Review: Rage

Rage is the second book in the Horsemen of the Apocalypse quartet. It was released in the U.S. on April 4, 2011 in paperback and eBook formats. It is currently available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in both formats.

Published by Graphia, a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the paperback is 228 pages.

Goodreads description:

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.


Melissa Miller sought release. She sought to relieve the tension that continued to build within her until she didn’t think she could stand it anymore. Until she could no longer breathe from the pressure inside of her, squeezing her lungs, making existence unbearable.

She sought the calm that came from the release. From the cutting. But somehow it was never enough. The fix was only temporary. The pain only alleviated for so long.

She thought the razor was her friend. Her comfort.  But what she needed most, and had the least handle on, was control. And where at first she felt that the cutting gave her the control she needed, it was beginning to slip as the cutting took control over her.

But even though it seems her secret wish is for the escape of death, it is anything but. And when the Angel of Death shows up at her door with a gift and a job offer, she still has enough passion for life to slam the door in his face.


Rage is a very real, very intense, gruesome but incredibly powerful and empowering story that deals with the real life issue of cutting in a setting that mixes reality and fantasy.

It is told with such poetry and beauty that help tame some of the harshness and raw emotion that is presented, but without making light of or taking away from the honesty and integrity of this important and disturbing issue.

The story focuses on one girl’s struggle with her emotions, on her self-imposed isolation and the outlet she chooses to alleviate her internal pain. When things get too far out of control, Death steps in and gives Missy the option to become one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse – the Red Rider known as War.

Author Jackie Morse Kessler does an exquisite job of portraying the character’s battle with her own emotional overload as a fight against War who threatens to overtake her. In the process, as the balance of power tips back and forth, little by little she begins to gain back some of her strength and control.

Don’t be fooled. Rage is not a story to be read lightly. Its meaning and import go much deeper than how the story appears on the surface – that Death, who happens to look a lot like a certain deceased rock star, has chosen one girl to be the next Horseman and that she now has some pretty powerful abilities that allow her to take down not only those that have wronged her, but could wipe out the entire world.

This story is truly exceptional and one that will certainly help to raise awareness about an issue not often openly talked about. While it might not be appropriate, without supervision, for younger readers, it is a story that can be read by young adults and up. Although this is not the first book in the series, it can be read as a standalone novel.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=5]

On a personal note:

I had no idea what to expect when I got a copy of Rage on NetGalley and received a printed ARC through a trade. I hadn’t done much more than glance at a description talking of the Apocalypse and saw the title and thought it would be something I might be interested in.

When I found out it was the second book in a series I wasn’t sure I’d be able to review it as I hadn’t read the first book, but this book can definitely be read without reading Hunger. But after having read Rage, there is no doubt in my mind that I will be reading that first book. I may just need a little time to sit with this one.

This was so completely different than what I thought this book would be about, yet so much better than I ever imagined. Whatever I was expecting from this book, it exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds.

This is not a book that can be gushed over. It’s not about love or sweetness or light. It’s very intense and very dark and deals with ugly truths. This book, while not considered a lengthy read – it’s just two hundred and change pages – is a very strong story dealing with heavy issues.

I will have to read this story again as I’m sure I missed many of the subtler meanings as Missy had her internal battles with War. I would also like to read the finished copy, which I now own in both eBook and print format, to see if there were any further changes to the story.

This is also one of those stories where I would love to find out the author’s meaning behind some of the ideas, such as Missy’s relationship with Death.

I absolutely love the way this author writes. The poetic style of her writing really drew me in and I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn’t just a casual read, but something much more substantive.

There were many favorite passages in this book, but a shorter one that really resonated:

Much better to keep everything inside, down in the dark where people never saw or heard the truth. In the dark, you couldn’t see when you were bleeding.



This review is based on the eARC I received from NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for review and not the printed ARC or finished copy that I own.

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