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The Rebellious Tide

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Sebastien’s search for his father leads him to a ship harbouring a dangerous secret.

Sebastien has heard only stories about his father, a mysterious sailor who abandoned his pregnant mother thirty years ago. But when his mother dies after a lifetime of struggle, he becomes obsessed with finding an explanation — perhaps even revenge.

The father he’s never met is Kostas, the commanding officer of a luxury liner sailing the Mediterranean. Posing as a member of the ship’s crew, Sebastien stalks his unwitting father in search of answers as to why he disappeared so many years ago.

After a public assault triggers outrage among the ship’s crew, Sebastien finds himself entangled in a revolt against the oppressive ruling class of officers. As the clash escalates between the powerful and the powerless, Sebastien uncovers something his father has hidden deep within the belly of the ship — a disturbing secret that will force him to confront everything he’s always wondered and feared about his own identity.

344 pages, Paperback

First published July 13, 2021

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About the author

Eddy Boudel Tan

3 books79 followers
Eddy Boudel Tan is the author of two novels: After Elias, a finalist for the ReLit Awards and the Edmund White Award, and The Rebellious Tide, a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley Award. In 2021, he was named a Rising Star by the Writers’ Trust of Canada. He writes stories that depict a world much like our own—the heroes are flawed, truth is distorted, and there is as much hope as there is heartbreak. His short stories can be found in Joyland, Yolk, Gertrude Press, and The G&LR, as well as two forthcoming anthologies. He lives in Vancouver with his husband. Follow Eddy on Twitter (@eddyautomatic) and at eddyboudeltan.com.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 49 reviews
Profile Image for luce (tired and a little on edge).
1,417 reviews3,389 followers
August 28, 2021
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2 ½ stars

This is one of those rare cases where I genuinely feel bad for not liking a book. The more I read The Rebellious Tide, the less I liked it. Yet, I really tried to pretend otherwise. Having loved Eddy Boudel Tan's debut novel (it moved me to tears, something that does not happen often to grinches like moi) I had high expectations for his sophomore novel and I can't help but be disappointment by it. If you are thinking of reading this novel I recommend you check out some positive reviews out as this review won't be particularly 'rosy'.

The Rebellious Tide follows Sebastien, a young man who is grieving the death of his mother. He resents his hometown as he believes that the townspeople have always treated him and his mother like outsiders (his mother was originally from Singapore). We learn of his on-off again relationship with Sophie and of his hatred towards his father, a Greek man who allegedly abandoned his mother when she was pregnant with Sebastien. So, naturally, Sebastien decides to take revenge on his father. Lucky for him, he manages to get himself hired as a photographer on a luxury cruise ship monstrosity (as a former Venetian I abhor cruises) which happens to captained by his father. He makes fast friends with two other members of staff and decides to make inquiries about his father, wanting to learn what kind of person he is. Soon Sebastien realises how rigid the hierarchy among staff members is, and his resentment towards his father makes him start a 'rebellion'.
There were elements of the story that I liked, such as the cruise as microcosm of society. The 'confined' setting augmented the already brewing tension between the ship's crew and the staff (who are deemed 'inferior' or 'expandable'). But...I just could not believe in any of it. I couldn't suspend my sense of disbelief, and I never bought into any of it. The characters were painfully one-dimensional, the female ones especially, and yet the storyline tried for this serious tone which...I don't know, it just didn't work for me. As I said, I wanted to like this so bad but the more I read the less I liked what I was reading. The story is very on the nose. The 'Greek myth' connection was jarring and out-of-place. While I could have bought the whole 'lower decks=Hades', 'passageway in the lower decks=Styx', okay...we get it, lots of Greeks work on this ship. But the whole thing between Sebastien and his supposed 'love interest' where they call each other Achilles and Patroclus? Come on! The two men barely know each other, their relationship struck me (and yes, this is once again my personal opinion) as just sexual. And there is nothing wrong with that! But why present it as a tragic love story? Bah!
The characters did not sound like real people, the dialogues were clunky, and the writing...I don't know, I guess I preferred the author's prose in After Elliot because it was in the 1st person (making the whole thing much more 'intimate') whereas here we have a perspective that is all over the place and yet it doesn't really delve beyond a character's surface level.
And the whole storyline is so damn cheesy and gave me some strong soap opera vibes. Convenient coincidences and clichés abound! And don't get me started on Sebastien's father (and that done to death line, "you remind me of myself when I was your age").

