Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Rebel Seoul #1

Rebel Seoul

Rate this book
EAST ASIA, 2199. 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 academy's ranks. Abandoned as a child in the slums of Old Seoul by his rebel father, Jaewon desires only to escape his past. 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 Republic, or a rebel of the people. Pacific Rim meets Korean action dramas in this mind-blowing, New Visions Award-winning science fiction debut.

389 pages, Hardcover

First published September 14, 2017

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Axie Oh

9 books3,655 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
422 (29%)
4 stars
540 (38%)
3 stars
340 (24%)
2 stars
88 (6%)
1 star
18 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 323 reviews
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.7k followers
December 24, 2021
this is quintessential YA dystopian sci-fi. it has:
- a war torn world
- a ragtag team of teenagers
- humans with special abilities created as weapons
- innovative technology
- rebellion against the government
- and, of course, a forbidden romance
its all of the tried and true tropes for the genre. so if you love them, then this is the book for you.

and im also on a korean kick right now, so i absolutely loved the setting. yes, its dystopian, but AO has included many recognisable elements of present-day seoul.

definitely a fun start to a duology!

3.5 stars
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
260 reviews4,947 followers
June 7, 2020
Oh my gosh - more people need to be talking about this book. IT WAS SO GOOD! Easily one of the best releases this year. Warcross fans - where you at?!

Think of it like this. All the cool fast-paced futuristic/gamer vibes of Warcross but set in Seoul, South Korea. But don't dismiss this book if you aren't normally one for sci-fi or dystopian stories. There's something for everyone - I'm talking action, romance, friendships, drama, EMOTIONAL TRAUMA - and the story-telling is phenomenal (easy to follow and damn hard to put down).

"Love is a country. It's vast and endless and full of an unbreakable hope."

Jaewon is an ex-gang member trying for a better life by attending a university in the Neo State. After an intense recruitment simulation (holy shit - you aren't prepared for that, guys...), he's thrust into weapons-development alongside the Director's son, but things quickly go haywire. He meets Tera, a 'test subject' for the government - except she's so much more than she seems, and the Neo State isn't quite the honorable establishment he thought. And as Jaewon discovers secrets within secrets, his past comes drudging up, threatening to devour him.

"I want to show her that life isn't made of battles to be won. That life isn't about winning or losing, and that her existence doesn't need to be something she needs to deserve."

Jaewon had me rooting for him instantly. His voice in the novel was SO real, and he has a way of grounding you in the story from chapter one. I can't even pinpoint what exactly it is about him, though its partly thanks to how well he's developed, but I was right there with him, feeling everything he felt. But just wait - there's a whole pile of characters that will tug on your heartstrings just as much. GUYSSSS I was so emotional over everything, from Tera to Alex to Young. And AMA omg.

"There are so many people who need her. I'm just the one person who wants her."

Needless to say, I loved every minute.

I'm going to shove this book at everyone I know. If you haven't picked up this book, you're missing out on the best of 2017. You don't want to miss this.

My Blog ~ Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Etsy
Profile Image for Sue.
781 reviews1,590 followers
July 23, 2017
Love is a country. It’s vast and endless and full of an unbreakable hope. Maybe this love is a love that’s worth dying for, I don’t know. All I know is that it’s worth living for, again and again.

Rebel Seoul is a romantic dystopian novel set in futuristic South Korea where war wages in different states. This has been pegged as, "Pacific Rim meets Korean action drama." It's similar to Pacific Rim in a way, it's set in a world where war is their norm. Like Jaegars, they have invented a mankind developed weapons. Though, the similarities end there. It's more truthful to Korean drama.

The characters are fleshed out, you couldn't help but root for all of them. They're the heart of the story. There's a great buildup on their writing and camaraderie which is my most favorite thing. I love the tone of the novel. It's equally heartwarming, funny, and heartbreaking at the same time. Even though it can be gritty and dark, it's constructed very lightly. I love all of the characters and I hope they all get a book of their own at some point.

Of course, this review wouldn't end without me gushing about romance. There's not only one romance there are two. CATHCT THAT. It's both forbidden trope as well. *cries in despair* I want more of them especially the second top. This is why I need a sequel.

