These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch reviewed by Minda
What I drank prior: a little over half a bottle of Gnarlyhead Zin—liked the hint of vanilla
Spoiler-free Overview: The story opens five years after this island (Loyrans or similar) won its independence from main island with the help of the raiders (newer immigrants) also inhabiting the island. The new goverbament is working out the terms of the independence and grappling with how to run the island as not everyone is in agreement. We follow three people who were deeply affected by the war and working through their trauma.
Spoiler-free Thoughts: As far as real world comparisons go re: religious fervor and prejudice among a human construct such as race, it was a little on-the-nose, but always appreciated from me. I love the world-building aspects here and can’t wait to explore more in the sequel—which I’ve heard is a duology *fingers crossed because you know how I feel about endless trilogies*
Characters: All the characters definitely grew over the course of the book. Appreciated that they all seemed to have believable motives. Lu (and others) had to grapple with her worldview in a way that was compelling. Totally ‘shipping the main not-yet couple. Vex‘s crew, Nayeli and Edda, were my favorites though. I liked Ben a lot, though I didn’t find his romance very compelling—the main LGBTQ+ relationship, so that was unfortunate.
Minor spoiler: As mentioned, there are gay characters, but no gay pirates, which seems to be the major complaint on Goodreads, so thought I’d save you the trouble if that’s what your into.
Plot: What a great story about the aftermath of war. It’s a really complex topic that isn’t always addressed, but we’re seeing the direct effects since it’s only 5 years post and there still hammering out treaties. It was enlightening to watch Lu discover that the government that she loves so much isn’t serving all parties equally. And it’s just not the easy to build up a working government from scratch (survpruse editor’s note: lol)
World Building: I honestly think Raasch is a rockstar at world-building. It was my fave part of the Snow Like Ashes tril and it will probably be my fave here too. It’s just all so intricate! I love that the magic pulls from plants and the cultures and so distinct. Each city had its own flavor.
—SPOILERS Don’t read! Or do, continue to not be you’re mom—
What I hated: F’ing small child. I feel like this has become a trope in YA (looking st you Prim, but could have def been there earlier) when there’s just a rando younger sibling/small child along for the ride. KEEP YOUR KIDS AT HOME when you’re going on a sups dangerous mission. He is six! Rolled my eyes at every appearance and only served to pull me out of the story.
What I disliked: I get that YA means the characters basically have to been 16, even if I don’t agree. But your telling me one of them was an assassin machine at age 11 and the other was a treasonounous mastermind? #doubtit
What I liked: The characters, minus the small child. I was So so nervous for everyone… I feel like there was no way we’re all getting out of here alive. Well I was right! Though I don’t think her death will stick.
What I loved: Those end plot twists were so so well done!! I didn’t see them coming but it was well set up for the Ben/Paxben reveal (their reuniting was so cute!), king/pope/emperor being a lunatic. And her dad(!?) being the key informant? I mean, damn. And all those secret missions she went on! We’ll see how she deals once she survives this whole maybe-being-dead thing.
What to pair it with: Hm. Imma go with vermouth. It’s good and more complex than you’d think.
Rating: 4/5 shots