October 2, 2019 , Wed
Review: Rogue Heart (Rebel Seoul, #2) by Axie OhRogue Heart (Rebel Seoul, #2) by Axie Oh
Series: Rebel Seoul #2
Published by Tu Books
on October 8, 2019
Pages: 357
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3 Stars

Warcross meets Final Fantasy in this companion novel to Rebel Seoul, in which a young telepath joins a rebel group on a secret mission to end a decades-long world war.

Neo Beijing, 2201.
To escape the ghosts of her past, eighteen-year-old telepath Ama works by day in a bakery and cafe, and moonlights as a lounge singer in a smoky bar at night. She's anonymous, she's safe from the never-ending world war, and that's how she'd like to stay. But then a resistance group called PHNX recruits her to help save young girls from a government experiment exactly like the one she fled. Soon, Ama is traveling with the resistance on a series of dangerous missions, using her telepathic and telekinetic powers to infiltrate authoritarian Alliance operations and gain intelligence for the democratic resistance.
As they move closer and closer to the warfront, Ama hears about a brilliant new commander rising in the ranks of the Alliance, a young man rumored to have no fear of death. Her unit is assigned to dismantle his operation from the inside. But when Ama sees the commander for the first time, she discovers his identity: Alex Kim, the boy who once broke her heart.

The plan is for Ama to use her telepathic abilities to fool everyone and pose as an officer in Alex's elite guard. But as the final battle approaches, she struggles with her mission and her feelings for Alex. Will she be able to carry out her task? Or will she give up everything for Alex again--only to be betrayed once more?

Part heist novel, part love story, Rogue Heart will appeal to fans of Marie Lu's Warcross and Marissa Meyer's Renegades.

I super loved Rebel Seoul. Two of my favorite things in the world are Pacific Rim and kdrama so when I heard about this series, I was already totally freaking in.
Honestly, this duology holds a special place in my heart simply because I’ve been a huge fan of Korean dramas for years now and to see some of these tropes and character types play out in novel format was just *chef’s kiss* for me. It also contains a good dose of anime inspiration (particularly with regard to mechs) so yeah, big fan.

*I received a copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

characters

๐Ÿ’‰ I honestly related to Ama a whole lot simply because she’s a different kind of strong than I’m used to in YA novels. She’s resilient. She’s terrified. She doubts herself. She never quite knows what she’s doing. And, most importantly, she’s not automatically good at things. She has to try so hard just to squeak by and she succeeds by the skin of her teeth. It’s so refreshing to see someone’s defining characteristics be sheer determination and effort. She’s got a good heart, and in this case, it’s enough to see her through.

๐Ÿ’‰ The side characters all had different end games and motivations and while you do get the sense that they care about each other (some more than others), ultimately, they prioritize their wants and needs over other’s feelings which is also something I found refreshing. It does contain elements of do anything for your family, BUT not at the cost of the mission and it doesn’t mean they don’t have specific differing ideas on how to achieve their goals. I want to note here that if you’re expecting to see a lot of the characters from Rebel Seoul, you’ll be disappointed– familiar faces don’t actually show up until nearly the end.

๐Ÿ’‰ There is no real villain in this novel– at least not a figure that you point at and think, “I must defeat them.” Instead, the villain is circumstance, it’s power, it’s corruption, it’s greed. It’s more that our characters are fighting the forces in power and their established regime than a person. Of course there’s no shortage of evil people in this story, it’s just… not about them? It’s about the world they created and the fight to change it.

plot

๐Ÿ’‰ The plot will feel familiar to fans of Star Wars because it’s essentially a story of rebels vs. the alliance. There are two factions: one that wants to maintain their power and shape the world to their greedy, dangerous ends and one that is trying to change it so that their people can live a better life. It’s a mashup of dystopian, science fiction, political machinations and government corruption with a slice of romance, which at times is not evenly balanced, but still entertaining for the most part.

๐Ÿ’‰ Themes stick to the tried and true good vs. evil. The haves vs. the have nots. One interesting thing that kept coming up was the question about whether the ends justify the means. Different characters struggle with the idea and what an acceptable loss is and how much of yourself (and other people– even ones you love) you sacrifice to accomplish your goal. One character in particular, Tsuko, was probably the most compelling anti-hero type to watch with regard to this idea. I almost wish we were getting a third novel from his perspective.

๐Ÿ’‰ There is a bit of romance in here that actually began in Rebel Seoul, but we’re at a much different place with a much different dynamic here. You have a bit of lovers to enemies to lovers situation that is bittersweet and angsty. It doesn’t really come into full play until the end, so you’ll have to hold out for a while to get some payoff.

writing

๐Ÿ’‰ My main issues here were with the writing, I’m sad to say. There were huge chunks of description and action left out that just didn’t make sense. In a few separate occasions, we are led into battle at the end of a chapter only to open the next chapter with the aftermath. There’s no sense of pull-through. How did we get here? What happened during the battle? Who got hurt? Who did we lose? What damage did we do? Unfortunately, this made me not as invested in the story sometimes because if you don’t describe the action to me and the struggle the characters went through, why should I care?

๐Ÿ’‰ A lot of it felt like filler. I loved getting a sense of Ama and her heart and the way she thinks, but sometimes I felt like we did nothing? The lack of action (or at least on page action) really made the book hard to get into and stay focused on. I liked Ama enough as a character and found her compelling so I stuck with it, but it really didn’t get my blood pumping until almost the end. The pacing is weird because at times you feel like the story is crawling or you’re reading a bunch of what I call interesting nothing, meaning it’s stuff that is interesting to you forย  whatever reason, but has no connection to the plot or story you can see that propels it forward.

๐Ÿ’‰ I feel like this is a case of the idea being better than the execution. I loved the idea, but ultimately felt like the execution was off. I also suspect this series maybe wasn’t supposed to be two books? It didn’t feel as strong and cohesive as Rebel Seoul.

this is the book you’re looking for if:

  1. You like Pacific Rim, kdrama, and/or mech-based animes.
  2. You want to follow a main character who is not good at everything and has to try super hard to succeed.
  3. You like books that talk about climate issues, socioeconomic disparity, and government corruption.
  4. You like angsty romance.
  5. You often find yourself becoming attached to side characters.

this is not the book you’re looking for if:

  1. You want to be in on the action and feel like you’re there.
  2. You like tightly plotted books with a lot of detail, description, and worldbuilding.
  3. You’re expecting this to be a true continuation of Rebel Seoul. It’s very much a companion novel.

now you!

๐Ÿ’‰ What are some of your favorite kdramas? Seriously, I need recs.
๐Ÿ’‰ Have you read this or Rebel Seoul? Thoughts?
๐Ÿ’‰ How do you feel about characters who often have to rely on others to help them succeed?

 

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About Diana

Diana is your sleep-deprived, fandom loving, payload escorting, book obssessing tourt guide and here you'll find a lot of words on things she loves. Carry on friends, there's much to see.

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