Overall: I love love Rebel Seoul. It contains everything I want in a book. There's found-family dynamics, fleshed out writing, romance. It's a perfect homage to my love for K-drama.
Profile Image for Janella Angeles.
Author 2 books879 followers
February 7, 2017
“K-drama meets Pacific Rim” is an all too awesome and accurate description for REBEL SEOUL—Axie Oh’s super anticipated sci-fi, which perfectly combines the adrenaline of an epic thrill ride with healthy amounts of heart, hurt, and at times, humor! She sets the scene in the militaristic, brutal Neo Seoul, a tech-driven, divided world that’s ruled by war against outside powers and the powerful forces within its very city. The compelling backdrop will leave you haunted just as much as the characters caged by its society, especially the jaded ex-gang member Lee Jaewon and Tera, his partner and modified warfront superhuman. No exaggeration, this book hit all of my sweet spots: a killer concept, fantastic world, nuanced characters, emphasis on family and friendship, writing that gives you chills, and a slow burn romance that leaves you wanting more.

At its heart, the story is about the wars we’ve fought and the ones we’re always fighting, the scars we gain and the ones we still feel long after the cut. Most importantly, it explores the depth of what makes us truly human, reminding us why that is such a treasure in itself and should not be taken for granted.

Long story short, I DEVOURED this pageturner, and I truly can’t wait for the world to do the same once it gloriously hits the shelves this fall!
Profile Image for Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer.
1,512 reviews5 followers
December 23, 2017
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

I've got to lead with the fact this is MY FAVORITE BOOK OF 2017 SO FAR!!

Set in a future war torn Korea, Lee Jaewon has scraped and clawed to become the best runner at the academy. In a world where your battle prowess determines your status his only desire is to escape his roots, as the abandoned son of a rebel and an ex-gang member. Recruited by a weapons development division after his high profile friend Alex handpicks him, Jaewon is shocked to meet Tera a girl he'd seen enjoying a concert. One of a pair of supersoilders she is a master combatist created to pilot the massive war robots called God Machines. As he becomes closer to his partner Jaewon will have to decide just what he believes in...

As a total fangirl of Korean dramas I was SOOOO excited to read this premise!! There is a definite lack of Korean protagonists and worlds with which to choose from so I had HIGH HOPES for this book!! And it DID NOT disappoint me!!

I enjoy dystopian worlds but I'm not a huge fan of the big robot war machines. I don't hate them but I'm not looking for stories about this topic... YET I LOVED them in this book!! Jaewon is a student as a war academy who explains in a very engaging way the world in which he finds himself after a rather rough childhood. What is now Korea has been embroiled in wars for many years now... and they are still fighting. The present day class system is still present but is all about where you fit in the war... the Old Seoul residents are the foot soldiers and cannon fodder while the Neo Seoul residents are the creme de la creme veterans and their families. Even the focus on family and a man's relationship with his father is explored at length and is SOO Korean.

It's not all info dumped in the beginning but is layered well amongst Jaewon's everyday movements. I think the world came alive so well for me because we got to see what Jaewon explained or rather he explained when he was in situations where explanation was needed! It made the information he shared very natural to the situation. I didn't feel like the author was preparing me for things that would be used later rather I felt Jaewon was my guide in this new and unknown world.

The use of native Korean words that the reader could learn easily in the way they were used really did a lot to add the flavor of Seoul. And the advanced society was very developed but NOT an in your face sort of way. Again whatever Jaewon interacted with we got the lowdown from his floating phone, to the simulation capsules, to the grid (i.e. streets of Neo Seoul) to the God Machines and the science of enhancement. It's not just the tech that was cool either, all the little Korean references like the notable pop star, the street stands, the director's tech savvy mansion and differences between Old and Neo Seoul. I didn't feel anything was off or didn't make sense. It all worked and felt genuine. I felt like I was in the future!!

I just really enjoyed the premise of this... it is totally centered on Jaewon and his experiences. I feel like Jaewon's story could have been anything and i would have enjoyed myself. He was a very engaging POV character and I really related to his life and all the different elements and moving parts it had: his father shamed him, his mother abandoned him and his relationship with his childhood friend wad not working. I just cared so much about Jaewon!

