Rebel by Marie Lu Review

Rebel by Marie LuRebel by Marie Lu (Legend #4)

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (Fierce Reads)

Release Date: October 1, 2019

Pages: 384

Available Through The Book Depository: Rebel

Summary: Respect the Legend. Idolize the Prodigy. Celebrate the Champion. But never underestimate the Rebel.

Eden Wing has been living in his brother’s shadow for years. Even though he’s a top student at his academy in Ross City, Antarctica, and a brilliant inventor, most people know him only as Daniel Wing’s little brother.

A decade ago, Daniel was known as Day, the boy from the streets who led a revolution that saved the Republic of America. But Day is no longer the same young man who was once a national hero. These days he’d rather hide out from the world and leave his past behind. All that matters to him now is keeping Eden safe―even if that also means giving up June, the great love of Daniel’s life.

As the two brothers struggle to accept who they’ve each become since their time in the Republic, a new danger creeps into the distance that’s grown between them. Eden soon finds himself drawn so far into Ross City’s dark side, even his legendary brother can’t save him. At least not on his own . . .

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Rebel is a phenomenal addition and conclusion to the original Legend Trilogy! Lu’s finale is filled with politics, action, an incredibly gripping and character-driven story, while also revisiting our favorite characters facing a new, rising threat in technologically advanced Antarctica!

When this book was first announced, I still couldn’t believe it was real! I first read Legend in 2012 and followed the series till its end in Fall of 2013. The connection I felt to these characters, the world, and their cause easily made Marie Lu’s Legend Series, one of my favorite YA Dystopian series of all time, I still vividly remember my reading experience for each book in the series from Legend through Champion and felt June and Day come to life from their very first introductions!

I finished book 4 in less than a day (started it at 2 a.m., finishing by the afternoon on Tuesday) and I still can’t believe it was real!! Rebel was a truly spectacular addition and brought wonderful closure to Day, June, and Eden’s stories (thank you Marie Lu for allowing us to follow these kids and see the ending to their journeys 😭💜💙🦋)!

Introducing a new POV this time around, we follow the the Wing brothers who are now older, where we left them off in Champion! Eden is 19/20 (?) and Day is in his late 20’s!

Day, now working as an agent and Eden, whose one of the top students at Ross University. However, he can’t help but feel overwhelmed with being in his legendary brother’s shadow, who led a revolution back home in the Republic.

For a little bit of background (from what I remember), chronologically Rebel starts 1 month after Champion.

Eden finds the wonder in figuring out the how & why of things and is a brilliant inventor. So, when he and his best friend Pressa Yu (who both feel like outcasts) find adventure in one of the poorest and dangerous parts of Ross City, the Undercity, to take part in drone races, they aren’t expecting to get tangled up in the dangerous dealings of an even more dangerous criminal.

Day (now Daniel) is working for the Antarctican International Services as a secret agent hunting down dangerous criminals and has been looking for elusive crime lord, Dominic Hann. Not only does he have his secretive agent work, but he’s also trying to look after Eden, even as they keep drifting further away from each other.

However, Dominic’s secretive work brings both brothers together, while also keeping a rift between them when Eden begins to finally feel understood and seen by this dangerous criminal. They both go on an emotional journey as they learn to accept their past and bring each other back into their lives again.

What really surprised me about Rebel was that in reality, I was emotionally ruined but ultimately happy with the ending of Champion (though it was bittersweet). Even as we got novellas throughout the release of the Warcross duology, I still would have never imagined to have gotten a fourth book. But, I knew I would absolutely NOT be missing out on it! But in the end,  although I love each and every book in this series with all my heart, Rebel easily stood out as one of my favorite books in the series!!

And let me just say, Marie Lu brought back this series in such a brilliant way! From the individual journeys of the characters, presenting new stakes, and ultimately crafting a story that stands wonderfully on its own apart from the original series while also leaving the reader pondering about the wonderful future of these characters! If Marie ever decides to add more canon to this Legend world, I would not mind at all!! 😭💙

In reality though, this book left me a complete mess emotionally and I’m still not entirely sure what to do (possibly go back a reread it because I loved it so much? ❤❤)

Presenting a new and older side to these characters, you see how much they’ve grown, changed, and are (for the most part) a little more sure of where they want to be in the world as they face new responsibilities and challenges.

Not only do we see Day and Eden again, but also June, Anden, and Tess (though a bit briefly) and it was wonderful seeing the protagonists of this series together and interacting again. What really made this book incredibly special from a reader perspective/experience was noticing how differently I’m seeing this new book from when I initially read the original trilogy in high school to being a university student!

I found myself being even more invested in the politics of the world and could relate to the more adult challenges the cast was facing, like finding your place when you feel a bit lost in the world, reconnecting with people from your past, especially how Lu examined this theme of past following Day and Eden’s perspectives as they reflect on what happened during their time in the Republic (and how they are better understanding to learn and grow from it, not run away).

