My first novella, City of Kaiju, is finally out! Available through Amazon and Books2Read. You can see a preview of the very first chapter here. Help support a fresh new author with a fantastic read this summer.
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Today’s novel review is Rebel Born, by Amy A. Bartol. You can buy a copy here. If you haven’t seen them, I reviewed the last two books in the series, Secondborn and Traitor Born. This has been a long time coming. It’s a dystopia story about Roselle St. Sismode, a Secondborn who joined her Fate’s military and was thrusted into power against her will.
As a note I will be referring to the previous two books, so this will have spoilers from those. So if you haven’t had a chance read them all before digging in to this review. Speaking of, let’s get going.
A Traitor Made, A Rebel Born
After the fateful incident in the Secondborn trials, Roselle is at the mercy of Crow and becomes his mind controlled slave. However, a chance encounter with Reykin’s brother, Ransom, provides a chance when she learns that she may be a descendant of the goddess of the same name blessed with the same powers. Now, with Crow taking hold of an AI unit that spans the universe, she must band together to stop Crow at all costs.
I had thoughts about this story throughout but overall, it was a satisfying tale by itself. It answers a lot of questions about who Crow is, why Roselle is so important, and the relationship between her and Reykin. The writing is solid as usual and a lot of the beloved cast members return.
The main focus was the idea of the gods and goddesses coming to life and returning as reincarnations or immortals. While the gods and goddesses were mentioned numerous times beforehand having this twist appear so late feels a bit out there.
Granted, while the mythology was prevalent (and I’d understand it better if I read the previous books, but it became a jarring moment when it became someone fantasy-ish later on. Not that I mind, I got accustomed to it later on. Cherno, a dragon god, was a good character to follow. He’s basically Roselle’s bodyguard and protector, always going where he goes. His dead serious attitude in contrast with Roselle’s sarcasm was a delight to read and made me wish he could have appeared earlier. That would have given the gods and goddesses more importance rather than a plot twist out of nowhere.
Kind of weird discussing that when that’s the point, though I might be overthinking it since these deities were brought up initially. It’s also here where we see Roselle’s growth with a mysterious implant where she receives her powers and the possibility of her being immortal. Though as the story goes on, it seems to lose its appeal.
Roselle definitely becomes a goddess, yes, but it becomes an issue the longer it goes. The power doesn’t seem to abide by any clear-cut rules. Even though it’s unique to her, she can implant it in anyone, thereby making them just as immortal. This seems to dull any impact since it makes Roselle an instant reset button whenever anyone dies. The impact of some deaths (no spoilers) seems null when she can just reverse it in an instant. Resurrection is such a powerful plot device that can easily be abused, as seen here. It’s my primary issue with this book and kinda makes the previous stories, what made them unique, into something that went out of control. I was half expecting her to Thanos snap every single Crow clone out of existence at this rate.
As far as the main plot, it had a solid start. The story involved her escaping from Crow’s lab and reuniting with Reykin. There were plenty of calm moments, which, for a final book, left with character development throughout. I felt there was more focus on that since, clearly, Crow would have made every effort to find Roselle and take her down. Except he allows her to grow stronger overtime and eventually allow his ego to overwhelm him, almost unaware of her power somehow despite being god-like himself towards the end.
The pacing felt weird throughout. Plenty of action, yes, but lots of downtime. In fact, I feel we went about 10 chapters inside of the underwater base focused on character development. I feel for a final book, it should go all out, not focus on stuff that could be tightened better with more of the same. I also felt the final act felt rushed and made Roselle more powerful as far as the climax was concerned.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the story. As far as the overall book, I enjoyed seeing more of Roselle and her fight against Crow. It still had its wow moments, and its touching scenes, and if the magic and powers were handled better and not abused, it would be a fun finale. While flawed, I found this entertaining enough to be a good alternative to other stories of its kind. If you want, definitely check it out.
- Great beginning.
- Roselle and Cherno’s interactions
- Too little action.
- Ending feels rushed and overpowered.
+/- Gods being involved felt strange, but I got used to it.
3/5 – Decent story
That’s all for today. If you liked this post and want to see more, I have a Ko-Fi page set up. Why spend three bucks on a Starbucks Coffee when you can help support hard-working authors like me? Every bit helps and keeps me going. So thank you, and remember, the inn is always open.