Tera, Ama, Alex, Young, Sela and Tsuko were all engaging as well... I cared for them too because Jaewon cared about them! The interactions between the characters were developed and each played a role in Jaewon's story.* Even the minor characters like Jaewon's two school friends were integral to his world. While Jaewon is a loner he wasn't alone. So many times a character is so obviously a character because they are all alone. Even when they have people in their lives those people are presented as flat and ONLY there to inform the MC. Not so with this cast!! All of the other secondary characters, ALL OF THEM had their own story arc that at one point or another came to bear on Jaewon's own story. Not in any contrived way but so naturally that it was the perfect mimicry of life!

Tera and forbidden romance! I'm not sure why forbidden romance is so seductive... probably we all want what we shouldn't have (chocolate anyone?!) I really liked Tera... I liked how her own situation was the biggest pressure on Jaewon as well as the biggest pleasure. I do wish that there were a couple more scenes with just Tera and Jaewon. While they do interact well and I loved when they were together there were about the same number of scenes with the other secondary characters... if they were falling in love I'd have liked to have seen them together MORE than with others. That said I really enjoyed how Jaewon was introduced to Tera and how he came to see her perspective! Isn't that why we love someone and how we know they love us!?

Alex and Young plus the bromance! Gah!! The friendship in this book!! Young is the childhood friend and Alex is the unexpected friend. When your life intersects with another's you can choose to ignore what you see or you can gain greater understanding of them! That forms friendship... This is shown so beautifully with Alex in a new friendship that started as a convenience for both of them. It is also explored in a more advanced friendship with Young who acted instead of expressing himself to his best friend. I JUST LOVED these relationships and I can't fault them for keeping their own space in Jaewon's life (and not giving it up to love interest Tera!!)

There is this whole other part of the story that is connected to Jaewon's personal back history as well as the back history of the world as a whole. It is used to great effect in the plot adding depth and breathe to the situations that Jaewon finds himself. I was quite affected at one point where Jaewon learns something of his father... it about broke my heart!! If because Tera is this bad ass super human you think this is going to be ALL action then you are mistaken!

This is a book that mimics life and so there is drama, history, routine, meetings AND action. It's balanced!! And the pacing is spot on. There was always something going on or something coming up and so I was anticipating events with this ebb and flow. Because everything was very naturally developed I wasn't suddenly surprised by anything. Unexpected things happened but it wasn't a sudden twist that was hidden very deliberately and manipulatively.

Okay, Okay if you insist that there has to be something that I don't like then I will have to say the cover! With all the pretty covers nowadays this one is very dull. Not that it doesn't sort of reflect Seoul I just feel like it could be SOOO much better! I do love the guy standing in the middle as if he is a God Machine. And I do LOVE the title of the book! It did suit the story quite well... So there you have it the one mar on an otherwise perfect record!

I'm going to have to say it... but I LOVED Rebel Seoul... it was BETTER than Warcross!! (Settle down I still really liked Warcross but this one is just better...) The end was everything with God Machines that I wanted! It was the completion of the subtle events that were forming around Tera and Ama and their weapons development department! And the people swirling around Jaewon all played their part. If you want to read something truly Korean which is exciting but also true to life then you've got to pick up Rebel Seoul!! Seriously I could read this again (and I NEVER say that!!)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Premise & World Building
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Development & Storycraft
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Writing & Narrative
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Plot & Pacing
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Relationships
⋆ ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Cover & Title
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Feelings

BOTTOM LINE: A Korea centered YA sci-fi war machines masterpiece!

Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

*The only thing that would have made this book even better is if there were multiple POVs... like Tera, Ama, and Young as well as Jaewon or alternatively Jaewon, with Alex, Young and Tsuko!! That would have been testosterone filled... Not that this being only Jaewon's story is bad but that we could have gotten a more complete view of the world with more than one POV character...

You can find this review and many others on my book blog @ Perspective of a Writer. See my special perspective at the bottom of my reviews under the typewriter...
Profile Image for ✨    jami   ✨.
681 reviews3,951 followers
September 17, 2017
"Maybe this love is a love that's worth dying for, I don't know. All I know is that it's worth living for, again and again

I was very excited to read Rebel Seoul, which was pitched as a blend of Pacific Rim and Korean Dramas. I've seen lots of hype for this book, especially from Korean reviewers and so I was very excited to get an arc of this book. Although I didn't love Rebel Seoul, I still liked it. I still really appreciate the ownvoices elements of the story and the setting. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to connect to the characters which effected my reading. 

