These Rebel Waves
THESE REBEL WAVES is the first book in a fantasy duology by Sara Raasch. The story is told in third person limited from three different perspectives, Lu, a former revolutionary soldier turned young politician, Vex, a notorious and wanted pirate, and Ben, an Argridian prince with a fondness for forbidden magic. As the threat of civil war in Grace Loray looms on the horizon, Lu is ready to do whatever’s necessary to save her country, even if that means aligning herself with Vex, an annoying criminal who robbed her just days before. Meanwhile in Argrid, Ben is surprised by his father’s growing interest in Grace Loray and the magical plants found there, particularly because the church condemns them as evil. Unaware of his father’s true intentions, Ben is hoping he can use magical healing potions to prove that Grace Loray is not what they’ve all been led to believe. Magic can, in fact, be good.
There is so much to like about this book, especially the plot, which is constantly in motion. The chapters are full of adventure, action, and intrigue with multiple surprises along the way. Sometimes the twists are so shocking that they’re difficult to initially accept. More foreshadowing could have mitigated this problem, but Raasch is forgiven, simply because these curveballs are so fun. I gasped out loud multiple times in response to revelations and unexpected events. Raasch definitely likes to keep her readers guessing and isn’t afraid to put her characters in difficult situations, particularly in the last scene. This book ends on such a dramatic cliffhanger that I’ll be waiting with baited breath until the sequel is released.
The only part of the story I’m still confused about is that Vex doesn’t think he’ll be recognized when he purposefully gets himself arrested. Just a chapter before that, Lu talks about how infamous Vex is and that everyone knows what he looks like, including Teo. Given how intelligent Vex is, it seems unlikely he would have such an error in judgment. Because Vex’s capture is the inciting incident that gets the ball rolling, I had trouble getting into the story in the beginning. However, once I let that go, I became fully immersed in Raasch’s writing and couldn't stop reading.
Sara Raasch is one of the best voices in young adult fantasy today. Her worldbuilding is lush and her characters are resourceful and nuanced. THESE REBEL WAVES is tremendously entertaining and everything I want in a book of this genre.