Suicidal Death? 3 Mar 2013
By Suzanne R. Arnholt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is the 4th book in the Riders of the Apocalypse series, and it does NOT stand alone. At least half of the book deals with characters from the previous three in such a way that if you are not familiar with the previous works in the series, you will not enjoy this book. This is the story of Death, as one of the 4 riders of the Apocalypse, and Alexander, a shy teen with great artistic talent. When Xander was young, he gave Death a present, and Death has come to repay the favor. Xander asks Death to tell him why, as Death, he has decided to "end it all." Thus starts a roller coaster ride from creation to the present day, with stories from Xander's life, Death's interactions with the other Riders, and a plot twist that will have you flying through the last few chapters. Breath is well worth reading.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Perfection 2 July 2013
By Caroline Waddell - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I received this book back in April before it was published as a giveaway, but this is the fourth and final book in a series, and I wanted to read the first three before I read this one. I am so glad that I did read them all. I absolutely love this series. My favorite was the first in the series, Hunger, and I didn't think I could like any of the others as much as I enjoyed the first. I was wrong. 'Breath' is now officially my favorite in the series.
This book blew me away. Let me first talk about the writing itself. Kessler's style is beautiful and lyrical without being pretentious. She has a way of drawing a picture with words that is so vivid it's like looking at a living picture in your mind. I've said it once and I'll say it again Jackie Morse Kessler takes young adult writing to a whole other level. Her words are carefully chosen and perfect.
Now for the characters and story. The two leads in this one were Xander Atwood and Death. The other books in the series were about teenagers being turned into the riders (famine, war, and pestilence) by Death. This one told two concurrent stories that overlap. Death has become suicidal because he has lost hope and Xander, through a series of fortuitous events, is tasked with stopping him. This is a pretty major task considering if Death dies so does the world. It turns into an origin story of Death, which is different from any other version of Death I've heard and incredibly interesting. It overlaps with Xander's own story of betrayal and loss of hope. The whole story is unique, interesting, and addictive. I tore through the pages and couldn't wait to find out how it would end, which turned out to be creative and unpredictable.
There were also sections about the other riders from the first three books and brought satisfying closure to all of them. All of the characters, including the ones from previous books, are so well drawn and I couldn't help but care about them all. I also never thought I would get the chance to truly understand Death, who up until this point was a very mysterious character. Amazingly, even though I got a much better understanding of Death he still maintained that bit of mystery that makes him so interesting.
Overall I loved this book. It was well written and a perfect ending to a really good book series. After reading the first three I wasn't sure how it could possibly end, but this book brought closure to every character in all of the books, and did it eloquently. I can't wait to read what Jackie Morse Kessler writes next. She has most definitely gained a lifelong fan in me.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Stunning end to one of my favorite series' 16 April 2013
By Countess Chocula - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I still feel emotionally drained and a little incoherent after finishing Breath, a book it seems I've been waiting years for. Since he first showed up looking an awful lot like Kurt Cobain in Lisa's basement in Loss, I was fascinated by Death and couldn't wait until Morse Kessler got to his book. Now that its release is here, I know I'll miss the Riders of the Apocalypse quartet but his story was so exquisite that at least for now, I can't be sad. That's not to say the Kleenex weren't piling up next to my chair though.

Through the millennia of his existence, Death has always had reason to continue his own cycle of reincarnation after reincarnation. He created his Horsemen and their steeds, watched humanity evolve and when the burdens of his job became too much, found a place called The Slate that he could retreat to, to gain perspective, unwind, let his hair down. He's been feeling depressed, so much that his own pale steed tells him he needs to take a break. When he heads to The Slate, what he sees (or doesn't) robs him of all hope, sending him on one last trip to see a boy before he lets loose the Apocalypse with his own final death.

But then there's Xander. Exactly as Morse Kessler has done in the other books in the series, she gives the power in the story to a teen that may or may not know they need it. This time, Xander seems like a completely normal kid, having a normal life. He's an art geek, popular in a general sort of way and is asking out the girl of his dreams he's had a crush on forever. Life seems good, if you don't count the weird lapses in time he's having, the blackouts, the feeling out of step with everyone and a sense that time is running out for everyone. When he walks out onto his 30th floor apartment's balcony and sees Death sitting there, it's almost anti-climactic, except for the part that really is afraid of heights (or as Death puts it, is afraid of falling and splattering on the ground).

I loved Death from the beginning of the series and I fell for Xander early in the story, so when these two came together, it looked like it was going to be a bittersweet moment. Death isn't exactly known for bringing good news or choices to characters, but in this case, recognizing his depression and suicidal intentions, Xander asks him to tell his story.

Barely anything had been revealed about Death's origins in the earlier books and he always seemed like such a larger-than-life (heh) personality that even considering where he came from or that he may not have wanted his job or the scope of it, wasn't something I did. I started losing count of how many Kleenex I went through as Death's story poured out - and it wasn't just his story. There were interludes from the Horsemen and from Xander where the impending crisis was palpable. As the conversation with Death went on, as it did with the other books, there was a brilliant scene when the character understood that weight of responsibility was his now and he had the choice to accept or reject it. I'm giving away how much of a wimpy wimp I am, but those particular scenes are always so powerful to me, I'm always a soggy mess, but this time, I had some suspicions about what was happening behind Death's own story and it was even worse.

I'm an utter disaster by this point in the story. I loved Death with his funny pale steed who was always quick with a freakishly hipster comment and even accepted that he'd hijacked Kurt Cobain's body (sorry, not a Nirvana fan). The concept that he could be depressed was a foreign thing - Death is supposed to be forever, right? What would the end of the world be like with no death, war, famine or pestilence, nothing in balance?

Even knowing that if I let myself get too close to the story and I'd end up gutted at the end, there was no way to keep myself distant from it. Sure enough, when things played out and Xander's horrible story was revealed, Morse Kessler had me right in her hands, which are thankfully also always capable of putting me back together.

I can't finish reviewing Breath without adding comments about the whole series because for me, they're connected. Each book has had a teen confronting a devastating issue, yes, but in each book, I feel like in places, Morse Kessler is writing directly to me. She has the most incredible ability to weave these complex, painful stories and make them universally relatable. I've never been so touched or affected by a series of books and I can only thank Morse Kessler for that. Breath was a brilliant, perfect ending to everything.

A copy of this book was provided to me for review by the publisher
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