Hey everyone! Welcome back to another post! Normally, I’d be posting a January wrap-up or a February
TBR, but I was so excited to write this review that I couldn’t wait. I do plan
on putting up a January wrap-up at some point (hopefully soon, since we’re
already almost a week into February), but today, we’re just going to focus on
one of them: Rebel by Marie Lu.
I know. I finally got around to reading it. Unfortunately,
though, I have a lot of mixed feelings about it. That’s the reason why I wanted
to write this review: I have a lot of thoughts I want to get out.
So here we are. I’ve divided this review into two parts. The
first will be a more general, non-spoiler review, and in the second part, I’m
going to dive into all the spoilery details about my feelings for this book. Let’s
get started, shall we?
Okay, this is going to be kind of short because I’m not
great with the whole non-spoiler thing, but I’ll do my best to be as helpful as
I can. Also, please be aware that this section is only non-spoiler regarding
the events of Rebel. It will still most likely contain spoilers for the
original Legend trilogy because everything about the plot ties in
heavily with what happened at the end of the original trilogy.
Overall, I thought Rebel was good. The writing was
engaging, as Marie Lu’s always is. The setting was cool, though it did seem
pretty much the same as the world of her other series, Warcross (though
according to her author’s note at the end, the idea for Warcross actually
came from her original idea for this story, so I guess that kind of makes sense).
The pacing was as great as it always is, but the plot itself was so-so. The
characters were also pretty bland, even the old, familiar ones from the
I don’t think this book ruined the original trilogy for me,
but I also don’t think it was necessary. I really liked the way the original
trilogy was a little bit open-ended in regards to June and Day’s relationship
and other aspects of the characters’ future. This book tied everything up in a
little bit too neat of a bow for me.
But I can’t say much more about that without delving into
spoiler territory, so let me just say that this book wasn’t terrible, but it
wasn’t great, either. Although I love the original trilogy and plan on
rereading it again at some point, I don’t think I’ll include this book in that
reread when I do. This isn’t the kind of book that’s going to stick with me.
On to the spoiler section.
I could talk about a lot of things here, and it could all be
just one big mess, but in the interest of keeping this review coherent, I’m going
to group my thoughts into categories.
Like I said above, the characters felt really bland in this
book. Even June and Day, who are so interesting and dynamic in the original
trilogy, don’t feel anything at all like the way they do in the original
series. I mean, yes, there is a ten-year difference between the end of Champion
and the beginning of Rebel, so it makes sense that these two
characters would have matured. But I don’t buy that they would have become
boring. And that’s really what they are
in this book. We even get Day’s (er, sorry, Daniel’s) perspective in this book,
which would normally make him feel more fleshed-out, he was still very blah and
one-note in my opinion.
I also had some issues with the way their relationship
worked out. That last chapter, where Day proposes to June, made me the most
emotional than any other part of the book. It was total fanservice, and at the
time that I read it, I loved it. But after giving it some thought in the week
or so since I finished the book, I have some mixed feelings.
It just didn’t feel realistic to me. June and Day were
together, then Day forgets about her for ten years, and two or maybe three
months after he remembers her, they get engaged? To make matters worse, for the
first month, they didn’t even speak to each other. They reconnected one month
before the beginning of Rebel, and had a nice hour or two or
reminiscing, and then Day left to go back to the completely different country
he now lives in, and they didn’t speak for the entirety of that time, with the
exception of one short exchange a couple weeks before the beginning of Rebel,
when June let Day know she was coming to his country. Then, when she gets
there, the whole thing with Eden goes down, and they’re working together, but
they don’t really have much time to talk or really be together.
I know that in the epilogue, it says that they spent several
weeks going on dates and getting to know each other, but it still felt like by
the time they got engaged, they were still basically strangers.
Moving away from June and Day, though, we have Eden. Eden is
one of the POV characters in this book, which makes sense, of course, because
he does play a very important role, but honestly, every time we had an Eden
chapter, I really just wanted it to get back to Day (which is saying a lot
because, as I mentioned, Day’s chapters weren’t very interesting, either). He’s
supposed to be twenty-something in this book, but he acted like a whiny
teenager. I swear that at least once in every single one of his chapters, he
had some variant of “my brother just doesn’t understand me.” I get that it
would be hard to have to live in the shadow of someone like Day, but his
attitude seemed a little over the top to me. Maybe that was just my bias for
Day showing through, but I just really didn’t care about Eden.