As I said (or wrote) I do hate myself a little bit for not liking this novel. While I am of the opinion that this novel is in desperate need of an overhaul, I hope that it will find its audience and that readers will connect to Sebastien in a way that I was not able to.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Marieke (mariekes_mesmerizing_books).
438 reviews249 followers
December 19, 2020
After his stunning debut ‘After Elias’ Eddy Boudel Tan delivers another powerful novel covering themes like suppression, dominating (white) men, homophobia and being good or bad and all the grey in between. His writing reminds me sometimes of Fredrik Backman’s Beartown, so if you liked that one, you might like this one too.

Eddy Boudel Tan’s writing is rich and captivating once again; the descriptions, the characters, the surroundings, they are all so vibrant. This kind of writing keeps me hooked to the pages:
Emotion is like water. Some people keep it in a well, drawing from it by the bucket. Others put it behind a dam. But you - you are an ocean.

The dominating (white) men are visible throughout the story and I loved how Eddy Boudel Tan describes men time after time:
It’s not enough for men to take something away from another. They must make it their own. Brand it for themselves. Leave their mark.

They were simply men - imperfect, impulsive, helpless men. That didn’t mean they deserved to be pardoned, though.

The first half of the book we’re immersed into Sebastien’s life and his friends on the ship, his understanding of the different classes on the Glacier and injustice done to others. The second half of the book slowly reveals more of the darker secrets the Glacier harbors. I love the way Eddy Boudel Tan throws snippets around, like he also did in ‘After Elias’, connecting the dots later in the story and revealing more and more of the past and the present.

While Sebastien is on the ship incognito to get to know his father, other characters fled their homes because of mistreatment or homophobia, hoping to find refuge on the Glacier. It turned out otherwise though, life on the ship being so much darker and uglier than they could have known in advance. In ‘After Elias’ the author made references to the Mayan culture, in this book to Greek mythology. In both books those references and metaphors are spot-on.

Whereas ‘After Elias’ was sad and tender and intimate, ‘The rebellious tide’ is powerful and dark and more distant. ‘After Elias’ will always have a special place in my heart and is one of my favorite books of 2020 but ‘The rebellious tide’ is a great second novel by a talented writer.

4.5 stars rounded up to five.

I received an ARC from Dundurn Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Marieke (mariekes_mesmerizing_books).
438 reviews249 followers
December 13, 2020
After his stunning debut ‘After Elias’ Eddy Boudel Tan delivers another powerful novel covering themes like suppression, dominating (white) men, homophobia and being good or bad, black or white and all the grey in between. His writing reminds me sometimes of Fredrik Backman’s Beartown, so if you liked that one, you might like this one too.

Eddy Boudel Tan’s writing is rich and captivating once again; the descriptions, the characters, the surroundings, they are all so vibrant. This kind of writing makes me want to read on and on without stopping.
Emotion is like water. Some people keep it in a well, drawing from it by the bucket. Others put it behind a dam. But you - you are an ocean.

The dominating (white) men are visible throughout the story and I loved how Eddy Boudel Tan describes men time after time:
It’s not enough for men to take something away from another. They must make it their own. Brand it for themselves. Leave their mark.

They were simply men - imperfect, impulsive, helpless men. That didn’t mean they deserved to be pardoned, though.

