Writing the review for Rebel (415 Ink) is the hardest review I’ve had to write in a while. I’m a big fan of Rhys Ford and I love her work, but Rebel is a book that doesn’t work for me in a lot of ways. In this review I’m going to try and be as objective as possible to explain what I liked about Rebel and the parts of the story that didn’t work for me.
What did I like about Rebel?
Rhys Ford is a master at creating characters that are both tough, sweet and have a tortured history, but are able to overcome it and move on, despite everything that still happens. That balance – if that is the right wording – is what makes me love her stories as much as I do. Apart from great characters she also creates good stories around them. That is something I have always admired and I could see that in the bare bones of Rebel.
I also liked the set-up of the story. Set around foster brothers who mostly all live together and the tattoo parlor. In theory this story could be really good, but the execution left a lot to be desired.
What didn’t I like about Rebel?
That is the hard part. Not much apart from the above. The characters acted not like grown men with a damaged past, but rather full blown teenage drama queens. In this story it’s all about the past they can’t let go of and it’s spun and spun again in different conversations.
When I read the blurb I though it the story would focus on Gus and his kid and a renewed romance with Rey (in short). Instead the timeline for this story is wacky and there is no real continuation or plot. It jumps back and forth from past to future from scene to scene. It jumps from Rey to Gus too with no real idea of time passed.
Then there is the dialogue. It was in some instances just way too over the top and not befitting young men. For instance:
(Rey spotting August for the first time, flashback) “he’d been a too young fallen angel, wings scorched from the heat of his sins and filled with the promise of a wickedness so dark a seventeen-year-old Rey couldn’t begin to imagine its depths”
Apart from the dialogue there were overlong descriptions that constantly took me away from the story.
The biggest thing that bothered me about this story and why it doesn’t really make it past two stars is the relationship between Gus and Rey. It’s toxic really and far from believable. Rey feels this big hurt that Gus left him and the non-existent relationship they had before and he goes from feeling angry and hurt to wanting Gus to feeling like he abused Gus, confirmed by the things Gus then says to Rey on the topic. And thus Rey passes into the realm of martyrdom and for me a Captain Cardboard. Rey’s sudden turn-around just doesn’t make sense.
Then there is the part where all the women in the story are more or less evil, apart from the grandmother of Gus’ kid. From Rey’s mum who makes careless remarks to Gus’s mum and every other women they encounter. It just doesn’t feel right. Same as with the government agencies. Yes, there are some terribly rotten eggs and some people or kids have the worst of luck, but the way it’s done in the story has this far fetched feel to it. It seemed like everyone and everything was against Gus and his family.
So all in all, there were a lot of things about Rebel that didn’t work for me: the plot, the characters, the writing. I wanted to like it, but in the end the character just made me growly and frustrated. It’s the first book in a new series so I hope the next books will be better.