For What It's Worth

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Review: Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler

Rage (Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Book 2)
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. (YA )

Like it’s predecessor, Hunger, Rage follows a young teenage girl struggling with her inner demons.  
Missy is a cutter and one of her sessions leaves her bleeding to death. Enter Death. THE Death. He gives Missy the choice to die now or become one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse -War.

Rage was very similar to Hunger in many ways. It followed the same style and plot-line almost exactly, however Missy and Lisa (the MC from Hunger) are very different girls.

Missy resist becoming War at first but the pull to get revenge on those who wronged her (and there is a long list, starting with a truly a**hole of epic proportions ex-boyfriend) is just too enticing and for the most part she embraces it fairly easily. After a few mishaps with her new powers she speaks to two of the other riders, Famine & Pestilence  and realizes she can both embrace the power that War gives her and help people.

I love how this series uses the metaphor of the Horseman to show how young girls can embrace their own power and overcome their disorders. There is no cute guy coming in to save them, they save themselves. Becoming a Horseman doesn’t cure them but it does provide them the tools to learn how to cope with the troubles they face.

While Hunger really delved into anorexia, Rage focused more on the Horseman aspect of the story. Cutting was definitely described and dealt with but the focus seemed to be more on deepening the world Kessler created and the relationships between the Four Horseman. 

I’m really looking forward to Pestilence's story (coming next year & titled “Loss”) and really can’t wait to read Death’s story! He seems to have so many layers to his character. He’s cruel, kind, sexy, scary, a philosopher, a rock star.....a real contradiction, which is fascinating.

One more thing I like about these books - probably because I’m an animal lover - is the Horseman’s relationship with their Steeds. It seems to be important to both parties. Both Famine and War’s Steeds get a name for the first time and really start to bond with their riders. Lisa and Missy treat them with respect and in return the Steeds guard and protect them and even cheer them up when necessary. The experience of flying on the Steeds for the first time is a liberating experience for both girls. 

My only quibble is that both Hunger (174 pages) and Rage (209) are very short. That’s great because the stories don’t have a lot of wasted filler descriptions and make for very quick reads but I do wish I got to learn more about various characters and delved a little deeper into the causes/resolutions of the disorders.
Rating 3.5 
Jackie on Twitter: @JackieMorseKess
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group
Source: ARC provided by the Amazon Vine program for review

Note: A portion of the proceeds for Rage are donated to “To Write Love On Her Arms”, a non profit group that is dedicated to finding help for those who struggle with self-injury.
You can visit the website at

A portion of the proceeds for Hunger are donated to The National Eating Disorders Association. . NEDA provides support both to those suffering from eating disorders and their families.


  1. Great review and okay I'm more interested in this series now , but will wait because so many books and so little time.

  2. I really enjoyed both books in this series as well. (I'm too anxiously waiting for the mystiously sexy Death's book :)

  3. Awwww, lovely review, Karen. This series looks like it deals with important issues in a really responsible way. thanks for the review.

  4. I always come across books where Death is an awesome character you wanna know more about. And now in this one too, I am intrigued.

    As for the book, yay for girls saving themselves!