The first half of the book we’re immersed into Sebastien’s life and his friends on the ship, his understanding of the different classes on the Glacier and injustice done to others. The second half of the book slowly reveals more of the darker secrets the Glacier harbors. I love the way Eddy Boudel Tan throws snippets around, like he also did in ‘After Elias’, connecting the dots later in the story and revealing more and more of the past and the present.

While Sebastien is on the ship incognito to get to know his father, other characters fled their homes because of mistreatment or homophobia, hoping to find refuge on the Glacier. It turned out otherwise though, life on the ship being so much darker and uglier than they could have known in advance. In ‘After Elias’ the author made references to the Mayan culture, in this book to Greek mythology. In both books those references and metaphors are spot-on.

Whereas ‘After Elias’ was sad and tender and intimate, ‘The rebellious tide’ is powerful and dark and more distant. ‘After Elias’ will always have a special place in my heart and is one of my favorite books of 2020 but ‘The rebellious tide’ is a great second novel by a talented writer.

4.5 stars rounded up to five.

I received an ARC from Dundurn Press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Tina.
595 reviews76 followers
July 8, 2021
THE REBELLIOUS TIDE by Eddy Boudel Tan is an engrossing novel! This was one of my most anticipated books this year as Eddy’s debut novel, After Elias, was my fave fiction read last year and this is another great book! I found myself completely absorbed into this story and finished the book in two days. It’s about Sebastian, who goes to work on a luxury liner to meet his father that he’s never met before and while aboard he encounters a disturbing secret.
I loved the characterization of Sebastian as he’s half Singaporean half Greek, queer and the intense pull he had to discover his heritage. I am mixed race so I love to see it represented in literature. The setting of the sea was stunning as we travel along the Mediterranean. I also loved the initial setting in Quebec as I’m Canadian. The mystery element really propelled me to keep reading. Definitely pick up this novel if you want to go on an adventure!
Thank you so much to the author for my gifted copy!
Profile Image for Llakshmi.
348 reviews208 followers
March 16, 2021
“The dancers are a lot of fun, but they’re full of drama,” “They also survive on a diet of vodka and avocado”

Plot. We basically follow Sebastian in his quest to find his father after his mother passed away and so he comes aboard a luxury ship in which his father works. But as he spends more time on board, he finds more secrets and lies about the man who gave birth to him and we follow his journey as he finds out about the real man with the help of Nikos.

I gotta say that there were some moments that I thought were unnecessary. Almost as though Sebastian got himself into messes that didn’t involve him. And there were moments that I felt were a little bit of a stretch.

The storyline was a little too rushed and so was the romance between Sebastian and Nikos.

Imma give it 3/5 stars. I just think the author had good ideas but didn’t execute them as well as they could’ve.
Profile Image for Dana.
665 reviews9 followers
November 19, 2021
This book is quite the journey! The reader is taken on a Mediterranean Sea voyage...

Sebastien, a half Greek half Singaporean man has recently lost his mother. Struggling with the emotions of navigating life without her and not really knowing what's next, Sebastien makes the decision to find his father, a mysterious sailor. A man he's never met, and one he already knows he holds deep hatred for. Thirty years ago his father abandoned his mother who at that time was pregnant with Sebastien.

I really enjoyed The Rebellious Tide. The writing was great and the story was interesting. I thought the main protagonist was excellent and the supporting cast was also really well written.

Thanks so much to Dundurn Press for my gifted copy!
Profile Image for Caleb.
284 reviews28 followers
January 4, 2021
Within Boudel Tan's sophomore novel is quite the thrilling story. Unfortunately, the way said story is told (i.e., like a screenplay with most of the blocking already on the page) detracts from what could have been a much more compelling read. This novel falls victim to the sin of telling, not showing. Characters are said to be this or that, but neither this nor that will ever be examined with any depth. The reader is just expected to accept this as a truth. Action happens off camera and motivations are revealed post-hoc. Thus, this novel unfolds like an autopsy, not a compelling read.

