Die deutsche Rezension findet ihr hier
Xander Atwood is a teenager like any other else, the usual worries and wishes included: is my crush going to go on a date with me? Will I even dare to ask her? What will I do when I finish school? Add to that a newborn brother and you can imagine that Xander has enough on his mind. Nonetheless, it’s Death himself who is one day suddenly on Xander’s balcony – ready to jump. Without death there won’t be any life, but what can Xander possibly say to save the world?
There’s much to say about the fourth and last instalment of the “Riders of the Apocalypse” series. It’s different from its predecessors, and in my opinion it’s also the best book of the series. So far, the plot concentrated on the human protagonists. The Riders were by no means unimportant, but it was only in the third book that we got to know the Rider as Rider and not as a power the protagonists are now able to wield. During all this time, there was one constant: Death. The others might change; he was always there and remained the same.
That changes now. Death lost his humour – but that’s not everything. He lost something essential, something that kept him going and let him bear eternity. Now, he can’t and doesn’t want to go on, which is why we see less of his charm, but get more information about his past. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that he is the actual main character. They both are, Death and Xander. But Death definitely plays a bigger role than all the Riders before him.
Still, it’s Xander who is responsible for the suspense; in his partner’s case, it even results in the opposite. When it comes to Death’s past, they talk with each other for nearly 50 pages. The information might be interesting, but the presentation dragged on a little bit.
Anyway, back to Xander. It gets clear rather quickly that he is not all right. It starts with memory gaps, continues with “what he has done”, as well as a beep sound that never fits the context. I quickly had some theories as to what is going in. At some point, surely everybody will guess the truth before it is explicitly mentioned in the book, but in this case this is nothing bad. Partly, those were thoughts such as, „Oh no, he didn’t …?!” which results in the sudden urge to hug Xander and to help him. Plus, you might guess what is going on, but have you considered all the consequences? I surely didn’t. Only bit for bit I realized what this means for the story. Even thinking about it now, I can only formulate new theories, but I can’t say for sure what really happened. Instead, I look like this:
I can’t say more about it without spoilering you – so let’s continue with something else, shall we?
There’s a little but nice bonus in giving us some chapters about the other Riders again. Did you always want to know what happened to Lisa? Or whether Missy gets along? Did you wonder whether Billy became Pestilence in the end or not? You’ll find an answer to those questions – and more – in this book. Well, sort of. Maybe. I don’t even know myself, thanks to the spoiler secret. However, this is what makes the whole thing so cool!
Besides, “Breath” is, just like the other books, well written. I’ve marked so many passages it looks as if I studied the book instead of reading it. Trivial wisdoms such as that you haven’t really lived if you’ve never been called names by a pigeon while passing by on your flying horse will be found as well, though.
In this, you’ll find thoughts about love, friendship, betrayal and life itself. What’s love worth? What is our love worth? Can we trust our friendships? And isn’t there – maybe – always something to make life worth living? In her dedication Jackie Morse Kessler writes, „If you’ve ever had your trust broken so badly / You asked yourself, „What’s the point?“ / Then this book is for you.” And it is.
“Breath” is a great ending for a great series – it might have its mistakes and this books isn’t perfect either. Still, I’ll hope you’re all going to read it; it’s better to know the other books, but not exactly necessary. Be it as it may, the little wisdoms hidden here are worth it – and especially the brooding after finishing the book.