My favourite thing about Rebel Seoul was definitely the setting. In this futuristic world, the Great War of the Pacific was fought between the East Asian nations, which eventually led to the creation of the Neo Council - a body which presides over all East Asian states and makes decisions on behalf of them. Following this unification, a war was waged between The East and The West, which was won by the East, solidifying the Neo-State. Now, a third war is being waged, between the Neo State, and rebels who seek to undermine and dismantle the regime. I loved the worldbuilding, and how the setting was described. The inclusion of other elements such as gangs, virtual reality simulations of military situations, and the God Machines also contributed to me really enjoying the setting. 

Rebel Seoul is also incredibly racially diverse. Every character who appears is of East Asian descent. The main character is of South Korean heritage, as are the majority of characters he interacts with. There is also one character who's explicitly said to be Japanese and one said to be Chinese. Unfortunately however, there was no lgbt+ representation, if anyone was wondering. 

I was incredibly engaged in the first 100 pages. The explanation of the world and how it unfolded was really interesting, there was some really cool action sequences, and the stakes were really high! I was really intrigued. 

Unfortunately, after the first 100 pages I began to run into some issues with characters and character development. The main character is quite well developed, but I found the side characters to be not nearly as developed. It was hard to grasp or understand the motivations of the majority of the characters. I felt that the female characters, who had great potential, were regaled to being love interests. The romance that appears was unconvincing to me, and since most of the romance happens off screen it was hard to grasp and believe the relationship. 

I found the middle of Rebel Seoul dragged quite a bit. The plot seemed to be put on hold while the characters interacted and ultimately I found myself really bored. I wasn't invested in the characters at all, and the way the plot developed left me confused. I wasn't sure which plot threat to follow. I think Rebel Seoul had issues in the middle with trying to be too many things at once.

 I was really glad the last 100 pages picked up a lot more. The action returned, and the book seemed to get black onto it's central plot. I only had one issue with the last one hundred pages, that the villain had the trope/motivation. I really hate this trope so I was a little disappointed when it cropped up. I was also a bit disappointed I guessed the plot twists well before the reveal. 

However, on a final positive note, I did think the ending/epilogue was great! The stories were well wrapped up and checked in with each character. I think that the conclusion was quite satisfying and that Axie Oh did a good job in gathering all the plot threads up and giving them a good ending. 

Personally, I was a little disappointed with Rebel Seoul. Although it didn't have any glaring issues, I personally just found it difficult to connect to the characters which impacted my reading. However, just going to the Goodreads page you can see I am very much in the minority with this review - most loved it! I've also seen a lot of hype from Korean reviewers about the representation.

 I wish I had loved this book, I really do, but I find it very difficult to love books if I don't love the characters. 

Overall, Rebel Seoul is an incredibly diverse book set in an amazing setting. The world of Neo-Seoul will suck you right in, and you'll find yourself loving being among the characters of this world. 

actual rating 3.5*

I was provided an arc of Rebel Seoul from the publisher. All opinions are my own. Thankyou to Tu Books!
Profile Image for Cindy.
Author 11 books1,096 followers
June 2, 2017
a delightful and action filled read! hard to choose
my favorite elements from REBEL SEOUL: Oh's great
world building or her wonderfully flawed characters
with their complicated relationships and dynamics. hoping
very much for sequel!
Profile Image for CW ✨.
669 reviews1,714 followers
December 28, 2017
Rebel Seoul has been pitched as k-drama meets Pacific Rim, but take that comparison with a bit of salt. Whilst this book certainly has elements of both, its vibe and narrative is something of its own.

- Most compelling of the book is Jaewon, the reluctant hero, solider, and MC of the story. There's something refreshing about an individual who is caught on both sides and doesn't 'embody' the war rhetoric of either side. -
- Moreover, Jaewon's reluctance lends the story an insightfulness rare in stories centered on war, in which he examines both side with a critical and discerning eye.
- The characters were interesting - perhaps not as developed as some may like, but their interesting characterisations and perspectives made them compelling characters.
- The dynamics between characters were excellent and so so interesting to read! Particularly loved the dynamics and kinships between Tera, Ama, and Tsuko, as well as Jaewon and Young.
- Explores trauma, family, loss, humanity, and one's purpose in life.