This becomes all the more complicated due to the author's choice to omnisciently jump from POV character to POV character: sometimes in the same paragraph. This is a confusing choice for a thriller, especially when some of those heads are those of the villains once the masks are removed.

This compounds over the narrative to undermine the interesting story at the heart of this novel. Ultimately, what could have been powerful third act twists instead cause the reader to scratch their head, wondering why the narrator's omniscience decided to hide all of this pertinent information and motivation from them until after said information was important.

Finally, this novel hosts a top-tier example of why instalove is a trope best left in the Noughties. A simple sexual relationship was forced into a cloying (and heavy-handed) love story for no discernible reason other than a throw-away line at the denouement.

Overall, an interesting story that could have used some more editing in its early stages. Two stars.

***Note: I received an ARC of this novel from Dundurn Press and Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.***
Profile Image for  Gabriele | QueerBookdom .
274 reviews145 followers
August 12, 2021
DRC provided by Dundurn Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Representation: queer Singaporean-Greek protagonist, gay Ukrainian secondary character, Indian secondary character, queer Greek secondary character, Greek secondary and tertiary characters, Singaporean tertiary character, Filipino tertiary characters.

Content Warning: death, racism, classism, slurs, violence, mentions of sexual harassment, mentions of physical abuse, homophobia, mentions of hate crime, mentions of torture, sex-negativism, human trafficking, violence.

The Rebellious Tide is Eddy Boudel Tan’s sophomore compelling literary endeavour, a story about found families, anger, love, justice and introspection.

Sebastien Goh, after years of observation from afar, decides to leave his hometown to go meet the father who abandoned him and his mother in Canada years before, and to look for answers. His journey towards the truth will unveil more than he thinks.

This novel was heavy and raw and angering and inspiring and reflective. I loved the author’s writing style, although I found it hard sometimes to understand whose point-of-view I was reading from. Nonetheless, Eddy Boudel Tan has an amazing voice and I am looking forward to get my hands on his debut After Elias, so that I can revel again in his words.

I really liked Sebastien’s internal development and the array of fully fleshed-out secondary and tertiary characters (my eternal love to Ilya and Diya and Rosa).

The Rebellious Tide is definitely deserving of a read!
Profile Image for Kirsten.
91 reviews8 followers
January 18, 2021
First I want to thank Netgalley and Dundurn Press for giving me the opportunity to review this ARC.
I went blind into this book. I mean, I knew what it was about, but not what to expect. The storyline really was excellent. It was a well-invented story, with interesting twists and turns. I am a sucker for Greek mythology so the way this was waved into the story was so interesting and even satisfying.
It was a quick-moving story, something I wasn't sure about at first, but it turned out to be great. The development of the story was great. I needed the first 70 pages though to really get into it.
It was interesting to see Sebastien's relationship with his mother, and his home town, through these flashbacks. They were really captivating and gave me really a sense of knowing Sebastien. It made me feel like I have known him and his mother forever.
The characters in this book were immaculate. They all had their own interesting, and heartbreaking backstories. I loved how they all stood up for Dominic, the friendship between Sebastien, Ilya, and Diya. But what I loved the most was the relationship between Sebastien and Nikos. So, I have to admit, the plot twist really hurt my feelings.

And here a quote of my favorite part:
"My dear Achilles. You were mistaken this entire time. I was never your Patroclus. I was the arrow."
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Novels and Nummies.
81 reviews1 follower
December 23, 2020

***Special thanks to NetGalley and Dundurn Press for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review***

This book is about Sebastien as a tries to track down his father after he had left Sebastien and his mother (it had been over 30 years). Sebastien becomes obsessed with finding his father and is filled with strong emotions, especially after his mother dies, suffering from years of hardship. This dark novel follows Sebastien as he stalks his father in his own workplace and Sebastien's eventual recognition of life-changing secrets.

