Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh
Publisher: Tu Books ( Imprint of Lee & Low Books)
Release Date: September 14, 2017
Summary: After a great war, the East Pacific is in ruins. In brutal Neo Seoul, where status comes from success in combat, ex-gang member Lee Jaewon is a talented pilot rising in the ranks of the academy. Abandoned as a kid in the slums of Old Seoul by his rebel father, Jaewon desires only to escape his past and prove himself a loyal soldier of the Neo State.
When Jaewon is recruited into the most lucrative weapons development division in Neo Seoul, he is eager to claim his best shot at military glory. But the mission becomes more complicated when he meets Tera, a test subject in the government’s supersoldier project. Tera was trained for one purpose: to pilot one of the lethal God Machines, massive robots for a never-ending war.
With secret orders to report on Tera, Jaewon becomes Tera’s partner, earning her reluctant respect. But as respect turns to love, Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to an oppressive regime that creates weapons out of humans. As the project prepares to go public amidst rumors of a rebellion, Jaewon must decide where he stands—as a soldier of the Neo State, or a rebel of the people.
My Rating:★★★★☆ ½
My Thoughts: Rebel Seoul is a detailed, richly plotted, and character-driven debut! With action, intrigue, and so much depth to the characters, world, and politics of this story, its a unique and immersive YA Sci-Fi/Dystopia to check out!
“Love is a country. It’s vast and endless and full of unbreakable hope.”
Rebel Seoul for me, was one of those books where your just so immersed in the story and become so connected to the world, characters, and in fitting all the pieces of the plot together, that by the time you reach the last page, you can’t believe its over.
Set in a futuristic Korea, we follow Lee Jaewon who is an ex-gang member, now a part of a prestigious military high school, Apgujeong Academy.
What was so fascinating about the setting, was how Oh contrasted the old with the new as seen through Neo and Old Seoul. While both are technologically advanced, through the writing you get a sense of the minute differences that set them apart and how it almost represents Jaewon’s conflict in understanding who he is and where he feels he belongs.
Told through a 1st person POV, the story starts off with Jaewon at a concert for a band C’est La Vie, with his friends Bora and Minwoo in Neo Seoul. Then on his way back to Neo Seoul he notices a girl in the crowd, but quickly dismisses it as he heads back.
The next day, he heads to school and an assembly takes place right before exams for Jaewon & class to determine military placement throughout the Neo States. The Director of the NSK (Neo State of Korea) is there not only announcing the latest accomplishments of the NSK with the Neo Alliance, but keep spirits up as the Acts of war continue.
As the story continues, Jaewon not only uncovers more about his past but the secrets within the Neo States of Korea as he works in the Tower, a government building of the NSK where he meets Tera, an enhanced soldier a part of the Ameratsu Project who has been trained to fight in the God Machines, aka militaristic giant robots.
Through the first person POV, you really get depth to the plot and the setting of the Neo Korea States, not only through the futuristic technology, intricacies of the government and military which pilots these states, but even through the day-to-day life Jaweon lives as he finds his place and learns more about the cities he thought he knew.
Through his time at the Tower, he begins to connect with Tera (the soldier he’s assigned to look after), while Alex is assigned with Ama and notice just how desperately she wants to live a normal life and how for her, she accepts that just isn’t possible, but she’s willing to take any chance she can get.
While there is romance hinted at throughout, this is very much a plot and character driven story! But you can’t help but love the dynamics between Jaewon & Tera ❤ ❤
I loved the connection and friendship between Ama & Tera! Very much like sisters, they look after each other, support each other and understand they are all each other has since growing up in the Tower together.
The characters we’re all so well-written and really came to life. We have Alex, one of his best friends and son of the Director, his other friends Bora & Minwoo, then there’s 15-year old soldier prodigy General Tsuko, and Tera + Ama.
Oh’s writing did a fantastic job at really detailing her futuristic setting which really allows you to see the Neo States from many angles, which is an aspect that I loved so much about this book. Additionally, while this is also a futuristic sci-fi, I also really loved how Oh added the normal everyday, with school, concerts, and friends in this action-packed and detailed story.
There are so many connecting pieces to the plot that with each chapter you understood more of the complexity of the setting, politics, and technology that run the futuristic world. I love that no matter what, I felt like I understood this world + its characters (main & secondary) so much, I never felt like there were aspects that felt underdeveloped or absent in any way. Oh really builds so much into this world, that by the time you reach the last page, you understand it so well!
My only minor issue would be that I just wanted more to the story, because there is just so much that you learn along the way, that you get so invested in the characters and their journey, that when you reach the build-up to the end, it feels like there’s still so much more to learn.
Rebel Seoul is a dynamic YA Sci-Fi/Dystopia that has so much depth and heart, you can sense it with each page! From the intricacies of the setting, world-building, plot, and characters, you’ll find yourself wanting to know more once you’ve reached the final page!