Trigger warnings:
Profile Image for Yodamom.
2,003 reviews196 followers
February 10, 2018
Fast paced, science fiction, future world, put the cost of war and humanity in question. Genetically engineered soldiers, scheming government, greedy gangs and school drama all play into this future world. The story follows a young man as he tries to overcome his backstory while finding a place in the future. He is betrayed, beaten, and has a past that could take it all from him if found out. A YA story, with fade to black sex scenes.
I really enjoyed this book. The author stayed true to her Korean roots, adding just enough language and culture to enrich the story's asian setting realistic. The food, Oh the food cart had my stomach grumbling for a bite. Ms. Oh's descriptions of the food so well done I could nearly smell the steam rising for the carts. She did equally well with her descriptions of the darker side, cringeworthy. She does add some Korean words into her story, she has a small dictionary in the back to help. I know many people don't like this but it really works for the story and learning a few common words is always a good thing. :D The book read as a stand alone but could easily be made into a series.
This is a very visual writer which works for this reader. I love it when reading is like watching a movie.
Profile Image for Amanda Foody.
Author 22 books2,661 followers
February 22, 2018
This book was the perfect blend of heart-pounding action and fully realized, endearing, amazing characters, all in the vividly described background of futuristic Seoul. A must-read addition to your YA sci-fi collection.
Profile Image for Nicole N. (A Myriad of Books).
915 reviews96 followers
November 15, 2017
Actual rating: 4.5 stars

What a wild and fun ride! While I wanted to devour this book in one sitting, I wasn’t able to, but I don’t really mind. I enjoyed it and savored it. It’s incredibly unique and unlike anything I’ve read in a long while.

First off, let me say that I am automatically a huge advocate of this book. This is written by a Korean author, and the setting of the book takes place in futuristic Korea. For me, reading this book felt like coming home. Not that I’ve ever been to South Korea, mind you, but it felt comforting all the same. There wasn’t any adapting or learning of particular cultural habits or traditions because I already knew. It was a really great feeling.

But besides that, the writing is so smooth and natural that progressing in this world with our main character, Lee Jaewon, was easy as well. The characters were well-developed, too, and as I continued to read, I was a bit conflicted with a few characters due to some revelations about their past. (But! I will tell you that I did not see that character twist toward the end…) The characters truly captivated me as there were such a wide range of them–from Alex, son of the Director and part of a chaebol family, to Sela the K-pop star, and then the lovable duo Bora and Minwoo.

"It's strange the way you love the people that hurt you the most."

We also see Jaewon trying to reconcile his past and his present, his father’s actions with his own, dealing with his childhood best friend and confronting his mother. I definitely liked both Ama and Tera. We actually saw some vulnerability with General Tsuko, whose only 15! But it wasn’t enough to make me feel for the character in particular. As for the building of the romantic relationships between Alex and Ama and Jaewon and Tera… It felt lacking. I liked how the two boys wanted to make the girls feel as normal as possible in spite of the circumstances of the girls’ purpose, but I didn’t really feel anything. This is definitely why a half star was knocked off.

"I can't differentiate how one life is worth less than a thousand. Or how a thousand lives are worth less than a million. All I know is what your life was worth to me, and to me, your life was worth the world."

Now as for the descriptions of Old Seoul and Neo Seoul, along with the Dome and the God Machines (GMs), and giving the history of the country–I definitely loved every bit of that. At first, I thought I would become confused, but Oh does a great job explaining this and giving us small bits of information as the story progresses. We’re left with a little bit of hope in the end, too, in more ways than one for Jaewon and the state of Neo Seoul.

Rebel Seoul is an amazing debut for Axie Oh, and I’ll be on the look out for whatever else she writes in the future, especially if its anything like this first book.
Profile Image for Aila.
911 reviews32 followers
July 5, 2017
“Only countries destroy other countries. Only selfishness breeds selfish actions. Without nationhood, there is no war. Without nationhood, there is only peace. Unity in all things; humanity above monstrous division.”

