Friday, August 10, 2018

Book Review: These Rebel Waves

Title: These Rebel Waves (Stream Raiders #1)
Author: Sara Raasch
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Source: ALA
Format: ARC

Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Argrid, a country ruled by religion. But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something more dangerous is at work.
Devereux is a pirate. As one of the outlaws called stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he pirates the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war.
Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he’s building his own pyre.
As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are . . . and what they are willing to become for peace (goodreads)

These Rebel Waves needed to slow down a bit. 
Plot: These Rebel Waves was unique because it focused on a community coming together after winning a war. The prologue offered tidbits from during the war while the book truly started after enemy forces have been beaten and people were trying to find their place in a new world. I thought that the time jump was clever but was disappointed that it required so much info-dumping as a result. Because the reader wasn't present for the actual war, Raasch had to work backward to explain hat happened and how it shaped present day. And this wasn't for the first half of the book, instead, this info-dumping happened all throughout the book. For a fast-paced book, it was distracting to read chunks of text about what happened in the past. 

The overall plot was your common story of teens against the machine with a few twists thrown in. While I can't say I'm biting to read the sequel, I am curious. 

Characters: First thing's first: this is not a book about gay pirates. Yes, one of the characters is gay, and yes, there are a few background characters who make comments about their sexual preferences, but there are no gay pirates in this book. If you grab this book with expectations of queer characters,  you are going to be sorely disappointed. 

The three main characters we had were Luna, Vex, and Ben. There were sections that were told from each character's perspective but this book absolutely felt like Luna's book, which I was okay with. During the war, Luna served as a child soldier and had to do some terrible things that haunted her years later. I was drawn to her fear and determination to see her country become the utopia she fought for. Vex was a fun character and reminded me a bit of Nikolai from the Grishaverse books. He was charming, a wanted criminal, and quick to make a joke. I enjoyed him and I think his relationship with Luna will grow to be something sweet in future books. The character I know least about, and coincidentally had the least number of scenes, was Ben. As the crown prince and son of a tyrannical king, I wanted to see his inner turmoil and growth. I didn't feel like I got that and I'm really hoping that he gets his time to shine in the sequel. 

Worldbuilding: It was fascinating to see a book that took place right after a war. Raasch did an incredible job of highlighting how different people reacted to the progress after the war and how some people weren't able to benefit post-war. Another quality I liked was the magic system. The magic that was so feared by the empire came from special plants that could be combined to have specific properties. I thought it was very clever and was a different spin on magic.

Short N Sweet: These Rebel Waves had a unique premise with too much info-dumping.


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