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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of A Trillian Books, 16 May 2011
By 
Tasha (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Rage (Horsemen of the Apocalypse) (Paperback)
Melissa Miller is a cutter, a self-harmer. She deals by bleeding out the bad. It makes her feel in control. After an incident involving her ex-boyfriend and public humiliation, Missy accidentally cuts too deep and finds herself face to face with Death - quite literally. Death offers her an option - to become one of the Horsemen of the Apocolypse: War.

Like in the first book of the series, Hunger, in which the protagonist is an anorexic who becomes Famine, Rage deals with an extremely sensitive issue in a fantastic way. The self-harming is in no way glamourised nor does it hold back on the details. It's not preachy either. It just tells it like it is. With no personal experience of self-harming (either first or second hand) I found this book to be an incredible insight and by the end of it felt like I had some understanding as to the feelings and emotions behind cutting.

At times this book can be very serious and dark but this is offset with humour, usually in the form of Missy's conversations with Death, who the author has portrayed as the laid back rockstar with a dry sense of humour. I really liked this characterisation and it certainly gave a few light moments in the book.

I'm looking forward to reading the next instalment of the Horsemen of the Apocolypse series, Loss, which is stars Pestilence. I'm interested to find out what issue this rider is dealing with and how the author handles it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw and Powerful, 9 May 2011
This review is from: Rage (Horsemen of the Apocalypse) (Paperback)
After I read Hunger by this author, I ordered Rage within minutes and read it as soon as I took it out of the packaging. If I thought Hunger delivered a punch, it was nothing compared to the punch I received off Rage. The story is intense, powerful and raw, whilst still keeping the black humour from the previous book.

Missy is a self-harmer and like Lisa, from the previous book, has Death appear on her doorstep at a time when her death is close to hand by offering her to be War, the Red Rider of the Four Horsemen. From the first meeting, you know the relationship between Missy and Death will be different than the one Lisa had with him.

When we follow Missy in her miserable existence, you feel everything she's feeling. The descriptions were strong enough to make the reader live Missy's life as she went through the humiliation brought on her in front of all her school peers. You feel like your living in the house where she argues with her sister and hides everything from her parents. Powerful.

Then you have Death, looking like a familiar rock star that isn't with us anymore, keeping a serious matter light with his humour. Just when you think you can't handle Missy's misery and want to put the book down for relief, there is Death to help guide her a little more, so you keep reading. War is Death's handmaiden, so he has a vested interest in seeing Missy through her trials.

I'm not doing this book justice. I really do urge you all to read it. The writing is strong and amazing. The characters are rounded and flawed, just like real people. The plot is spot on. It opens your eyes to a serious subject and makes you think about how hard your own life really is. Go. Read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too, 11 April 2011
By 
TeensReadToo "Eat. Drink. Read. Be Merrier." (All Over the US & Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Rage (Horsemen of the Apocalypse) (Paperback)
When I heard a young librarian "book talk" Kessler's HUNGER, I took a chance and ordered both HUNGER and her second novel for teens, called RAGE. I'm happy that I did.

HUNGER grabbed my attention with its unique combination of anorexia and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It was a powerful book that didn't talk down to teens about a serious issue.

RAGE has the same Horsemen of the Apocalypse connection, but its focus is on the subject of cutting. This is another topic that mainly involves teens and young adults. The real truth behind the frightening behavior will no doubt remain a secret to adults, which makes it even more important to let teens know others share their pain.

Missy is dealing with multiple issues - a fairly new breakup with her boyfriend, Adam; taunts from classmates about her choice of wardrobe; a younger sister who recently became an annoying freshman; and parents who say they understand but still pile on the pressure. Relief from all the stress is hidden away in a lockbox in Missy's closet, and the evidence of that relief can be found in the form of scars on her arms, stomach, and inner thighs. Missy cuts herself with a razor blade.

Just as HUNGER begins, an early scene in RAGE details the visit of a deliveryman arriving at Missy's front door with a mysterious package. She doesn't understand the veiled message from the deliveryman and really doesn't have time to waste, so she grabs the package, slams the door in his face, and carries the box to her room, where she shoves it on the top shelf of her closet.

