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The Rebel Within (Rebels Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Annabelle was an awesome character. She is strong, tough, smart but also kind and compassionate. In a world where women think men as nothing more than things to be hated, Annabelle finds herself questioning everything. She hates the thought of hurting any boy or man but how can she do anything else? She has been drafted into the Mechs, an elite group of women who patrol and police the Outlands. Mechs are meant to capture men, they are meant to release them into the Outlands and make sure non enter their lands, but Annabelle doesn't want to be one of those! She longs to meet a boy and find out exactly what they are. I loved her inner strength and her need to be the best.
There are quite a few characters in the book but each adds something to the overall feel of The Rebel Within. Sam is the epitome of a strong independent woman. She trains the Mechs and pushes them all to be the best. Dara is the main competitor for Annabelle in the Mech competition. She is a huge aggressive girl and I found it hard to like her. Yet she pushes Annabelle to always be and do more. Then we have Annabelles sister, Janine. Annabelle will do anything to protect her from harm. She doesnt want Janine joining the Mechs because its not a place for a softhearted girl. I really liked their relationship and the trust Janine has in Annabelle.
I liked the idea of the Rebel Within, an all female society where women are trained to become the strongest, toughest cops out there. Men are all forced to wear collars and are used for what the women need. You may think it would be everything any women needs, but not so. They are ruled with an iron fist. There is no joy in the world as such, the Union doesn't allow any loud music, any additives like salt or sugar is banned and its all Union regulations for everything. This is why Annabelle longs for more and I could totally relate to her in that.
I did have a few things about the book that stopped me from enjoying it more. They were only minor though, like Annabelles' fascination with Morgan. She only sees him 2 or 3 times yet she thinks about him constantly. I know she has never met a boy but I do think it was a little overboard! I also wanted to know more about the Underground movement and what Annabelles mum had to do with them. We could of done with a little more of the boys perspective in this as well. We see glimpses of them fleeing but we never get to meet one or see what they were doing. As I said only minor things and they didnt detract from the story that much.
So overall, I really enjoyed the Rebel Within. Its an action packed and tense read and a solid start to the series. The training of the Mechs was really well described and very scary stuff. The poor girls go through an awful lot to become Mechs. The characters as well were well developed and for the most part likable. There are a lot of unanswered questions and I'm hoping we get the answers in future books. Im looking forward to seeing what happens next for Annabelle and hope to see more of the Outlands.
Annabelle dreams of escape but most importantly she is driven to protect her younger sister within the regime. Annabelle has an empathy for the males who live in her world and the story evolves as she tries to defy authority and to help some to escape. The Rebel Within refers to Annabelle's drive to follow her own moral code (much like her parents who suffered for their actions, so that now she lives with a polyamorous adoptive family). The plot is action-packed centred around Annabelle's training to become a "mech" warrior which she doubts she will survive. The angst that Annabelle experiences in learning to be true to herself and her heart is a compelling coming of age drama.
The book is written in the first person which I tend to dislike however the twisting plot was part adventure, part love story, part suspense and Annabelle's experiences and dilemmas were interesting enough so that her narration was only a mild irritation in an otherwise enjoyable and thought provoking dystopian tale.
Also, much of the plot centres around the other characters' inability to defeat in unarmed combat a very tall, muscle-bound fighter who charges her opponents like a bull, even though anyone with even the most glancing acquaintance with martial arts knows that a tall opponent who charges into combat is easily toppled and just begging to be thrown into a wall. *I* could take her, and I haven't done judo for 40 years. And absolutely nobody in the whole book, including the author, appears to possess anything remotely resembling a sense of humour.
All in all, if you want to read a story in which males are either obsolete or have been reduced to second-class citizens, imo you'd be better off with Consider Her Ways by John Wyndham, When Voiha Wakes by Joy Chant, Black Maria by Diana Wynne Jones or the wonderful Chanur series (The Pride of Chanur, Chanur's Venture. The Kif Strike Back, Chanur's Homecoming and Chanur's Legacy) by CJ Cherryth.
[NB Black Maria was sold as Aunt Maria in the US, where people don't know that a Black Maria is a type of British police van used to transport prisoners.]
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