I enjoyed Hunger, Jackie Morse Kessler's 2010 story of an anorexic girl who becomes the titular horseman of the Apocalypse, immensely (my review). It was both gripping and amusing. So the second book, Rage (Graphia, 2011, 228 pages), was one of my most anticipated reads of this spring.
Sadly, although I found Rage an un-put-downable page-turner, it didn't convince and entrance me in the same way Hunger did.
Rage tells of a girl named Missy, who turns to her razor blade when life seems to much to bear--in cutting, she finds comfort. Then Death shows up at her door, and offers her a sword in place of her razor, and the wounds of violence to cauterize. Missy has been offered the role of War.
Her anger and pain impel her to mount her blood ride stead, and ride out over the world, leaving violence in her wake. And unless Missy can master her own feelings, and take control of her new power, the world faces a blood-bath of epic proportions....
Starting, perhaps, with her peers.
"You have something to say?" Jenna demanded.
Missy heard the girl's scorn, felt her anger. Tasted her fear. That made Missy grin wider. Jenna only thought she was afraid. She didn't know what terror was, not really.
Missy could teach her.
She could teach her so very much.
KILL THEM ALL!
Just before she could call her Sword and massacre her team-mates, she heard a cold voice whisper: Control.
Clinging to that word--both a command for humanity and a plea for sanity--Missy walked away." (page 106)
It's a gripping story, but I had two issues with it. I never understood why Missy cut herself--her life wasn't that bad. And I felt that she was lacking the true, fierce, terrible anger that would make her a good candidate for War. Her social situation becomes utterly awful, and she has good reason to be angry, but it still wasn't enough to convince me. I appreciate that Kessler takes a seriously look at the issue of self-harm, and doesn't trivialize it, and she does make a nice connection between Missy gaining control over her addiction to cutting and gaining control of her new role. But it didn't quite work for me.
Still, I love Kessler's Death (my favorite character in the series!), and her combination of lightness of narrative touch with serious teenage issues is commendable. And I'm so I'm looking forward to the next two books of the series--Loss (Pestilence) and Breath (Death).
Note on age: there's explicit sex, violence, and the unflinchingly described self-harm.
Other thoughts at Burning.x.Impossibly.x.Bright, A Novel Source, Tez Says, and stories from my bookshelf
(disclaimer: review copy received from the publisher)