These Rebel Waves (Stream Raiders, #1)by Sara Raasch Published 07 Aug 2018
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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.
"These Rebel Waves (Stream Raiders, #1)" Reviews
I think perhaps Sara Raasch is just not for me. Though her books always sound compelling, I once again find myself distanced from the story by the writing, unattached to the characters, and generally apathetic towards whatever was going on.
Sorry to disappoint, but the rumours of gay pirates in These Rebel Waves are false. I guess this will continue to be where I get my gay pirate fix (CW: homophobia, mention of rape). It's not the author's fault; Raasch only ever promised gay romances - of which there are two, both m/m and f/f. The aforementioned pirate is straight.
The problem is I just found These Rebel Waves rather dry. There are three third-person perspectives and every single one left me cold; perhaps a first-person perspective would have generated some more emotion(?)
Adeluna "Lu" is a soldier on the island of Grace Loray; Benat "Ben" is the crown prince of Argrid, and queer; Devereux "Vex" is a pirate who deals in magic and finds himself assisting Lu in finding a missing diplomat (Also, why is he called "Vex"? Isn't it pronounced "dev-uh-roh"?).
It was really difficult for me to get on board and care about the story and politics. Despite what appearances might suggest, this is not a high seas pirating adventure, but a fairly standard dysto-fantasy novel. Many concepts are brought in and left vague, such as the religion and the Shaking Sickness. This society is heavily-defined by its religion and yet I felt like I never really understood what they believed outside of mutterings about the Pious God.
Similarly, it took me a long time to understand the magic system going on here. It is not explained very well, but it turns out to be a world where magic is botanical, existing only in magical plants and herbs.
But, really, I think it all comes down to the writing style not working for me. It was some combination of the distant third-person narration, the vagueness of the world and magic, and odd sentence choices like this:
The noxious tavern birthed Lu into the midnight streets of New Deza.
None of this made me care enough to want to go on the journey to find Miles, the missing Argridian delegate. I never felt strongly about the story's mission and would probably have put it aside if I wasn't reading an arc.
I was also a little disappointed by how the gay relationships were left bland and boring compared to the tension and flirtations between Lu and Vex. The gay couples got mentions but the only really shippable relationship was the main het romance. Though I did find it interesting that the author chose to have a deeply-religious society in which being queer was no issue at all. Men are betrothed to men, women are married to women, and no one bats an eyelid. I liked the idea of a world where religion and sexual orientation were in no way at odds with one another.
These Rebel Waves is not a terrible book, but there was nothing here that made me interested in reading on.
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*In the interest of not fanning the flames of rumours, I've removed my previous pre-review. I'm still excited to read this! But the source from which I heard that there were gay pirates in this book was clearly full of shite! The moral of the story? Don't believe everything that you read on the internet!*
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Friends, this just was not the book for me. And you know I hate writing “negative” reviews, so I’m going to try to keep this on the shorter side. But this book and the writing was just equal parts boring and daunting for me. Plus, the magic system was not explained, the characters were hard to like or believe, and I never cared enough to root for any of them. But I think what ultimately made me not love this book was because I went in thinking that we were going to see a crew of queer pirates, on the open sea, fighting battles, slaying monsters, and doing pirate things. This is not the type of book These Rebel Waves is. But on a positive note, this is a book filled with colonization, oppression, magical medical experimentation, religious hierarchies, political intrigue, betrayals, and what people are willing to do in the name of their God(s). And, it sort of has pirates.
And I don’t think that this was a bad book. I mean, obviously many of those topics are super important, but I went into this book just expecting something completely different. And I will totally take responsibility for that. But this book was also super boring, and it felt like a chore to pick up each and every time. I had to constantly reward myself with treats while reading. If this wasn’t an ARC, and if I wasn’t buddy reading this with two of my friends, I would have 100% DNFed this story. And that has nothing to do with the expectations of gay pirates.
And, full disclosure, one of the first books I ever DNFed was Sara Raasch’s Ice Life Fire, so maybe this author’s writing just isn’t for me. So, if you pick this one up, I hope you enjoy it more than I did. But I should probably give you some bare bones about the actual story and the three characters we follow!
➽ Adeluna / Lu - Soldier. Loyal to her family. Experiencing so much loss, and so much trauma, from childhood to present day.
➽ Devereux / Vex - Pirate. Master of disguise. Hinted that he’s queer, maybe even pan, but never stated.
➽ Benat / Ben - Heretic. Crown Prince. Obsessed with the magic that is forbidden. Queer, in a hidden m/m relationship. Also, I don’t know how I feel about the way Ben’s relationship developed, but I kind of don’t want to think about it or this book any longer.
