I Expected More: Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh

I Expected More: Rebel Seoul by Axie OhRebel Seoul
by Axie Oh
Release Date: September 15th 2017
Published by Tu Books
Genres: Dystopia, Romance, Sci-Fi, YA
Format: eARC
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two-half-stars
Source: ARC received for review purposes

After a great war, the East Pacific is in ruins. In brutal Neo Seoul, where status comes from success in combat, ex-gang member Lee Jaewon is a talented pilot rising in the ranks of the academy. Abandoned as a kid in the slums of Old Seoul by his rebel father, Jaewon desires only to escape his past and prove himself a loyal soldier of the Neo State.

When Jaewon is recruited into the most lucrative weapons development division in Neo Seoul, he is eager to claim his best shot at military glory. But the mission becomes more complicated when he meets Tera, a test subject in the government’s supersoldier project. Tera was trained for one purpose: to pilot one of the lethal God Machines, massive robots for a never-ending war.

With secret orders to report on Tera, Jaewon becomes Tera’s partner, earning her reluctant respect. But as respect turns to love, Jaewon begins to question his loyalty to an oppressive regime that creates weapons out of humans. As the project prepares to go public amidst rumors of a rebellion, Jaewon must decide where he stands—as a soldier of the Neo State, or a rebel of the people.

Pacific Rim meets Korean action dramas in this mind-blowing, New Visions Award-winning science fiction debut.

ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


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When a book is described as “Pacific Rim meets Korean action dramas”, it’s hard for a fan of both of those things to ignore. Rebel Seoul comes highly recommended from fellow bloggers, which just added to my excitement of reading the book. Perhaps it was my high expectations, but Rebel Seoul wasn’t the book I was led to believe it would be.

The premise of the book is certainly interesting. The futuristic/dystopian South Korean setting is fresh and unique, but only bare bones of the world are explored here, which makes it hard to become invested in the story. A lot of the world building, and the history of the war that led to this new Korean society feels like info-dumping, which means the book is peppered with these dense chunky paragraphs explaining the world. It’s not how I personally enjoy reading the world building of a book, and it led to moments of boredom for me. The plot is also slow-paced, which didn’t enhance my enjoyment of the story. You would think that a book that features God Machines, basically robots that help fight in war, and scientifically militarized human weapons, would be intense and action-packed. Unfortunately, Rebel Seoul fails to effectively use them to create a kick-ass story, which is quite the disappointment if you ask me because there’s so much potential with the pages of this book.

The characters weren’t better, in my opinion either. While I liked being inside Jaewon’s head, the rest of the secondary characters were flat and needed to be fleshed-out more strongly. Jaewon himself is an interesting character because he is dealing with a lot – his father died in a suicide mission, his mother abandoned him and his relationship with his only friend is frayed beyond repair. His thoughts are not always a happy place, but it fit the tone of the story, and I grew to care for his happiness as Rebel Seoul progressed. But as I said, the rest of the cast didn’t particularly leave any kind of impression on me. I would have especially liked to see more development in Tera’s character, a human weapon. I really think she could  have been a memorable character hadn’t she come across as a caricature of sort. The lack of development in the secondary cast also means I didn’t find the romances to be particularly ship-worthy. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that they feel forced into the story. I was surprised when declarations of love popped up because I barely felt any progression in the relationships.

I’m sad that Rebel Seoul didn’t work for me because it seemed like the kind of story that would hit all the right notes. From glancing at reviews on Goodreads, it does seem like I’m a black-sheep with this book, so if you’re curious about the book, give it a try!

What is one recent book that you’ve been the black sheep for?
Let me know in the comments below!

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Nick
  • I hate when you have high expectations for a book, especially when it comes highly recommended, only to be let down.

    • Yeah, it especially sucks with this one too because so many of my friends loved it.

  • It’s always frustrating when you go into a book expecting to love it, and then not. I’m sorry this one didn’t work for you Nick.

    • Yeah it is. :/

  • kindlemom1

    So sorry this wasn’t quite what you were expecting. That can be so disappointing and frustrating. I had this in my TBR pile as well and I think I just might pass on it. Wonderful honest review Nick!

    • I don’t think you’re missing out on much tbh, Ali.

  • I feel that I am so often the black sheep when it comes to a book

    • That sucks. I don’t like being the black sheep.

  • The info-dumping doesn’t sound fun. I mean, I like when I read certain sci-fi books that get really technically with the science, even if it does feel a little slower, but it needs to still fit & be interesting. And yes, I’ve definitely been a black sheep..

    • It wasn’t done well here was the issue. You are just told a bunch of random information about the world out of the blue, which was jarring. :/

  • I so hate when I think I will love a book and it doesn’t work for me. Info dumping is so rough too. Sorry this was disappointing!

    • I know and so many people kept hyping it up on Twitter. I was sure I’d adore it!

  • Too bad it felt like info dump. Usually there will be aspects that intrigue me.

    • Yeah it was just too much.

  • It sucks when you are the black sheep and end up being a disappointed when all signs say you should love a book. I haven’t had the feeling of late but the book which springs to mind for me was Labyrinth Lost. It was about witches, I love witches and it had culture and a bi MC and it was totally awesome… except I had to DNF because the MC frustrated the hell out of me and the story wasn’t enough to keep me reading and it was so disappointing.

    I think the book sounds cool, if I see it I will read and see if I enjoy it. Info dumping isn’t the best way to relay everything, I’m not always a fan it needs a really good story to make me forget about the info dump which happened. It does sound like this book has the potential to be awesome so maybe it just wasn’t one for you.

    • Oh man! I bought Labyrinth Lost a few months ago. Now, I’m bummed.
      Yeah info dumps tend to make books really tedious. :/

      • No read it Danya loved it so I bought it based on her review. I was heartbroken I didn’t love it and I’m pretty sure it was a case of it’s me not you with that book.

  • What a bummer! This is the reason why I’m always leery of a “X thing I love meets Y thing I love” comparison in a book blurb: the story almost never lives up to the comparison and it ends up being a letdown. While Jaewon sounds like an interesting character, I can’t read a story that only has one interesting character in it.