Author: Sara Raasch
Rating: 5 Stars
Dates read: 09 Jan 19 – 13 Jan 19
Publication date: 20 Sep 2018
Genre(s): YA Fantasy
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.
I actually picked up, well, selected These Rebel Waves completely randomly. I had just finished Seafire and was really looking forward to, but not expecting the world of another pirate-themed book. This one took me by surprise, and the audiobook was something that I ended up really enjoying.
First things first, it is a pirate book. In my eyes, piracy is a mindset and a mantra, it is a group dynamic, and yes, it does require a ship at points, but the ship is merely a vehicle that allows piracy. There is an element of bandits on a ship at points, and I loved those bits, but there is also a rebellion element to the piracy within the story that is fierce and powerful. Political themes are rarely strong within YA literature, and when present are rarely presented and explored in such a rich manner.
The factions/ethnicities/nationalities/religions are diverse, proud, and their differences and morals fuel a complicated and intricate plot. Their differences are acknowledged immediately and we are shown quickly that their differences on such matters as magic, power, and attitudes to conflict. Yes, these were a little complex at first and it took a few chapters to really understand the web of complex relationships but it was well constructed and by the end I was appreciative of Sara Raasch’s dedication to providing the reader with information.
The relationships within this book are what elevate this from being merely a good YA fantasy novel. Adeluna (Lu) is a strong willed, badass young lady, full of knowledge and tricks and even though her childhood was one of complex and inappropriate wartime situations, she is a loving girl and supports her family and her beliefs. She is steadfast in her determination to find a magical cure for the plague wiping many friends and strangers in Grace Loray and surrounding areas, and she uses her familial position in court to gain as greater understanding of the political and magical positions and alliances as she can.
Devereux (Vex) is a rogue, a pirate, and an all round fun guy. He knows what he is good at and he knows where his weaknesses are and is not afraid to ask for help and use his brilliantly wonderful crew to help him. He has a persona that is infectious and there is a reason Lu’s brother (who is inexplicably carried along for their adventures) and many of the other young strangers that pop up in the novel choose to dress like him. He has secrets, and his motives are sometimes obscured, but his relationship with his crew, with the little boy, with his acquaintances, and most notably with Lu are based in mutual respect and trust and they are admirable qualities.
Aside from these were the Agridian characters, mainly Benat, that occupied the final story arc. They are almost described as evil zealots, pursuing religious beliefs with unwaivering fervour. Benat breaks the mould, in his academic pursuits, in his moralistic viewpoints, and his romantic relationships, and these are both heartbreaking and fascinating to read about. The religious and moral parallels and unwaivering faith in their beliefs draw modern day parallels to our current world and I think this centres the book in an unsettlingly familiar way that makes these elements seem that much more real and relevant, even if it is based in fantastical magic.
The book itself features all of the good things that I like. It has adventures, piracy, politics, magics, double crossing, jail breaks, plotting, and even a strongly thought through gay relationship. The story took a bit of time to ground itself and find its feet, but the complex and unfolding world was 100% worth it. By the end, I appreciated the extra time and effort that had been put into the political and historical aspects of the world and the people within it. By the end I was lost as to how I could cope without the next instalment!