Content notes for The Second Rebel by Linden A. Lewis: violence, abuse, death, oppression, blackmail, warfare and corruption
- There are all kinds of violence in this they do include torture and experimentation on humanoids, which while mostly off-page is central to the plot
- Once again sexual abuse, while mentioned only happens off-page and there is also discussion of domestic abuse and child abuse
- Similarly, there are all kinds of death, including mentions of suicide
Representation: An array of queer characters, including bi, pan-ace and nonbinary mains, as well as characters of colour (Hispanic and Japanese coded)
Linden A. Lewis’ debut, The First Sister, was, despite some minor issues I had with the novel, one of my favourite books of 2020. Accordingly, I was quite excited about the sequel, The Second Rebel, and looking forward to its release. Unfortunately, my memory sucks and I had some real trouble getting back into the story of this trilogy. The first novel was so dense with information and action and … stuff and I really only recalled the basics, which made reading The Second Rebel somewhat confusing at first.
Because while The First Sister is dense with information, The Second Rebel really does a deep dive into worldbuilding. This time around there are four points of view, Astrid and Lito return or rather continue their stories, Hiro finally gets to add their part and not just flashbacks, and then Luce, Lito’s sister, is added to the mix. All four are obviously deeply entangled in the Icarii and Gean conflict and trying to achieve their own goals – as it turns out, those become more and more aligned.
However, and that was perhaps the main reason why this so strongly felt like the middle book of a trilogy to me, while it does become more and more obvious how and why the four story lines are interconnected, there is still some obvious distance between parts of them. Astrid’s POV especially is all over the place and jumps around a lot while having only a minimal connection to the other three – and it annoyed me a lot. While Astrid was easily my favourite in the first novel, I kept finding myself wishing for her parts to be over so I could get back to the other three, which are way more interwoven. Astrid’s POV is not bad per se but it seems unbalanced in comparison to Lito, Luce and Hiro and I did feel that it was missing some things that should have been explored way more than they were – especially the Astrid/Hiro and Astrid/Ringer angles.
I think this is also what makes this feel so much like the middle of a trilogy – unlike the first novel, which felt like it was way longer than it actually was because of the dense story telling, this one actually has over 500 pages. And while The Second Rebel also has a lot more detail than The First Sister did, it also just feels a lot longer and this time not in a good way. There are elements that just feel like they are being set up for a big finale in the next book and for me the whole story suffered because those parts and the feeling that they were going nowhere right now just annoyed me after a while.
At the same time, there was so much about this novel that I loved. I absolutely adored the sibling relationship between Lito and Luce and Hiro was very much a highlight of the book. Linden A. Lewis also does an amazing job of further expanding on the amazing world building of the first novel, the complex webs of politics, machinations and intrigue. I especially liked the more in depth look at the Asters and their shifting relationships with the other groups in this. And the last few chapters? They were so captivating! Again, there were a lot of unexpected twists and turns and to be honest, by the time I got to the ending, the last few chapters had all but made up for the somewhat lagging middle of the story.
So, all in all while I did not enjoy The Second Rebel quite as much as The First Sister I enjoyed it a whole lot and I think, if you liked the first novel in this trilogy, you will like this one as well. And you will definitely be excited for the finale next year – I certainly am!
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