Step into a dazzling, yet conflicting world where war propaganda runs rampant, and the Eastern Asian countries have come together to form a Neo Alliance that may do more harm than not. From the first person perspective of Jaewon, an ex-gang member from Old Seoul that’s torn between two sides of a war, Rebel Seoul is exhilarating, empathetic, and made me feel all the emotions. Set in a futuristic Korea, this book is what you would get if you made elements of Pacific Rim into a Korean drama. You have heartbreak and heartache, the camaraderie between friends and family, and romance that’ll make your heart sing. At the same time, there’s heart-stopping action and robots set for war. And let me tell you – it makes the best combination.

Full review to come!

I wrote the review while listening to the playlist created by Axie Oh, found over here on her website!

4.5 stars
Profile Image for Ava.
266 reviews311 followers
August 14, 2017
This book is brilliant and Axie is brilliant and EVERYTHING ABOUT IT IS BRILLIANT.

REBEL SEOUL is the story of Lee Jaewon, an ex-gang member, set in futuristic, war-torn Seoul, with a wonderful cast of side characters and A+ explorations of friendship, romance, and family.

I can't recommend it enough.
Profile Image for sil ♡ the book voyagers.
1,123 reviews2,822 followers
May 10, 2017
Rebel Seoul is Pacific Rim meets Kdramas. It has action, big robots, human weapons, gangs, deceit and secrets, a dystopian Seoul + setting, and a main character who is amazing and Soft and strong and confused and has so many things inside.

I already sobbed with Axie about all my favorite scenes and my favorite characters. The best thing about this book is the characters and they drive this story. Lee Jaewon, Alex, Ama, Tera, Young, Sela ~ everyone is so epic and iconic and contribute in this book. The dynamics are A+ so expect lots of shipping and bromances and found families.

Review closer to release day.
Profile Image for Meg.
35 reviews
January 22, 2018
Very excited for Kiss Kiss Robot Robot

UPDATE: Very impressed with Kiss Kiss Robot Robot and HIGHLY recommend. Axie is a wizard with words.
Profile Image for Ashley Marie .
1,300 reviews394 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
February 8, 2023
Reminding myself that it's okay to DNF this because a) I don't have to like everything and b) I'm not the target audience. I just didn't feel connected to the characters and what was going on. Still disappointed because it's been on my TBR for years, but onward.
Profile Image for Simi Sunny.
Author 4 books75 followers
December 27, 2018
At last, I've completed the book! It took me a while since I had been busy with stuff, but I managed to read the whole book. My mind was blown away about the plot, it's nothing that I expected after reading the synopsis.

At least there some action and little less drama, which I love the most. I would definitely recommend a book to someone who is more into action than drama, even if there's a hint of it.

The purpose of the book is to fight want you want for, even if it means for the sake of the one you love. I was happy of the end result. There were also political messages in there, which I will let others who want to read the book find out for themselves.

I cannot wait for the next book, if the author plan on releasing it soon. ^^
Profile Image for Rosalyn Eves.
Author 9 books665 followers
November 16, 2017
This was such a fun YA sci-fi world, both beautiful and brutal. After an orphaned childhood, Lee Jaewon has finally hit his stride in an elite military school, where he's being groomed for a high-level military position in the war against Korean nationalists. But when he's given the task of guarding a young woman, Tera, who's an elite weapon for the military, he begins to reimagine the future he's already seen for himself. I'll admit that sci-fi is not always my first genre, but Oh does such a great job making the world believable and filling her world with interesting characters and relationships. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
Profile Image for Kris Mauna.
518 reviews48 followers
September 14, 2017
My love for this book is real and I will never stop recommending it to everyone.

*This review will just be all my random thoughts +fangirling so if you'd like to read a more well written review then refer to my post on Bookstacked here !!!*

"Sleep," she says, "and when you wake, everything will be better. I promise."
I frown. How can she promise something like that?
"It's a promise to myself," Ama whispers. "That one day, he'll wake to a world better than the one he fell asleep in."

Pegged as, "Pacific Rim meets Korean action drama," is the perfect description. Axie Oh will completely pull you into this harsh world and these magnificent characters, and probably break your heart but also fill it up with a lot of hope. Seriously, there is SO much to love.. All the action, politics, romance, robots, EVERYTHING - but the heart of this story lies within its characters so let's talk about them.

