If you liked Pacific Rim, enjoy reading about intrepid teenage characters and need a good resistance movement story to enjoy, Rebelwing by Andrea Tang is just the book for you.
Set in a futuristic world where arms dealing corporations have taken over the entire Western Hemisphere, Prudence Wu, a book smuggling Prep school student, imprints on the Barricader’s last hope of defense–a dragon mech named Rebelwing. Pru lives in New Columbia, a city that fought and won its independence from the United Cooperation Coalition and a city that exists on shaky territory and an even shakier alliance. Pru’s imprint on the dragon is nothing short of disastrous, against the planning of its teenage engineer. But with the clock running out on an arms race that could be the end of the precarious peace that exists between the Barricader cities and the UCC.
I won’t lie, I was a bit confused by the slightly clunky exposition at times. The book had sold me at “dragon mechs” but was much more involved than that for better or worse. The high concept idea was really great and would serve as a fantastic graphic novel or adaptation of some sort, in part because we could get actual visuals of the world that we were reading about. I was also jarred at times by moments where the dialogue or prose tried a bit too hard, phrases or utterances by the characters that were just a bit on the nose. However, that didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of the book. I really was sold by the dragon aspect of it and enjoyed reading moments where Pru, a doubtful and cynical reluctant pilot, really melded with the dragon.
I also enjoyed the reminders of the reckless nature of the teenager’s activities. Her and her friends—the capable Anabel Park, engineer Cat, and wonder boy, Alex Lamarque, nephew of the Head Representative himself—make up the group of young adults who are working on Project Rebelwing and the adults in their lives never fail to remind them of their places. They’re not meant to be soldiers the way the last generation was, their meant to be children no more or less expendable than any other kids in their world.
For all the moments where the prose missed the mark, there were moments where the writing really shone for me. Diverse characters kicking butt against a oppressive regime? The character arc of a reluctant teenager finding her place in a group of other young rebels was really great to read. And I loved the camaraderie that the four of them built, hard won and solid after the trials and tribulations the experience together.
I really hope that there’s more to the series—I feel like so much just started for the characters. I want to get more of Rebelwing, of this incredible sentient mech. I want to see Alex and Pru’s chemistry grow and Cat and Anabel’s budding relationship. I want to see more of the geopolitical implications that the two sides’ complicit has caused.
I’m excited to read more in this world. This was a very impressive debut, and I’m sure that Andrea Tang’s next books will be just as vivid and intense as the first.