She receives another visit from the deliveryman she comes to know as Death on the night of Kevin's party. When Adam approaches her at the party and says he wants to make things right with her again, Missy falls for his ploy and ends up being humiliated in front of everyone at the party. The only thing she can think about is running home to her lockbox and the release she can gain from the silver blade.

Unknown to her family and friends, Missy hides in her room and cuts and cuts until, fingers slippery with blood, she cuts too deeply and she realizes her life might be over. That's when she remembers the package stashed on the shelf above her. When she is finally able to knock it from its perch and open it, she finds out the true purpose Death has for her.

Becoming one of the Four Horsemen, "War," gives Missy a glimpse of the power she has hidden within. As she witnesses the tragedies of the world while on the back of her blood-red steed, she learns she has the power to defeat and deal with the stress and pressure that make her miserable.

Both RAGE and HUNGER by Jackie Morse Kessler are worth adding to your collection. Her unusual approach to problems faced by teens today might be just the answer for readers dealing with similar issues.

Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
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5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and Insightful, 30 Oct 2012
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This review is from: Rage (Horsemen of the Apocalypse) (Paperback)
I was a huge fan of Hunger, book one in the Riders of the Apocalypse series, so I was very excited to start the second book, Rage. Once again, I find the idea of Riders of the Apocalypse very interesting and the way Kessler weaves them into the modern world is fantastic. I think that this series is one of my all time favourites, the supernatural elements and human emotions mixed together make a super unique idea for a novel. Where Hunger was focused on an eating disorder, Rage was focused on self harm. Hunger focused on Famine, the black rider of the apocalypse, where as Rage focused on War the Red rider of the apocalypse.

I loved the idea behind Rage, Missy, a self harming teenage girl who uses a blade to relieve her pain, is chosen to personify War. War the one who controls and unleashes anger upon the world. Missy needs to come to terms with her own rage and embrace War so that the world remains in balance. Missy's life is already spiralling out of control but one night puts a stop to it all. One night she cuts too deep. The only thing that stops her from dying is Death himself. Here he tells her that she needs to embrace War and take up her role and arms of office. She will need to learn to control war, before war persuades her to do more harm to herself. Will she be able to accept the horrors that lie within or will it be to late?

Missy is the main character, she is cutter. She cuts to relieve herself from the pain that other people cause her. It's the only way she knows how to cope and she's been doing it for a while. She isn't doing it for attention or to fit in, she is mentally ill and believes this is the only way to cope. She has no one to talk too so she takes comfort from the blade. Missy is an outcast, she doesn't fit in anywhere in the high school cliches. As a reader we get to know her personally, we don't see her as the black goth wannabe that everyone else sees. We see Missy as teenager girl who is ill. For everyone else she wears a cold mask, held in place by sheer will, but behind it she is crumbling and the blade is calling her name. Missy is full of anger and pain, yet she has an attitude and could if she wished beat the crap out of the others. That's what makes her the perfect War, the violence is there waiting at the surface but instead she needs to find a balance. She needs to be able to live her life knowing she can cope without the blade and not caring what others say about her. Missy really grows in this book and it's incredible to see the realistic way the author has done this.

Jackie Morse Kessler has a real talent as a writer. She tackles some harsh subjects in such ways that make the reader understand and feel sympathetic towards the characters. She handles the subjects brilliantly, she doesn't shy away from the harsh reality of things such as self harm. Instead she makes others understand the pain these people are going through. These are very powerful books and it really does give you an insight into a sufferers mind. She shows the reader what it's really like, she doesn't fluff it up with rainbows or overdo it dramatically, she does it realistically. That way many people can relate and learn life lessons from her books. Rage is an incredible book in it's own right, so much talent went into it and you can tell. Rage is the powerful and insightful second novel in the Riders of the Apocalypse series and I can't wait to see what's next!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Painful topic handled with care, 3 Feb 2012
This review is from: Rage (Horsemen of the Apocalypse) (Paperback)
After Hunger, Rage is the second book in the Riders of the Apocalypse series, a quartet of books in which Jackie Morse Kessler approaches difficult topics in a very direct and yet sensitive manner. In Rage she tackles self mutilation or cutting as it's more commonly known. Cutting is a frightening thing, one that is very hard to understand for those not suffering from that compulsion. It's very hard to believe someone would cause themselves pain on purpose. In addition, it looks scary; it's bloody and leaves scars. In short, this is not the most comfortable of topics. Yet Kessler handles it with aplomb, trying to explain to the reader the why of Missy's cutting, showing why it's wrong without ever condemning her main character for what she does.