"I want the light on my face in the morning to be just that - light, not a cold reminder that I'm awake. I want this ache inside me to leave, the one that says I'm alone, and that I always will be." - Jaewon
I absolutely loved Jaewon. The thing with these characters is that there are so many layers that make them who they are.. And he has such a heartbreaking past. I felt his loneliness, all the pain and sorrow he carried around with him, and I just wanted a happy ending for him. He's sensitive and caring, but strong and brave - I loved seeing his openly vulnerable side which is something I wish we saw more of in male heroes.

"They tell me I'm a weapon, that I'm built for a great purpose, but I don't know how to be anything but myself." - Tera
Why I loved Tera is not the fact that she's a major badass because she is.. It was how much hope she had even when she "said" things that made you think otherwise. I mean she wouldn't keep waking up or choosing to live if she didn't have hope and I think that's something she didn't fully realize at first, so that was interesting to read. But I loved her.

"Did you hear them?" Ama whispers. "They called me a monster."
"If you're a monster," Tera says slowly, "then I'll be a monster too."
- Ama

AMA! I felt like her character was the breath of fresh air that some situations needed at the time. Her friendship with Tera was everything - I'm all about positive girl friendships in YA novels and I was so happy to see that representation here! Also after witnessing Ama's powers.. I'm not sure if I would like the weight of that power on my own shoulders so she's pretty awesome for living the life she does.

"With one mistake - one choice - he's abandoned all his goals. I wouldn't call them dreams. Alex doesn't hope for things, live or die for things." - Alex
And last but CERTAINLY not least.. My favorite out of the core group - ALEX! My precious child that needs to be protected now and forever. Seriously.. When you get to Chapter 35 your heart may or may not (it will) break! I can't tell you why.. But I will say that I cried (real tears).. He's so complex and interesting. His bromance with Jaewon is EVERYTHING. Ugh - ILOVEHIMSOMUCH. *coughs please give us a Alex book coughs*

Okay seriously I highly recommend this book to ALL OF YOU.
I mean.. Look at this beautiful quote - "Love is a country. It's vast and endless and full of an unbreakable hope." - I CAN NOT STRESS ENOUGH HOW GREAT THIS BOOK IS!
Please read and enjoy with me. <3

* Quotes listed above are subject to change.
Profile Image for Мария.
97 reviews48 followers
August 6, 2023
В свят изпълнен с иновативни технологии, политически и идеологически сблъсъци всеки се бори за оцеляване.
Динамична янг адълт дистопия с елементи на sci-fi.
Profile Image for J.
33 reviews44 followers
December 24, 2017

Okay, I'm back and I've stopped sobbing.

This is one of my favorite books of 2017! I'm an avid Young Adult and Science Fiction reader and I'd say a handful of books have checked off all my boxes for a great story. Rebel Seoul just joined those books. It's a book that has the world building, technology, and bad-ass action scenes that everyone seeks in a Science fiction, but it also has layered and meaningful relationships, character development, and fan service to boot! Let me get more into what I mean by all this:

World Building: Futuristic Militarized and unified East Asian Region. It's largely based on Korean culture and set in the futuristic version of South Korea's capital city, Seoul. But it layers such a good understanding of the history of the East Asian region as a whole. How the cultures have influenced each other over the centuries and how that influence has created multi-dimensional relations and concepts of nationhood. At the end of the day, one of the greatest driving themes of Rebel Seoul is how far one is willing to go to fight for their nation (or their ideal of a nation).

Relationships and Characters: Perhaps not everyone coming here has watched anime or Korean dramas. And that's totally fine. But as an avid fan of both, I can say that they always delve very deeply into all types of relationships and human interactions. The best and most successful animes and K-dramas tend to take the simplest things, like a hand brushing another and drawing it out so we see how it affects everyone involved. In Rebel Seoul these small moments are explored just as poignantly. They build and build until a character that shows up for a mere page has left an impact on both the Main Character and the reader (I'll point you to the amazing cab driver scene in the opening). This is what stays with you when you finish reading Rebel Seoul. Those human moments where our main character, Jaewon, struggles with who he is. And how his choice can affect all of those around him in a ripple effect.

Fan service: I mentioned Anime and K-Dramas above and this is also where the fan service comes in. As an avid fan, there were scenes that were pulled from these inspirations. The dating scene, the food stall scene, the bridge scene, the concert scene. They were all pulling me back to when I was younger watching Gundam Wing or Cowboy Bebop. It was like easter egg after easter egg of amazing moments that made me both nostalgic for the past and excited to read on! Plus, I can totally see how the kick-butt girl fighters were inspired by anime like Sailor Moon's magical girls.