You see this struggle from both their POV’s (Daniel’s especially) as they attempt to resist letting in their pasts from the Republic! Where Daniel is still regaining his memories and reliving nightmares of the Republic as Day when he sleeps or faces death on the job as an agent. There’s this question that lingers in the beginning of the book whether he can even be Day anymore and can only be Daniel, which was a unique exploration to his character I wasn’t really expecting!

There’s also the contrast to Eden that we delve deep into throughout this book as well (who also has moments of remembrance the Republic during the time of the originally trilogy). Yet, he realizes that seems to be the only place where he feels he can belong. That struggle and contrast between the 2 of them was so brilliantly explored and I was not expecting that dynamic to play such a huge part in their development, but again, Marie does a phenomenal job at exploring and allowing them to move past their traumas.

“Some pasts can’t be left behind. They must be fought…” (259, Rebel by Marie Lu)

According to an interview Marie had with Entertainment Weekly she mentioned a challenge she faced while writing Rebel which was:

“Getting their voices right again. This was my first time revisiting the same characters after a pretty long gap. That was hard, trying to write the same characters in a different tone, with different personalities…”

I personally found she did such a fantastic job at this! You see the characters much older very briefly at the end of Champion and you see the maturity to them throughout Rebel, but there’s still those echoes of their younger selves that we followed throughout the original trilogy!

The new characters we’re introduced to, were all fantastic and I loved them all from Daniel’s fellow ASI agents and director: Jessa and Lara, & Min Gheren/ Eden’s best friend Pressa Yu, her father and our antagonist Dominic Hann.

Delving more into our main characters a bit, I loved learning more about Eden and he is the sweetest boy ever!! He loves flowers and inventing, and is the softest/sweetest―I loved following his POV & Daniel’s so much!! 😭💞💖

We obviously don’t get Eden’s POV in the original series, so to see Marie delve into his voice and character with the background we already knew of him was wonderful! Being able to expand on his character and see that growth to Eden after his struggles in the Republic just offered more insight to him and overall it was great to finally get a chance to read from his perspective! Also can we appreciate the sibling dynamic explored between these POVs??

Also its very subtle but something I noticed was how Marie delivered 2 male protagonists and explored this idea of confronting your emotions, it being okay to cry etc. (If your a fan of podcasts, the sci-fi podcast The Bright Sessions podcast does really well too w/ its male characters!). Breaking down toxic masculinity and highlighting the importance of showcasing your emotions, and normalizing this idea of admitting when you need people by your side 👏💖👏💖

I don’t often talk about villains or antagonists often in my reviews, but let me just say Dominic was a FANTASTIC villain! I found myself beginning to trust him like Eden was when he took him under his wing and found interest in his racing drone. Dominic is up front about his terms with Eden, follows through with his requests, and doesn’t bring harm to him in any way. So you see throughout Rebel, Eden can’t help but finally feel like he belongs in this city in ways he never did before. But of course, there’s much more to Dominic than he reveals in the beginning and I loved getting more to his past, his character as a whole, and overall just found him to be one of my favorite villains throughout this series and book!

Next lets talk world-building, because it was so good! We get introduced to Ross City and its unique point system back in Champion, but in this book we dive much deeper into its inner workings from the politics, danger, innovation, and potential it holds throughout Rebel! There’s a morally-grey side to this city that you uncover with each and every chapter as we follow Daniel and Eden! Ross City seems to put up a facade but as the story progresses you that begin to crumble slowly (but possibly for the better?).

Now onto the romance!! 💞💞 There was never a doubt in my mind we’d see Day & June talk to each other again and just reading Daniel’s POV as he was constantly thinking whether June would want to talk to him/whether they’d have time to be together…the whole time I was thinking: “Day! How could you possibly think that?? Of course she wants to be with you!! 😭💖”  While the Day & June reunion was something I was really looking forward to, I’m glad Marie also made it more of a minor plot thread. What I loved about how the romance was explored between the both of them was that although we know their backstory, it was gradually developed in quiet but intimate ways. We could see how much they really did miss each other, but weren’t sure how each of them would react in wanting to reconnect again!

There’s also 1 other pairing that I loved in Rebel, but I won’t spoil it, let me just say it was the cutest!! 💞

While Rebel is a book I loved with all of my heart, I did want to get into a couple minor critiques (but in no way did this impact my AMAZING reading experience). Firstly, between the Republic & Antarctica I was hoping for just a little more politics to be expanded on/delved into! Mainly, because this series really got me to love politics in storytelling and I was just hoping for more exploration in those threads in the Republic and beyond Ross City. Additionally, I just wanted a little more June/Daniel moments within the underlying conflict!

But overall…this book was SO GOOD! If you loved the Legend Series don’t miss out on Rebel because it concludes the series in such a great way that will leave readers and long-time followers of Legend really happy! It definitely did for me! 💖

Rebel brings readers into the world of Legend one last time as we follow Eden and Daniel’s lives in Antarctica! There’s politics, adventure, action, danger, newer stakes and much more as we follow our favorite characters once again in this latest installment! Wonderfully adding a new layer and depth to the Legend world and its characters, Marie Lu’s Rebel is a must read!

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