Contrary to popular belief, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse aren’t just harbingers of doom—they actually keep life in balance. But what happens when their leader and creator, Death, becomes suicidal?
Before the first living thing drew its first gasping breath, he was there. He has watched humanity for millennia. And he has finally decided that humanity is not worth the price he has paid time and again. When Death himself gives up on life, a teenager named Xander Atwood is the world’s only hope. But Xander bears a secret, one that may bring about the end of everything.
I have been a huge fan of this series since the first book Hunger came out many moons ago. Kessler has repeatedly hit the mark while dealing with an array of issues from eating disorders, cutting, Alzheimer’s and bullying to depression. Every time she tackles one of these incredibly hard topics I wonder if this will be the time it doesn’t ring true. For Hunger Kessler has talked about how she had an eating disorder, so it seem obvious that she was able to so accurately portray the mindset of a teen going through it. Yet with every new issue she takes on, I am impressed by how poignant she makes the struggle and how deeply she is able to make it resonate with me as a reader. Point in fact: Kessler has made me ugly cry with abandon (especially over the cat in Rage, ugh, that was heartbreaking!).
In the first three books Death is a tease hovering around the edges of the story, caring, yet almost cruel in the way he forces these teens to face up to facts. Yet somehow I fell in love with him a little more in each story, even though he remained a total enigma, so it was beyond gratifying to finally get his story. Although about Death, Breath is also about Xander, a new character to the series, and once again Kessler expresses much of the issues through his personal struggles as well as his interactions with Death, therefore keeping the teen element fully in play.
Unlike the first two books, but building on material from book 3, Loss, Breath tells more of the story of the horsemen, their current relationships, and their past manifestations. It was gratifying to see Missy, Billy and Tammy several years into their roles as Rage, Pestilence and Famine, to hear about how they are doing and where their life has taken them. I greatly appreciated that Kessler showed their lives as far more successful and happy, but also points out that all their problems were not immediately cured and that they have to work every day for their health and happiness.
I can't express how satisfying it is to read a series that not only tells a fascinating story, but has a strong message, no matter how you're struggling, how you're hurting, there is hope and there is help if you will give it a chance. Kessler has achieved both, and for that reason all four of these books should be a must-have of any collection. A wonderful end to a unique and well written series.
Breath, by Jackie Morse Kessler
Published by Graphia, April 16th, 2013
My copy kindly provided by the publisher