Book Review: These Rebel Waves (Stream Raiders #1)

Title: These Rebel Waves

Author: Sara Raasch

Pub. Date: August 7, 2018

Pages: 474

Pub: Balzer + Bray

Genre: YA Fantasy

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5

Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Argrid, a country ruled by religion. But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something more dangerous is at work.

Devereux is a pirate. As one of the outlaws called stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he pirates the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war.

Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he’s building his own pyre.

As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are . . . and what they are willing to become for peace.

This will be a spoiler free review. I listened to the audiobook via Audible. I don’t know why I slept on this book for as long as I did, but I’m kicking myself. I’ve loved everything Sara has written so far, so I don’t know why I didn’t pick this up sooner. It’s slightly different than what I was expecting, but omfg I’m completely hooked, and I love these characters.

I honestly don’t know why I didn’t pick this book up sooner…well I guess that’s a little bit of a lie. I had tried the audiobook back when it first came out, and I just wasn’t interested. I was trying to force myself to read when I wasn’t in the mood, so I ended up not reading or listening to it.

I don’t know what made me pick it up again – maybe because I’d just read Set Fire to the Gods (I’ve linked my review) or because the Snow Like Ashes Trilogy is one of my favorites, or I was just in the mood for pirates. But whatever the reason, I’m so glad I picked it up. I’m legit obsessed and so sad that there are only two books, and that at the time of writing this review, I’m almost done with These Divided Shores and I don’t know what to do with myself.

I will say that I’m not the biggest fan of tyrannical religious orders – they often piss me off and can be deal breakers – religious zealots aren’t my thing. But that being said, the religion and the world that Sara creates sucks you in, and then you meet the characters opposing the zealots and you just can’t help but engage. It also helps that my rage towards the religion keeps me reading and wanting to find out and see how Lu and Vex will take it down.

Speaking of characters, I love the main three, Lu, Vex and Ben. Well, I love Ben more in the second book, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Lu is amazing. I love that all she wants is the best for her people, her island. She sacrificed so much as a child, so the fact that she just wants peace makes so much sense. But everything isn’t as it seems – she was a child forced to do and bear horrible things, and her vision is clouded. Her journey of seeing what her island is really like, the broken promises and hurt that people feel – on top of dealing with an impending attack…she’s incredible. I mean, her character in this book, and through the next is stunning – it’s not all good and she makes some questionable choices and goes through more shit – she’s very imperfect and Lu is easily one of my new favorite characters.

Then you have Vex, and you can’t not love him. It’s impossible. His backstory is tragic, and how he’s chosen to live his life maybe be a little selfish, but it’s not without selflessness. Sara knows how to write characters so well and I love her for it. She makes you feel everything Vex feels. And his chemistry with Lu – jfc it’s perfect. Their whole relationship just works so well and it’s so addicting.

And finally, Ben. Ben who has been manipulated, hurt, traumatized and basically pushed around his whole life. Like most of these characters, his childhood was rough (to say the least) and it’s shaped him into a man that is almost wholly too trusting to those he cares for, and wholly mistrusting of everyone else. Not wanting to risk the ire of his asshole father, he turns a blind eye and pretends to be the obedient son. But as things are revealed and Ben starts to see how the world really is, after a betrayal that wounds him to his core, he starts to change.

I really had no expectations going into this book, other than pirates. I’m so glad I gave it a second chance. The ending to this book just leaves you dying for the next one, and it’s a good thing it’s out – I didn’t have to wait. I’m sad I’m almost done These Divided Shores, but I’m so happy I got to go on this journey with these characters. If you haven’t picked this duology up yet, then you really should. Go into it expecting pirates, a magic system based on herbs (it’s really quite imaginative and wonderful), a religion based on the antithesis of the magic system, and three characters that you’ll want to protect and hug – because I do.

Once again, Sara Raasch as proven to be amazing at what she does, and I cannot wait for her next book.

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