Rebelwing is everything I wanted and more. Prep school setting, smuggling, and cybernetic dragons? Even more than that, Rebelwing asks questions about censorship, rebellion, and hope.
Business is booming for Prudence Wu.
A black-market-media smuggler and scholarship student at the prestigious New Columbia Preparatory Academy, Pru is lucky to live in the Barricade Coalition where she is free to study, read, watch, and listen to whatever she wants. But between essays and exams, she chooses to spend her breaks sweet-talking border patrol with her best friend, Anabel, in order to sell banned media to the less fortunate citizens of the United Continental Confederacy, Inc.
When a drop-off goes awry, Pru narrowly escapes UCC enforcers to find that her rescuer is, of all things, a sentient cybernetic dragon. On the one hand, Pru is lucky not to be in prison, or worse. On the other, the dragon seems to have imprinted on her permanently, which means she has no choice but to be its pilot.
Drawn into a revolution she has no real interest in leading, Pru, Anabel, and friends Alex and Cat become key players in a brewing conflict with the UCC as the corporate government develops advanced weaponry more terrifying and grotesque than Pru could have ever imagined.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Prep school smuggling in a Science Fiction setting with sentient cybernetic dragons? I feel like Rebelwing was made for me. Rebelwing is an action packed story that features an unlikely heroine and examines questions of capitalism, greed, and censorship. In times of rebellion, we are asked what kind of leaders we want to be, what kind of sacrifices we are willing to make. This SF book is set in a world swirling with the politics of censorship and media. How does this effect not only our culture, but what we can believe is possible?
Throughout Rebelwing there’s humor and a wry tone which is all thanks to the characterization of Pru. She talks about what it’s like to be one of two Asian students at her prep school as well as the class privilege between herself and her classmates. Thrown headfirst and unexpectedly in the midst of a revolution, Pru is surrounded by people who are passionate about a cause. But for Pru she has never really had a cause she was willing for which she was willing to fight.
Pru is a fantastic character because her decision whether she will be involved is so unique. Unsure what she believes in, what will happen if she doesn’t rise to take the mantle? Can she afford to not become involved? Can she find something to believe in during the revolution?
Having to pilot Rebelwing, Pru is faced with her weakness and the ways in which she has tried to avoid the things that have exposed her vulnerabilities. The pain of trying and striving knowing failure lays right beneath us. I loved seeing the development of her feelings towards Rebelwing and the revolution as a whole.
I also loved the friendship between Prudence and Anabel. While it may have sprung from being the only two Asian students, it has evolved into steadfast dedication. Teasing and loyalty. Another relationship I loved was between Pru and her mother. I don’t read a lot about single mothers in the SFF world, but this was a fantastic portrayal that made me cry.
Thematically, Rebelwing is fantastic. I’ve already mentioned that it discusses rebellion and censorship, but it only gets more complicated as the story progresses. I don’t want to spoil the further plot points, but if you’ve been craving a thoughtful YA SF book, then look no further! There’s also a queer SC/romance. Rebelwing is about sacrifice and creation, rebellion and hope, resistance and idealism, grief and friendship. It celebrates the importance of stories, belief, and possibilities.