31. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Apocalyptic, Courtney, Teen Books

Breath by Jackie Morse Kessler, 336 pages, read by Courtney, on 05/23/2013

Finally! The last book in the Riders of the Apocalypse series, wherein we get to see what things look like from the perspective of Death! We’ve already met War, Famine and Pestilence and the humans who took up their mantles. Death has been a constant throughout, but we’ve never really gotten to know him. Guess I didn’t see it coming when this book’s main crisis is the fact that Death has determined that it is time for it to end. And by “it”, I mean “existence”. Which is bad, particularly if you happen to like living. Now it’s up to a guy named Xander to try and talk Death out of killing himself (and everything else). Xander’s remarkably “normal” for one of the humans in this series. He’s got friends and no major psychological issues. He even has a girlfriend, who he is desperately in love with. So much so that he’s changed his college plans to dovetail with hers. He just needs to tell everyone, including his parents, that he’s not going to Carnegie Mellon on scholarship after all. The main complication in his life is the new baby in the house. Sleep deprivation gets to Xander; blackouts ensue. And then a guy that kind of looks like Kurt Cobain shows up on Xander’s balcony. Xander intuitively knows this guy is Death. And Death informs him that he is owed a boon, for Xander had once shown Death kindness. At this point, Xander realizes the tell-tale signs of suicide and demands to know Death’s entire story, in the hopes of delaying what seems inevitable.
This is one of those series where the premise really shouldn’t work, but for some reason works exceptionally well. There’s a lot to chew on here, both philosophically and emotionally. There’s a sense of humor in the face of universal hardship (at times, Kessler’s Death reminds me of a male version of Gaiman’s Death from Sandman). Each one of the books in this series comes across as completely unique and never, ever formulaic. I never know where the story is going to go, but I always know I’m going to enjoy the ride.

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