I have an inane love for a good fairytale re-telling or an interesting twist on classic lore/mythology, Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles and Rick Riordan for Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus being my top favourites.
While I am not a big fan of zombies, I appreciate Issac Marion’s (Warm Bodies) and Chris Roberson’s (iZombie) unique interpretation of the franchise. Amy Tintera is another such individual who took the basics behind the trope and fashioned a complex (albeit convenient) YA dystopian out of it with her debut Reboot and its sequel Rebel.
Summary (courtesy of Goodreads.com)
Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).
Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.
The perfect soldier is done taking orders.
While it would be easy to focus on politics and freedom-fighting in a post zombie and/or robot apocalyptic dystopian novel, Tintera manages to dig deeper and question the readers’ perspectives on humanity. Is it black and white? Or shades of grey? Or a rainbow? She expertly weaves these existential queries/suggestions within a pulse-pounding, syrupy-sweet and appropriately gory narrative.
Wren is a beautifully crafted protagonist, conflicted and complex, each of her inner struggles palpable because Tintera qualifies her thoughts so well. Her character develops throughout the duology as opposed to a single isolated burst of clarity, something I found realistic. She questions and re-questions things using various points of reference. I loved her thorough thought process. I adored her relationship with Callum, Ever, Addie, Riley and even the antagonist equally because the interactions were engaging and revealed layers of her.
Callum, freaked me out for the most part of Reboot. He is the best version of a human (and a Reboot) possible, so insufferably pure of heart that he can pick up and swing Mjölnir like it’s no Asgardian’s business. It was weird yet refreshing to read about such an optimistic male lead with a conscience as stubborn as they come. I think YA fiction is so overpopulated by brooding, tall, dark and scary men of action, that someone like Callum is immediately disconcerting. The first impression of him is that of someone weak, soft and annoying but you eventually come to respect him for his convictions. I started off with shaking my head at his antics and later realised I started to smile while doing it, so he definitely grows on you.
I appreciated that Tintera wrote Rebel from both Callum’s and Wren’s perspectives because I finally got to understand Callum and genuinely like him. Also, his character development throughout Rebel, though not as gradual as Wren’s, was shocking and exciting. I believe if The Hunger Games ever got written from Peeta’s perspective, he would sound a bit like Callum.
Wren and Callum were very different people and I loved that their individualism was maintained throughout the two books even as they changed into better versions of themselves. Their relationship was built on understanding as opposed to blind compromise which I found quite endearing.
The Bad and the Ugly
I honestly, cannot identify anything significantly unlikable about this duology. Some portions of the plot were rather convenient for my liking and I would not have minded Tintera making me sweat while she resolved it, but in hindsight my overall enjoyment of the books outweighs that little hitch.
In summary, Reboot and Rebel were quick, thrilling reads and I needless to say I will be eagerly looking forward to more great reads from Amy Tintera.