Rage by Jackie Morse KesslerRage by Jackie Morse Kessler
Riders of the Apocalypse # 2
Harcourt Graphia
Number of pages: 213
My copy: ebook review copy from Netgalley

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.

* * *

Missy didn’t mean to cut so deep. She didn’t mean to, really. All she wanted was the comfort of the blade against her skin, the pain and the blood. She didn’t want to hurt herself seriously, she just wanted to make the pain of being humiliated by her ex-boyfriend go away. But as she lay dying, Death intervenes and gives her a new blade – the sword of one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, War. Now Missy is also War and her sword can cut down anything and anyone that goes in her path. The power was addictive, but Missy must learn control else she is rid of her title and will be back in her room dying from cutting herself too deep.

It’s been a while since I last read Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler and I almost totally forgot about having its sequel, Rage in my Kindle. I enjoyed Hunger a lot, so I was looking forward to reading the next book about War even if I had to read the last few pages of Hunger first to remember what happened to Famine.

Missy didn’t mean to cut so deep. This line alone was an indicator of what kind of issue book Rage will be. Rage deals with self-mutilation, where the person deliberately injures themselves without any intent of suicide. I remember there were days the older sister of a friend was showing us how to cut out a name on her arm so the scars would form the word — a different kind of tattoo. It was kind of fascinating, but I was too chicken to really do it. That, and I don’t have any name to carve on my skin, anyway.

But that was the closest I got to seeing self-mutilation face to face. I’m ashamed to admit that this has become a little joke among my friends and I, especially when we talk about something sad or “emo” and we’d often make slash-wrist movements to emphasize the point. I realize now that that may not be the most sensitive thing to do after I read Rage, especially since self-mutilation is really no laughing matter.

I liked Rage. It was different from Hunger, mostly because of the main character. Missy is angry and sad and her reactions to things around her. The War persona fit her personality because she bore so many grudges. They weren’t senseless grudges, though — what happened to her was really bad, and it saddens me to think that it may happen or have already happened in real life. I couldn’t relate to Missy, but I really sympathized with her so bad and I wished the people around her would give her a break. The main issue was handled well enough that it gives the reader information on what it is about and why they do it, and how to find a way out of it, all creatively wrapped around the idea of what War can do not to bring war but peace. That being said, though, the fantasy elements took a bit of time getting used to and it took me a while to connect how War could be helpful instead of destructive. Nevertheless, it was still pretty cool and engaging.

Rage falls into the category of books that are important to read because of the issues it tackle. I really applaud the author for doing this, and I can’t wait to read about Pestilence (the book is entitled Loss, and the premise sounds awesome) and Death in the next installments of the Riders of the Apocalypse series.

Rating: [rating=3]

Other reviews:
All of Everything
The Book Smugglers

Reviews of other books in the series:
#1 Hunger

BTT: Current

Booking Through Thursday

I finally caught Booking Through Thursday on time! I have been meaning to do a BTT post for a while but I always forget, and I’ve always been busy just before the week ends. I thought this week’s BTT is simple, but it also helps me to talk about something that the book bloggers have been abuzz with since this weekend. This week’s question is:

What are you reading right now? What made you choose it? Are you enjoying it? Would you recommend it? (And, by all means, discuss everything, if you’re reading more than one thing!)

Speak by Laurie Halse AndersonRight now I am reading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I have been planning to get a copy of the book for the longest time but it wasn’t really a priority book for me, you know, the book I absolutely must have and read now. I figure it’s a book that I will eventually get to read, but not anytime soon, you know?

But last weekend kind of bumped this book way way up in my TBR. Long story made short: Wesley Scroggins, associate professor of management at Missouri State University and Christian, wrote a piece about how Speak is a filthy and immoral book, equating it to soft porn for the two rape scenes in the book. He moved to ban Speak and two other books, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut out of the school’s reading list because of that reason, and of course, everyone was outraged. Who wouldn’t be?

Now I haven’t read Slaughterhouse Five, but I’ve read Twenty Boy Summer and while I it wasn’t a favorite book of mine, I didn’t think it was bad enough to be banned. People who know me in person know that I am a Christian and I stand by my beliefs firmly, but I don’t avoid every single book that has sex in it. I may not like it, but it doesn’t mean that no one else should read it because it (and I quote Mr. Scroggins): “…glorifies drunken teen parties, where teen girls lose their clothes in games of strip beer pong. In this book, drunken teens also end up on the beach, where they use their condoms to have sex.

Seriously now.

Anyway, so I’m reading Speak right now, and I’m only about halfway done, and my heart is going out to Melinda. This is a girl who has serious issues of depression and trauma, someone who badly needs help, who needs a friend, who needs someone to listen to. I already know what will happen in the story, but that doesn’t lessen the impact of how Melinda is dealing with her situation.

Melinda’s story is heartbreaking. It’s not easy, and this is just fiction. Melinda isn’t a real person, and my heart is already going out to her. What more for girls who actually had the same experience as Melinda? What more for girls who are ostracized by their friends because they do not know the truth and the girl is too scared to talk about what happened? Because let’s face it: date rape happens. It can happen to anyone. In a perfect world, the victim would have a supportive family, understanding friends and she be able to speak up, move on and be a survivor instead of a victim of that crime. It is possible. But we don’t live in a perfect world. We live in this broken world, one that is filled with sin and brokenness and not everyone has a good support system to help them get over the trauma.

This is why books like Speak exist. To talk about issues that we are afraid to talk about. To help victims find hope, to give them a friend, albeit fictional. You know what they say about books being friends? Well, Mr. Scroggins, it’s true, and sometimes books can be the only friends that some of the rape victims have.

I don’t know if there is such a thing as banned books in the Philippines, since I’m not familiar with our library systems and all, but I hope it doesn’t reach that point here. While I agree that some books may need to be reviewed and discretion should be advised for some books depending on the reader’s age, book banning is an entirely different story. Most especially if you haven’t even read the book yet. That just reeks of ignorance.

I don’t see anything un-Christian about Speak. And I definitely think that banning this would just do more harm than good. Consider this post my choice to Speak Loudly.

Here’s an update from Laurie Halse Anderson about the situation, as well a compiled list of all articles written about Speak Loudly by the Reclusive Bibliophile.