Loss by Jackie Morse Kessler Review

Friday, January 20, 2012

Title: Loss
Author: Jackie Morse Kessler
Publisher: HMH
Publish Date: March 20, 2012
Genre: YA, Paranormal
Pages: 272
Source: Author

Fifteen-year-old Billy Ballard is the kid that everyone picks on, from the school bullies to the teachers. Things change drastically when Billy learns that years ago, he’d been tricked by Pestilence, the White Rider of the Apocalypse. Now it’s Billy’s turn to wield Pestilence’s Bow and spread sickness through the world. He uses his new power to lash out at his tormentors…and accidentally causes an outbreak of disease. Horrified by his actions, he wants nothing more than to be rid of the Bow. For that to happen, Billy must track down the previous White Rider, who is hiding in a place where even Death cannot go.

Billy’s search takes him across the centuries: from ancient Phrygia, where a man called King Mita agrees to wear the White Rider’s Crown, to a mighty forest, where Pestilence plans to cheat Death; from the docks of Alexandria, where plague is packed into cartons of grain, to the Children’s Crusade in France, where the White Rider learns a truth that will break him. By the time Billy finds the man who had tricked him so long ago, the White Rider is completely insane—and is poised to unleash a plague that would make the Black Death look like a summer cold. And only Billy can stop him.
Billy is tormented. It doesn’t matter the day of the week, or even where he is. He is bullied, tortured and beaten down every single day. His life, as far as he’s concerned, is one living hell. That all changes in an instant, however, when Billy discovers that years ago he was tricked by the White Rider and fated to carry Pestilence’s bow and spread disease throughout the world. Suddenly, he has more power than he could have dreamed, and he can finally get vengeance for the misery he’s faced. However, his actions have consequences, and when Billy realizes what he’s done, he must race to undo it before time runs out…for everyone. 

I’ve been a fan of this series from the start. Veteran author, Jackie Morse Kessler, has created a riveting series based around the story of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, hence the aptly-titled series, Riders of the Apocalypse. Loss is deeper than its predecessors, delving into one of the grittiest supernatural tales I’ve read in a good while. Equally heartbreaking and intense, Loss represents the darkest hells of the world, offers redemption and gives both the character and readers the chance to choose – what would you do in Billy’s position. Fluid and fast, the story spins on an epic arc, searing that very question into your mind. 

I made a commitment to reading more books from a male POV this year, and I’m so glad that Loss fit the bill. Billy was an excellent, multi-layered character that, despite his pain and anger, was not blinded by it and was able to understand the repercussions of both his actions and inactions. Furthermore, I also loved the fact that Billy wasn’t afraid to touch the dark aspects of the book. Bullying, too, is a completely relevant topic in today’s day and age. While Loss could very easily have spun into a preachy novel, it maintained a thoroughly objective standpoint while still allowing you to access the deep-seeded pain at the heart of it. I will say that parts of the story were a bit unbelievable, namely the epic journey that Billy must face to encounter the White Rider, as a whole, it worked well. Throughout Loss, Billy’s story was raw, gritty and honest, giving you a protagonist you wanted wholeheartedly to believe in. 

 In my opinion, I humbly state that this was the best book in the whole series for me. Loss was poignant and powerful, superseding the paranormal and becoming an honest, emotional story that resonates. I give it a 4 out of 5, and I highly recommend it to all fans of YA, especially those who enjoy the series, as well as those who enjoy the paranormal. 

I received this book free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.


  1. I had forgotten about these again, but they sound good and the 4 riders, scary stuff. I do wonder how it ends

  2. I've really enjoyed this series--so different from many of the paranormals out there especially since it really makes you stop and think: what would you do if you were in that position? After all, your job is to spread disease...how can you stop doing your job when it's now part of who you are? I'm looking forward to this one especially since it does deal with bullying. Glad to hear it lives up to its promise.

  3. Oh I really have to get started on this series.
    I guess, I was just reluctant because those are so emotional challenging books, right? For those kind of books I need to be in the mood!
    I really like that we get a male POV, I really love this and are always happy to find myself reading a book and be in a guys head.
    Wonderful review that makes me want to read and start this series :-))

  4. Wow I'm not even sure I ever heard of this series before! I'd have to look at book 1 on Goodreads but it sounds really neat!

    Xpresso Reads

  5. I'm pretty interested in reading this series, and after reading your review, I just want to get started on it more than ever! Thanks for sharing your thoughts :)

  6. I read the first book in this series but none after that. I may have to watch for them and continue the series.
    I love male POV books and that definitely is a bonus for this one. I've been a bit burnt out on 'issue' books and still have quite a few on my shelves to read, but once I get through them I'll have to give the rest of these a try.

  7. I really liked Hunger, and liked Rage a little bit less but I like Jackie´s work. I really want to read this and reading that it might be the best so far I MUST give it a try soon :)

  8. Just got this book in the mail! I love this series! Her books are so awesome! Loved the review!

  9. I wondered what this one would be like. Glad to have your take on it! Excellent review. I can't wait to read it.


  10. I had wanted to read Hunger when it came out, but somehow never got around to it...now I think I'll wait till the series is done, and read them all in a row.

  11. I've been dying to read this series! Thank you for the great review.


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