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

Required Reading: December

I didn’t do a Required Reading post/challenge last November on purpose because I was too busy with NaNoWriMo to really stress over what I wanted to read for November. I guess I wasn’t able to explain that — so apologies to those who were looking for one!

Anyway, so let’s so a little recap for October first before anything else, yes?

  • Breathe by Cliff McNish – I finished this early, actually, although I wasn’t able to review it until late. Anyway, I liked it, and I admit to being a bit scared with this for a while. It was an interesting experience with a McNish book. I’m not sure if I will read more, but I’m open to it.
  • The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey – Oh this book. This totally gave me the creeps while I was reading it (but that may be because I was reading this while I was in a rural area), but this is probably one of the best books I read this year. I loved it so much that I ended up reading its sequel soon after and I loved it even more. :)

There’s a certain thrill with scaring myself in a month, but I don’t think I’m up to doing it every month. :D Still, it was kind of fun.

Now onto December!

Required Reading - December

So since December means it’s the end of the year, I thought I’d use this month to catch up on my challenges. I just checked the status of my challenges and I seem to be failing miserably on some of them. So now, even in the midst of all the busyness of the holiday season, I’m going to try and catch up. So now I declare the last Required Reading for the year 2011 as Challenge Accepted. :D

I have been wanting to use a meme image for a long time now. :D

(This technically breaks the rule for this challenge because I’m supposed to not include books that are not included in other challenges…but like I said, I can bend the rules a little. So there :P)

  • Angelica’s Daughters by Various Authors – for my Filipino books reading challenge
  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – for my classics challenge
  • Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster – for my classics challenge
  • Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler – for my TwentyEleven challenge
  • A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner – another for my Twenty Eleven Challenge

I should also probably finish Come Be My Light by Brian Kolodiejchuk and Mother Teresa, because it’s been on my currently reading list since this March.

Should be fun! I hope I can actually live up to the challenge! December’s upon us, ahoy! Time for some best-of lists soon, yes? :)

Thou art Famine

Hunger by Jackie Morse KesslerHunger by Jackie Morse Kessler
Riders of the Apocalypse # 1
Publisher: Harcourt Graphia
Number of pages: 177
My copy: ebook review copy from Netgalley

“Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.”

Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons?

I cannot imagine myself having an eating disorder. I love food too much, and I can’t imagine not eating. Of course, when I lost all the extra weight, I was careful to follow my nutritionist’s advice and keep myself well-fed to keep my metabolism up. I guess I’m blessed enough not to be too conscious of how fat/thin I look, and that I had good friends and people around me who always kept me in check.

But that doesn’t mean that I have never had encounters with any eating disorder. I had some friends back in college who had eating disorders. One had bulimia and we had to do intervention for her to help her out, while the other had an eating disorder that was neither bullimia or anorexia (I think it’s called Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified), where she always thinks she’s fat even if she wasn’t (if she was fat, then I’m an elephant) and she would swing from binging and purging to eating normally and exercising like crazy. Thankfully, these friends are better now, so it wasn’t as extreme as the one I read in Hunger.

Now, Hunger is a pretty unique book. I’ve read some contemporary YA with eating disorders involved, but never in the context of an urban fantasy novel. For one thing, I only know of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from watching Charmed (Season 2 Episode 21), and they give me a kind of creepy impression being harbingers of the apocalypse. I also didn’t know these four horsemen actually had a Christian origin as they were from Revelations! *facepalm* I had no idea what to expect about this novel, except maybe get a bit freaked out at the references to the apocalypse.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed it. It’s not an apocalyptic novel, despite the presence of the four horsemen — it was more of a novel about an girl suffering through an eating disorder. Lisa is the type of person who’s already very thin and yet would still look at websites like www.weightlosspillsthatwork.org.  I was very annoyed at Lisa for most of the novel because she is sick, but she won’t admit it. I wanted to yell and scream at her for thinking that she was fat — there weren’t many descriptions of her in the book, but I knew for a fact that she wasn’t fat. I know that she was doing more harm to her body than good by not eating and exercising like crazy. I was both frustrated and sorry for Lisa because she won’t listen to her friends and yet she really, really needs help.

Who knew being Famine could change that? Lisa being Famine was the key for her to realize that while she was starving herself because she felt fat, there are people all over the world who would die to have the food she has available for her. It was kind of hard for me to understand how famine could be a good thing, how it could help, but the author managed to execute it well in a way that made sense. I liked how Lisa’s story turned out — it wasn’t a story of destruction really, even with all the apocalypse, but a story of redemption for Lisa.

I’d also like to say that I’m relieved that there’s no paranormal romance involved in this book! For a moment there I thought Lisa would fall for another horseman, but I’m glad she didn’t. Not only would that be creepy, but that would totally destroy how the story was set up.

There were some stuff I found myself nitpicking on that didn’t make me love this novel. There were times when the point of view shifts, like the sudden use of “our” and “we”, and it was kind of jarring to see shifts like that while reading. Example:

She opened her mouth to say she most certainly did not, and never mind that he looked familiar because she’d never seen him before, not really, when suddenly it clicked. Humans have a race memory, or if you wanted to get Jungian, a collective unconscious — the feelings and experiences that we as a species have learned throughout the ages. In our souls, we recognize the angels and demons that walk among us, as well as the Old Ones who fall in between those categories.

I’m not sure if it’s a writing technique, but to me, it felt a bit awkward, like it could have been written better. Also, the switching from Lisa to Lisabeth throughout the story was kind of confusing, up until I realized that whenever Lisabeth was used, it is from the POV of Famine or the horse. This is very minor, but I also felt like Lisa’s parents could have been named better — Simon and Sandy felt too much like brother and sister to me. ^^

But that’s just me nitpicking, as I said. Hunger is still a pretty good book, one that pleasantly surprised me. It’s a pretty quick read, and there’s also a story from the author at the end that made me appreciate the story even more. I’m looking forward to Rage, the second book in this series, this time about self-mutilation and War.

Hunger will be out on October 2010 from Harcourt Graphia. A portion of the proceeds of the book will be donated to the National Eating Disorders Association. Much thanks to NetGalley for the advanced reading copy ebook!

Rating: [rating=4]