And these characters are all on the same island and their three stories intertwine to maybe change the fate of the world as they know it. And each of these characters have to make choices that will truly decide what type of person they want to be.
In this world, magic is plant based and outlawed. But the thing is, the magic system is never explained. You just have to suspend your disbelief that it works some magical way for some people with the right reagents. I mean, I guess I’d say it’s like magic herbology. I guess? I don’t even know, because it’s so not explained. But anyone who uses this magic will be punished in the name of the Pious God.
Trigger and content warnings for death, murder, loss of a loved one, torture, colonization, physical abuse, child abuse, captivity, medical experimentation, and violence.
And there is also a disease that is killing people rapidly, that needs to be addressed. It’s called the Shaking Sickness, and Lu has felt the heartbreak from it many times. There is no treatment for it, it has no known cause, and it doesn’t spread from person to person. Some people die from it instantly, and other suffer with it for a long while.
So, we have magical plants, and a disease that is killing a lot of people. We have a pirate who is a smooth talker. We have a soldier who has been a soldier all her life, even when forced as a child. And we have a prince, who is dealing with the ghosts from his past. All these things come into play and send Lu and Vex on an adventure, and leaves Ben discovering the hypocrisy of the religion on the island.
My favorite thing about this book was a plot twist. Obviously, I’m not going to give any spoilers, but a certain plot twist in this book was so well done. The author expertly wove it into the entire story, and it is the reason I’m giving this book two stars instead of one. Seriously, it was amazingly done. And the next favorite thing was a beautiful f/f relationship involving two main side characters.
I know that the copy I read was an ARC version, but this book ends so abruptly. I felt like after the amazing plot twist, and finally seeing all the action form and start to take place, we are just cut off. Curtains drawn, lights out. I just sat with my iPad in my lap, blinking a few times, because I thought maybe I got an unfinished ARC. So, here is your warning that the ending is a little brutal.
Overall, this just wasn’t for me. I went in expecting so much and was given so little. And even with so little, it was so different than what I was expecting. I do predict that the next book in this series will be better. I just don’t think I’ll be picking it up. And if you go into this expecting gay pirates, sailing the seas and fighting for injustice, like I did, you’re going to be disappointed. Again, I hate feeling so negative, so I hope that if you give this one a try that you will enjoy it much more than me! Happy reading, loves.
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Buddy read with Hamad & Jules! ❤
Beautiful Sprayed Edges!
LINK TO THE GOODIES
I'm on the fence so I'm leaving it at 3 stars for now 😕
Actual rating: 1.5 stars
You can find this review and other non-spoilery reviews @The Book Prescription
🌟 Expectations is the keyword here, if you see the top reviews on GR, you will see that they are all readers excited for a “Gay Pirates” story, after seeing all those reviews I was pretty sure that was what we are getting. Obviously, apart from a minor focus on an LGBTQ character, this has nothing to do with the whole “Gay pirates” thing.
🌟 So, this has nothing to do with pirates, this has no ships with a captain, no wooden leg, no parrot and no sea adventures! This mostly takes place on land so keep that in mind. And if an author wants to write a book about gay pirates then the opportunity is still there and I think it will be successful with all this hype!
🌟 So what is this about? If I want to describe this vaguely and what it deals with, then:
Botanical magic and religion!!! you see there is a huge difference between expectations and the reality.
🌟 I was always fascinated by “green magic” that has to do with plants and potions… etc so a story with this as the fantasy element must be interesting, unfortunately, I think the execution was not the best, there could have been many amazing ideas for this kind of magic! But in reality, it was so basic and bland!
🌟 But the thing that mostly irked me is the writing style, I can’t stand repetitions and this book was full of repeated words; for example:
– 9 is the number of times the word “Heresy” was used.
– 22 is the number of times the word “Eminence” was used.
– 115 is the number of times the word “Pious” was used.
– 164 is the number of times the word “God” was used.
I can’t ignore these things and every time the word Pious was used, a small part of my soul was dying! -I know it was used for emphasis but a line was crossed in the number of times it was used- I even couldn’t find anything to quote because it just put me in a bad mood 😦 😦
🌟 The story was boring too and I wish I knew how to skim well because I just wanted to be done with it, There was a good and unexpected twists toward the end but other than that I was not intrigued by this! Same goes for the characters!
🌟 In short: I recommend going into this without the whole LGBT expectations, this is more of a story with a religious story line, the story can be good only if you go into it with different mindset! I truly wanted to enjoy this but I simply couldn’t.
Buddy reading this with GR sweetest soul ever!
ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
***The final pre-release contest for THESE REBEL WAVES is happening NOW through July 31!!***