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.
I was on board at mechanical dragon. I mean, it’s a MECHANICAL DRAGON. And if I’m being completely honest, that’s all I really knew about the book before going into it. I knew it had a dystopian backdrop and there was some government fighting going on, but mechanical dragon was at the forefront, of course. Another thing that was driving my need to read this book was Vicky’s love and flailing’s about it! I know she has good taste, so she made me even more eager to read it. Trigger warnings: death of a parent, grief
This book is GOOD. The best way I can describe it, is that is feels like an action flick. An action flick that just works, with it’s dramatically peppy music and intense actions scenes, with chaotic humor running through it all. That’s Rebelwing, and it works really well.
The characters were a highlight for me! Seriously, the are the definition of chaos. Pru was wonderful. She hides a lot behind sarcasm and self deprecating humor, but she also feels incredibly young and scared. She’s a seventeen year old girl being pulled into a plot by two governments when all she wants to do is get into a top university. She’s smart and she’s funny and she just feels like an all around wonderful person. Alex surprised me, he’s a pretty boy with just as much sarcasm as Pru. They certainly make an interesting team. Anabel was is a sweet talker, but isn’t afraid to turn those words sharp if the situation calls for it. And Cat was reserved but whip smart, and more than willing to get to the heart of matters, even if the truth hurts. I loved all of them, and they created such a great, solid group of core characters.
One of my favorite things about all of them was how young they felt. They felt like four teenagers pulled into a conflict of adults. It’s the adults that are feuding and leaning on the precipice of war, and the kids are caught in the crossfire. All of them weren’t born into the cause, and Pru has reservations about joining up, like a normal seventeen year old girl. It truly felt like this book took into account how old these characters were and how that would factor into their actions and honestly their world as whole.
That said, this means that the adults, the ones trying to start or prevent a war, also played a really big role in this book. Which I loved! They’re the one causing all these problems, and they’re the adults, they should handle some of it. Plus, the reflection of events and the parallels were top notch (being purposefully vague because of spoilers haha).
Alright, let’s get to the mechanical dragon! They mechanical everything really, because the way this book uses technology and ties it with fantasy was incredible. Like, mechanical dragons. Really, it’s as cool as it sounds. There’s a giant metal dragon flying around. It’s a robot dragon. I could say that over and over again because it’s just that cool. There’s tons of high tech goings on and all of them were fascinating.
Overall, this was a really, really fantastic book. There’s tons of sarcastic humor, teens who felt like teens, heart shattering moments, queer characters, mechanical dragons, book smuggling, government takedowns, all of which came together to create a truly incredible book.