Review: These Rebel Waves - Sara Raasch

These Rebel Waves (Stream Raiders, #1)
These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch
Series: Stream Raiders #1

My rating: {★★★★☆}

YA Fantasy
Expected publication: August 7th 2018 by Balzer + Bray

Source: ARC received from Balzer + Bray via Edelweiss
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.

**I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Any quotes were taken from the advanced readers copy and as such may not be accurate or present in the final version**

I buddy read this book with the super awesome Amy from A Magical World of Words. We had the best chats and I always enjoy a buddy read with a #squad member. Her review is live on her blog here

I really adored this book. Having not read anything by Raasch before I wasn't sure what to expect but These Rebel Waves exceeded anything I dared hope for.

I really enjoy complex and well thought out fantasy worlds, and this is a seriously intricate world with a rich history and as a bonus it's chock full of diversity - we have various cultures and religions as well as sexual orientations.

I loved the magic system which is as unique as it is intriguing - there are certain plants with magical properties that can be used in different ways to produce various effects: medicinal, explosive etc. It was great seeing the blend of science with fantasy here as well as seeing the effect that such commodities had on the world - religiously, economically and long term effects on people from the use of the botanical magic.

“If you control something first, it isn’t as scary.”
“I don’t want to control it. I want to understand it.”
“Same idea, better approach.”

There are three main point of views to follow; Adeluna (Lu), the rebel; Devereux (Vex), the pirate; and Benat (Ben), the Holy Eminence Prince. There's also a lot of supporting characters but each of the characters is so individual and specific that I had no problem keeping track of everyone in my mind.

It wasn't clear how Ben's story would weave into the stories of the other two main characters, but he was still easy to root for and when the fusion occurred it was seamless and fantastic.

I loved that Benat, as the Prince, was in a relationship with another man, a Defensor of the church and the only real problem with their relationship was that of the sin of sex before marriage. It was interesting and refreshing that Raasch chose to have sexual orientation a complete non-issue in this heavily religious world.

Whatever you fear so much about yourself, it’s part of you. You can either keep fighting or change your expectations

There's plenty of detail and to be honest, a bit of info dumping in the first few chapters. But there really is so much to learn about the world and the characters. It's complex and can be difficult to unravel the politics and sometimes the plot seemed to be weighed down from all the political info which gave a bit of a flow and pacing issue but there's enough action to keep readers interested and the stakes are high enough to remain invested.

There's a slow burn romance which develops so sweetly with a lot of chemistry and tension. It was just so shippable and full of flirtatious banter but I also appreciated that the relationship didn't really come to the forefront of the plot.

These Rebel Waves is a compelling book with a detailed, politically heavy plot with plenty of action, adventure and betrayal as well as breathtaking twists and a cliffhanger that will have you crying out for the sequel.

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