Tanita's review of the first book, Tankborn. Once I started it, I was hooked, and quickly binged on both the first book and the second, Awakening. Because this is the third and final (I think) volume of Kayla and Devak's story, I'm going to keep it brief and as spoiler-free as possible. Still, if you haven't read the first two, I'd still perhaps avoid the remainder of this review, just in case...
Okay, for those of you who aren't living in fear of spoilers (for whatever reason--I have a friend who really just does not care about spoilers and will regularly read online synopses of TV shows before watching them, which to me is just bizarre)--
By this third volume, both Kayla and Devak are deeply embroiled in the growing social revolution on their planet. They've learned a lot about themselves and each other, and about the origins of their class-based society of genetically engineered non-humans (or GENs) and the various castes of trueborns. But although their own personal sense of empowerment grows, the danger grows with it: Kayla has now been brought to the headquarters of the mysterious F.H.E. movement, only to find that her movements and activities are just as restricted here in the heart of the alleged social rebellion. Why? And will finding out put her in even more danger?
Meanwhile, Devak doesn't even know Kayla is still alive. The last time he saw her, she was engulfed by an explosion set by FHE, her body carried away by mysterious strangers. As he heals, and comes to terms with the ever-diminishing social status of his own family, he tries to find out what happened on the day of the explosion. With the help of his friend Junjie, he starts tracking down some information...and what he finds shocks him: Kayla might still be alive somewhere. But where? And even if they do find each other, what will happen to their society, their world, if everything they ever knew is torn down?
Peaks: Like the other two books, this one caught me up right away in the action, intrigue, and danger for both Kayla and Devak. The stakes for the trilogy have reached their grand climax in this volume, not just on the level of each character's personal struggles, but also with respect to the social and political forces that have been roiling ever since the first book. I won't give away too much, but the author ties everything together in a satisfying way while still throwing in some extremely fun and rewarding surprises for the reader.
Valleys: I can't say there were any major valleys for me. I always find this part awkward when discussing the work of someone I know or have met, but truly, even the sparse minor quibbles I noted in the first book have dwindled over the course of the trilogy, as the writing seems to have gotten even tighter from book to book. I think fans of the Tankborn books will be really pleased by how everything concludes.
Conclusion: I'm so glad I read these, and feel privileged to have met the author and gotten to hear her speak on the #WeNeedDiverseBooks panel. Here's a writer who practices--in writing and in life--what she preaches in terms of getting more books out there with diverse characters in ALL genres. As a fan of Spec Fic, I couldn't be happier to see books like these which tackle the topic of what really makes us HUMAN, an indefinable something that is much, much more than skin deep.
I purchased my copy of this book at KidLitCon. You can find Rebellion by Karen Sandler at an online e-tailer, or at a real life, independent bookstore near you!