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Breath (Riders of the Apocalypse) by Jackie…
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Breath (Riders of the Apocalypse)

by Jackie Morse Kessler

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When I got this book, I left the library thinking "how is she going to screw this one up?" This is the last book of the series, dealing with Death, who Kessler has portrayed as Kurt Cobain.

And of course, it's all exposition. Talking, talking, talking. Explaining, more talking, and then existential nonsense which has nothing to do with the protagonist. Nobody wants anything. I'm shouting at the book DO SOMETHING. There's no conflict. The big plot twist for the protagonist, where what he thought was wasn't (a la "A Beautiful Mind") happens in the last five pages. THE LAST FIVE PAGES.

That's the kind of shit that happens in Act 1. It's the crux of your story, and it doesn't happen until the end. And of course, there's no consequences for it. It takes one hundred pages in for any sort of turn to happen. Besides that it's people living, making bad jokes, and NOTHING HAPPENS.

Oh, and it's transparent that she's trying to hide gender. Kessler, you are not John Scalzi. I am so glad to be done with you. ( )
  theWallflower | Apr 23, 2014 |
I'm sad that this series has come to an end. Recommend this if the reader wants an edgy, paranormal series. Good for discussing tough issues like eating disorders, cutting, bullying, and suicide. ( )
  LaneLiterati | Apr 28, 2013 |
4.5/5 stars!

While a little slow to start, "Breath" is a fantastic end to one of my favorite YA quartet/series in the last five years - utterly original and unforgettable. I think I can honestly say that this book is my favorite in the quartet - everything has been building to this book, and boy, was the wait worth it. If you've started your journey with "Hunger", you simply must end it with "Breath".

While a little slow to start with Xander's story grounding us as to how he's important as more than just listening to Death's life story (no pun intended), once Death starts speaking (once again wearing the guise of Kurt Cobain) - it's off to the races and it's a non-stop rocket ride until the very final page, where you'll find yourself breathless. The best part? This series feels FINISHED by the last page. Like you have closure, and though there are still a few lingering questions, Kessler lets the audience have a little imagination room, which is always appreciated.

Death's origin story brings in the many-worlds theory into effect - and mixes it with the paranormal. Where did Death come from? Is he an angel? Is he god? All of these questions are presented as possibilities as to where Death came from, and what he is. While Kessler (and Death) coyly don't really answer this one important question, it's still presented really well, and we get hints of other universes aligned with ours, where other beings like us just might be a little (okay, a lot) more advanced. We also get the origin story of how life here on earth began (and the implication of how without Death being there before, the idea of "death" or apoptosis might never have existed), along with that of the Horsemen, and how various important pieces of human history have influenced by the Death and his Horsemen. I have to hand it to Kessler - she really rewove all of what we as humans already know into something dazzlingly original. I was kind of starstruck during these origin story pieces of the book.

We also get to see all of our previous Horsemen - Missy (War), Billy (Pestilence), and Tammy (current Famine) with a cameo appearance with the original Famine we were introduced to, Lisabeth. We also get a good fix in terms of time since we last left these characters taking up their offices as Horsemen. It's been 4-5 years since we last left them, and we get to see how their lives, both as Horsemen and as semi-humans have developed, and I was so, so gratified to see that they were included. Since this is Death's book, we don't get a huge infodump on the rest of the Horsemen - just enough to go on, and how they're handling things 4-5 years into their jobs as Horsemen. We also get glimpses of the original Horsemen, and how the office as Horseman works (inheriting the knowledge of one's predecessors, etc), which I thought was pretty great. We see how they're healing, and how in some areas, they're a bit stuck - and how Death's suicidal actions bring them together long enough for them to stop bickering. The scenes involving the Horsemen and Death all together are some of my favorite of the book, if just to see everyone together again.

Just as Death's origin story further expands the world that Kessler has built over the past three books, we also get yet another new piece of this world - the Slate. I won't spoil things, but it's a place I would love to visit, even if it might be slightly depressing at times. It sounds like an incredible place, and I can see why Death would want to take refuge there - why, if anything, it's the ONLY place he can take refuge when he needs to lick his wounds. While I wanted more on the Slate and its description, what I got was enough to go on.

Finally, there is the mystery of Xander, which once again brings up the many-worlds theory/parallel timelines/universes theory (M-Theory). His secret, at the end, is a very small one, but very important. It's thrown off everything within his own life (though I won't say how), and it's helped Death get onto suicide watch in its own way. The way this was teased and teased throughout the book was great, as was the increasing tension that came with each tease of what this secret might be. With it, we also see Death's endgame - and the question - has Xander (and Death) been a reliable narrator throughout this book? If you've been reading the blog, you'll know that the unreliable narrator trope is one of my favorites, and to bring it in right at the climax is a move that authors, I find, almost never use. And it was brilliant. Furthermore - it worked in everyone's favor.

Final verdict? Definitely the best in the quartet and one of my favorites of 2013 so far, "Breath" is a great ending to a wonderful series. So let's say a fond bittersweet farewell to the "Horsemen Quartet" with "Breath", which drops tomorrow, April 16, 2013 in stores from HMH in North America. Definitely worth the read and highly recommended. Man, am I going to miss this series.

(posted to goodreads, shelfari, librarything, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com ( )
  usagijihen | Apr 15, 2013 |
I received an ARC of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. Thanks to Amazon and Graphia for the chance to review this book. This is the fourth, and final, book in the Riders of the Apocalypse series. I really enjoyed it, especially since it features my favorite rider of the four, Death. This is the book where we learn how the Riders came to be and it is structured quite a bit differently than the previous books in this series.

Before Pestilence, Famine, and War there was Death. This is Death’s story. What happens when Death sucumbs to depression and gives up all hope? Without Death can there be life? Xander has a secret...and a bit of a drinking problem. When he finds Death on his balcony it is up to this troubled teen to talk Death down from abandoning humanity and destroying the world.

Previous books in this series have featured troubled teens who are basically given a choice between dying or taking on the mantel of one of the Riders of the Apocalypse. This book was different that those. This book switches POV between Xander, who drinks a lot and is beginning to have lapses in his memory, and Death.

For some reason unknown to the reader Death owes Xander a boon. The boon Xander asks for is Death’s story...the story of how he came to be on Earth and why he created the Riders.

This, as you can imagine, is a fascinating story. Death has always been my favorite character in this series. Death has a sardonic sense of humor but can still be very touching at times. To hear Death’s story was fantastic.

Xander was also an excellent character. He is struggling with some pretty big secrets and issues. Still when Death shows up on Xander’s balcony ready to end it all, Xander sets aside his own problems and asks insightful questions that make Death rethink the path he thinks is necessary.

This was a touching and compelling read. The story was very engaging; you constantly want to know Xander’s secret and what Death’s decision will be. It was very very hard to put down.

The book is wrapped up nicely and all of the Riders we have come to know and love in this series have their stories added to and enhanced some. I really enjoyed it.

Overall an excellent conclusion to this series. If you want to read a YA paranormal series that is really different you should check this out. Each book deals with social issues and part of sales is donated to a charitable organization. In this case donations go to an organization dealing with Depression. All of the books in this series are quick and interesting reads that are both entertaining and thought-provoking. Highly recommended. ( )
  krau0098 | Mar 17, 2013 |
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"In the fourth and final volume of the Riders of Apocalypse series, high school senior Xander Atwood has a secret. Death, the Pale Rider, has lost his way. What happens when the two meet will change the fate of the world"--

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