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Review: Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler

Rage (Horsemen of the Apocalypse #2) by Jackie Morse Kessler
Young Adult, Fantasy, Mythology
Paperback $8.99 (228 pages, GRAPHIA)
Ebook $8.99

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.

Author Site: jackiemorsekessler.com

Not Quite There, But Good Continuation (3 stars)

Missy has been called upon to become the embodiment of War, the Red Rider of the Four Horsemen. As a cutter she knows a thing or two about weilding a blade. At school and amongst her peers she's known by a lot of cruel nicknames related to her black attire and scars. But that isn't all of who she is and when her former boyfriend plays an ugly prank on her the kiss of a blade and the ability to wage war on the people who hurt her may be all too tempting.

Unfortunately I can't sing Rage's praises. Where Hunger did great justice to the subject of eating disorders Rage completely missed the mark for those who self-harm. Kessler barely scratched the surface (no pun intended) of what motivates a cutter and Missy felt more like an uneducated guess of what a person who self-harms goes through.

As with Hunger's eating disorders issues, I have personal experience with self-harm and some of my dearest friends over the years have been cutters. Missy's mysterious anger and motivations just didn't reflect any of the things I have seen and known with this specific issue. Keeping that in mind I feel like most readers who aren't familiar with self-harm and cutters specifically will not have much trouble getting into the story. But if you're intimately knowledgable of the topic you might end up really disappointed, Missy is not going to be endearing to you and you may find yourself annoyed that she feels more like a guess at what a cutter is than being realistic. To be fair in her author's note Kessler does say she did not have personal experience with the topic of self-harm to work from and I don't think it would be right to judge her for that when she's trying to bring these tough topics into the light through fiction.

Overall it wasn't a blend of plot and character with social issue but it wasn't totally unenjoyable. If Missy weren't a cutter she'd be perfectly believable as a girl frustrated with the pressures of being a teen but then she wouldn't fit into the grand scheme of the series. I'm still interested to see where the Horsemen part of the series goes but after Rage I'm not quite sure I'll be chomping at the bit to get the next book.

Other Reviews:
Tales of the Ravenous Reader

Notes: Review Copy Received via NetGalley.

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