I also didn’t care about his romance. That’s another thing
that felt way too easy in this book. June and Day got together too easily, and
Eden and his love interest (whose name I can’t even remember, and it’s only
been a little over a week) got together way too easily, too. At the end of the
book, Eden and Day are going to move back to the Republic, and Eden asks the
girl if she will come with them—and she says yes, just like that. I mean, sure,
her father is dead at this point so it’s not like she has much tying her to
Antarctica, but she has spent basically her entire life in that place, and she’s
just completely okay with leaving it for some guy?
This book was really going ham with the happy ending, and it
was honestly a little much.
The main plot of this story is two brothers, Eden and
Daniel/Day, trying to reconcile and reconnect. Mixed in there we also have an
evil mastermind attempting to overthrow the government, causing Eden and Daniel
(and June) to have to work together to stop it (though the whole reason why the
evil mastermind got the ability to overthrow the government was Eden’s fault,
but that’s beside the point). Eden is
drawn to the rough side of town, trying to get back to his roots in the
Republic, while Day is doing everything he can to avoid going back to that
place. The two don’t see eye-to-eye, and they also refuse to listen to each
other. Eden gets mixed up with Dominic Hamm, the most notorious crimelord in
the city, who seems to understand him in a way “his brother never had” (like I
said, he really milks that phrase). Then Eden and Day have to go back to the
Republic, they spend one night opening up to each other, and suddenly, they’re
on the same side again.
I think the concept behind the storyline is a good one, and
I think it could have been done really well—but it just felt too easy, like so
many of the other things in this book. I just have a hard time believing that
after ten years (or maybe a little less, since Eden idolized his brother at
first) of them having these issues, it could just be cleared up in one night. I
do admit that the scene when they finally open up to each other was really nice
(if the last chapter was the place where I got the most emotional, this was
probably second place), but it didn’t feel like enough to me.
Then, they head back to Antarctica to beat the bad guy. Eden
takes his love interest in with him to infiltrate the bad guy’s lair, and I was
expecting that maybe she would turn out to be on Dominic’s side and turn
against Eden or something, but that didn’t happen. Then they win, and there’s a
happily ever after. Even though all the writing and the action was super
exciting during the ending, I was left feeling lukewarm.
I had a lot of trouble finding the motivation to pick up
this book, especially during the first two-thirds. Once we got to the third
act, and there was a lot of action, I was excited and engaged and read the
pages a lot faster. Action is really where Marie Lu’s writing shines.
It can shine in other places too (I mean, I didn’t have the
same problem in other books of hers), but not in this book. I think this one
started at a disadvantage.
Like I said in my non-spoiler section, this book relies
heavily on the events of the original series, and I honestly think that was its
downfall. It’s basically the fourth book in the series, but because it was
published so much later and is technically a companion novel, the author
couldn’t bank on the fact that readers will have already read the first three
books. As a result, the book spends a lot of time telling the reader things
that happened in the original series and kind of explaining why it’s important,
in case they haven’t read it.
The first four and half pages of the book are literally just
Eden telling you who he is, and who his brother is, and why that matters, and
where they live. Not exactly riveting stuff. And even after we get to the
actual story, there’s still a lot of exposition, hidden in dialogue and in narrative
text. As someone who has read the original trilogy, it was boring, but I
imagine that for someone who hadn’t read it, it would not only be
boring, but also confusing and largely unhelpful.
There you have it. All my thoughts on Rebel by Marie
Lu. This review turned out to be a lot more negative than I wanted it too,
especially considering that I still did give this book 3 stars. Maybe that
means that I should lower my rating, but I can’t bring myself to do it. There
are some good parts in this book, and the nostalgia that I have for the
original series is really bringing up my fondness for the book.
Thanks for reading, everyone! I’ll see you next time.