Kessler shows how trapped Missy is in her behaviour very skilfully. She shows that even if Missy wants to escape her blade (hence her mantra) she feels there is no other way, because talking to anyone would only confirm she was nuts. Missy is relatable in her angst and anger, however she's got more of it than your regular teen. We don't really get an explanation on why Missy has such anxiety and anger issues, but then again, sometimes there just aren't any reasons for them other than a combination of character traits, the onset of puberty and just plain bad luck. Some people are more vulnerable to anxiety issues than others without there being a specific reason, just as some people are more prone to weight gain than others. And while it would, perhaps, have been easier if there had been a clear cut reason for Missy's problems, such as a trauma or abuse, I like that Kessler went the more nebulous angst and anger route, as it brings home the point that this could happen to anyone, even those you don't expect it to happen to.

One of the great pleasures of this book was visiting with the characters of Death and Famine again. I loved these characters in the previous book, even though Famine isn't Lisa from the first book I think, and in this book it becomes clear that the Aspects the Riders personify have their own characters and memories, as shown by some of the dialogue between Famine and Missy shows. Death still looks and sounds like Kurt Cobain and it bears repeating, that made this former grunge girl squee--even if I was more into Pearl Jam than Nirvana! Plus we got to meet Pestilence in the flesh this time. This is one cool character and I can't wait to see how Kessler will work him into his own story in the next book. One of the things Kessler did very well was to simplify the rather overwhelming concepts of the four aspects, in this case War. She manages to bring the concept of War down to a personal scale... war isn't just death and destruction, it's also the inner struggle with a difficult decision or the anger at a (perceived) slight at work or school. It makes the decisions Missy has to make less intimidating and more acceptable.

One thing that was a bit tricky was that there is a lot of sexiness in this book between Death and Missy. This was confusing, because on the one hand, eww as Death is ancient and Missy is just sixteen. On the other hand, not so eww as Missy is not just sixteen, she's also suffused by the spirit of War, and Death and War have been close companions forever. So it's up to personal taste on which side you come down. I found it less convincing, both because at times it made Missy seem a little suicidal and because, seriously, someone as screwed up as Missy shouldn't be getting into any relationship until she's figured stuff out.

I liked the ending of the book, though the story was resolved rather quickly. I was really glad the 'Missy killed her cat'-comment gets clarified in the end, as that was bothering me a lot during the narrative, because how can you like someone who deliberately kills their cat? As in Hunger, the end emphasises that there is no magic cure, Missy will struggle every day to stay off the blade and it will take a long time before she's close to cured. I said this in the review for Hunger as well, but I really think this is important to stress. Too often on TV, in films and in books, once someone decides to change their life, it seems to happen instantly and without much fuss and that just isn't true for the issues Kessler addresses in her books and I really appreciate the fact that she doesn't hide from that fact.

Rage is another impressive entry in the Riders series and I'm looking forward to the next instalment, Loss, which will be released in March. I think these books are not just entertaining, but also very educational and as such should be on reading lists of secondary schools everywhere. Even if you're no longer a teen, Rage is a book that deserves to be read, not just for the awareness it raises about self harming, but because it is an impressive, thought-provoking read, that educates without preaching to the reader. Go buy and read this book and its predecessor, Hunger. Not only will you be rewarded with a good read, you'll also be supporting a good cause, as part of the proceeds go to charity.
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Rage (Horsemen of the Apocalypse)
Rage (Horsemen of the Apocalypse) by Jackie Morse Kessler (Paperback - 4 April 2011)
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