Instead of tackling the issues of eating disorders as she did in Hunger (Riders of the Apocalypse), this time Kessler is going for the subject of self-mutilation.
Missy cuts herself to let out her inner pain. As a result, she has scars all over her body, and most people see this as a reason to ridicule her.
This subject is hard for a lot of people to handle. It's just not something people typically understand. However, I do.
I personally struggled with cutting for years, so I was worried that this book wouldn't get it right. And while my reasons for cutting were not the same as Missy's, I found her case to be believable and realistic.
Of course, I never became a Horseman of the Apocalypse and I was better at hiding my self harm than Missy is in the book. Since Missy's ex-boyfriend pretty much tells everyone about her cutting, the whole school knows (another problem I never had; I was invisible in high school).
After a rather humiliating episode at a party, Missy is greeted by Death, who looks a lot like Kurt Cobain, and is given the opportunity to become War, the Red Rider of the Apocalypse. She's given a blade. And though this is a sword and not a razor, she knows how to wield it.
Most of this book chronicles Missy's inner struggle with rage, bitterness, and pain. The horseman mantle she picks up brings her struggles to the surface and gives her something outside her body to fight. At first she uses her newfound power to get back at her peers, but soon she learns the greater scope of War's influence.
This book is quite a bit different from Hunger. The story takes a different route and Missy has a harder time grasping her role than did Lisa as Famine. I was afraid that Kessler would go for the same type of ending as she did in Hunger, but Rage does end on a different note. To avoid spoilers, let's just say that Lisa and Missy come to terms with their issues in different ways.
Rage is definitely a good read, and there are plenty of characters you'll love to hate. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand self harm more because it gives you a clear view of the issue while adding in the fun supernatural bit. I'm looking forward to the next titles in this series.