All in all, a book that has something for everyone. I honestly don't have space to write everything I loved, but here's a list of stuff I didn't touch on yet:
- Awesome robots
- simulated training/fight scene
- political intrigue
- street gangs and revolution fighters
- Amazing and quirky best friends
- Smoldering boy characters with attitude and snark
- romance
- bromance
Profile Image for Yuna.
503 reviews2 followers
May 5, 2018
Solid debut. I liked the tech in this a lot. Interesting worldbuilding. Wish we'd gotten to know Ama and Tera more, because the bit we did get to see was interesting and engaging but because this is Jaewon's story they stay fairly secondary.

I appreciate how unapologetically Korean this book is. There is a glossary in the back, but a lot of the Korean isn't explained/translated on the page. It isn't italicized. The theme of fighting for a unified Korea, and glimpse of culture we get through Bora/Minwoo and the shopping spree with Ama and Tera and following Jaewon around the city and the kpop--it read to me a bit like slice of life. It reads like it's written for a specific audience, which isn't to say that non-Koreans or people who don't follow k-culture won't find things to enjoy and engage with in the book. More that it was written for a target audience first. Some people may not like that.

The pacing was off for me. Things didn't really get going until Jaewon and Alex get involved with the Amaterasu project. Jaewon's backstory wasn't measured out in a way that resonated for me--needed more up front to build on because when it starts coming out toward the end it felt like it was thrown at me and stuff that clearly mattered to the character didn't have any foundation for me.

I know it's written from a guy's POV, but Jaewon bugged me a lot. He came across as having male superiority/mansplainy/entitlement issues. Like he's entitled to Tera's attention, and he's the one to explain to her why she can be what she wants--disregarding the reasoning behind her pragmatism. He literally tells her he doesn't like what she's saying, and then he mansplains at her. There were a few times where he refers to wanting her in a way that read as too objectifying--it wasn't an intimate moment between the two characters, but him thinking about things--things--he wants. Ama and Tera have agency, and yet a lot of the time it was motivated to boost the guys in the story.
Profile Image for K..
3,796 reviews1,022 followers
November 22, 2017
Trigger warnings: violence, explosions, domestic violence, blood.

This...was not what I expected. I kept seeing reviews comparing this to Pacific Rim (which I LOVE), and the blurb sounded like it was Jaeger-central. So I was totally sold on the concept, and the setting was GREAT.

But. I wanted more from this. There wasn't enough worldbuilding, for starters. I mean, we're told that the world is at peace now that countries are united, but they're also at war enough to need God Machines?? We're told that there's old Seoul and new Seoul and a dome appears over new Seoul every night, but we're not really told WHY. Etcetera.

And really, for a 400 page book involving God Machines? We saw the God Machines twice, once near the beginning and once at the end. There were occasional mentions of them in between, but that was all. Which, :(

Add in the fact that the only character with any real depth was the protagonist and the fact that the middle draaaaaaaaaagged and this came out at sadly mediocre for me. Sigh. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and watch Pacific Rim again because IT IS A DELIGHT.
Profile Image for J. Nicole.
171 reviews16 followers
October 13, 2017
Rebel Seoul is absolutely amazing. Couldn't put it down. Well, I had to put it down a couple of times but I guarantee it was very reluctantly and put me in a bad mood. The pacing is delicious, the characters are intriguing and the writing is beautiful.

I wish I actually had more to say but at the moment I'm just thinking about how much I enjoyed it, and I can only say "it's awesome, buy it" in so many ways.
Profile Image for Jessica Woodbury.
1,639 reviews2,156 followers
September 30, 2017
This was a 4-star read until the last third or so, when it lost the momentum and narrative thread. But I enjoyed it quite a bit, especially the centerpiece of the first act, a student wargame that is very exciting and does great worldbuilding at the same time.

There's a bit too much cliche here, too much that feels familiar and overdone (protagonist's history, Alex the son of a commander, people used as weapons), but that is mostly the character and not as much the plot. The world of New Seoul is the strongest part of the book.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 323 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.