Bullied Billy Ballard must take Pestilence’s crown and ride with the Horsemen of the Apocalypse or let the world be destroyed, in this third book in the Riders of the Apocalypse Quartet.
Haunted by his childhood promise to the disease-riddled Ice Cream Man (aka the White Rider/Pestilence/the Conqueror), 15-year-old Billy is nonetheless surprised when Death asks him to abandon his mortal life and assume apocalyptic power. Given that Billy’s world is filled with bullies—whose motives are inadequately explained—a workaholic mother and a grandfather made alien and violent by Alzheimer’s, a new life seems preferable. Unlike War and Famine (in Rage, 2011, and Hunger, 2010), Billy has a choice: Defeat the Conqueror or convince him to ride forth and restore balance. Billy dreamwalks among Pestilence’s millennia of memories of suffering, only to have the White Rider return and try to save the world by sickening it—an illogical solution paralleled by other equally incoherent plot points. Issues of bullying and Alzheimer’s vie for attention, unsubtly and incongruously matched with a dark fantasy story about apocalyptic personifications. Flat characters—the horses have more pizzazz than the obligatory love interest, Marianne Bixby—undermine Billy’s epiphany of self-worth and social belonging.
A book about “bullies and bruises and babysitting Gramps” with apocalyptic interludes—the End cannot come quickly enough. (Fantasy. 12 & up)