I would recommend this novel, it was highly entertaining and left me at the edge of my seat
Profile Image for Kacie Faith.
125 reviews21 followers
January 17, 2021
The first thing that sold me onThe Rebellious Tide (and remains my favorite part of the whole story) is the main character, Sebastien. From the git-go, Sebastien's character is conveyed with sharp passion and dynamism--he's kind and charming, but conceals a level of darkness and fury that gives his character both an irreplaceable complexity and a keen sense of humanity. As the book develops, the reader is drawn deeper and deeper into Sebastien's character--as if the very "rebellious tide" within Sebastien is gradually rising. The reader finds themself transfixed by his ardency, his courage, his desires, and his ever-shifting, dichotomous sense of self. Likewise, Sebastien is flanked by a cast of characters who are all self contradictory (as real people are) and complex, with well fleshed out backstories.

The Rebellious Tide is also very strong in plot--there is a genuine sense of mystery, suspense, and danger. I wanted so badly to know what secrets were being kept on the luxury liner where Sebastien works, as well as what would ultimately happen between him and his father. Sebastien is a very active character and drives the plot with the same passion that fills this entire story. Yet, his flawed decision making and darkness also add another level of tenseness to the plot--unlike a simple, commercial mystery (i.e. a whodunnit or "What's gonna happen?") this story is far more realistic. The characters are permanently faced with difficult decisions and sacrifices; they must decide how much to sacrifice to find out the truth, whether or not to ignore the ugly truths they find, and--perhaps most of all--if they can face the truth of themselves.

Another thing that impressed me about The Rebellious Tide were the devices Tan utilized. This story is told in occasional flashbacks and multiple points of view; both of these are very easy to do very bad. When poorly done, they can completely ruin a story, distract the reader, or just fall flat. But Tan utilized both expertly--especially the flashbacks. This book has a rhythm to it, again mirroring the sea. The reader is gradually submerged and drawn deeper into the mystery, the characters, and the darkness beneath the surface. The flashbacks are employed to create this effect, revealing "secrets" to the reader about Sebastien and his past while the dark secrets in the present day (on the ship) are revealed. This deepens both the characterization and the emotion in the book, heightening everything as the story nears its climax. The Rebellious Tide is also told from a semi-omniscient point of view (i.e. third-person and not limited to one character), which--to be completely honest--I usually hate. Since characterization is my favorite part of every story, I generally prefer an intimate first person point of view, like in Song of Achilles. Yet, in The Rebellious Tide, the third-person point of view only intensifies the sense of secrets and mystery. In conjunction with the flashbacks, this device ultimately makes the story more dynamic, cohesive, and hard-hitting.

I also loved the setting of The Rebellious Tide. As I said before, I'm a sucker for ships and the sea--and also for Greek and Mediterranean settings. But you can't deny that the claustrophobic opulence of a luxury liner adds something special to a novel, and gives it a distinct aesthetic.

The Rebellious Tide also conveyed a moral grayness that I greatly appreciated, and which ultimately allowed the book to pull off its theme of "fighting for the oppressed" with grace. Tan conveyed even the "bad guys" in this book with complexity and depth, and this realistic complexity was one of the things I loved most about this book. It adds a sense of realism to the "fighting for the oppressed" theme, which otherwise could be a bit on-the-nose. There were moments in this book that genuinely gave me cold chills, and felt incredibly powerful. I think the main reason this book is able to utilize this theme ("fighting for the oppressed"/"revolution") with more tact than, say, a YA novel, is because Sebastien is the perfect character to lead this crusade. He isn't too much of a "hero;" Sebastien's darkness is one of the most important and skilled elements of this book, and I greatly appreciate its inclusion. Too often, books utilize a 100% kind or "perfect" hero/heroine, or rely wholeheartedly on a reluctant one. To use two YA books as a contrasting example, Tris in Divergent had next to no complexity of emotion; she was just "good." Katniss in The Hunger Games (even though I adore this book) wasn't emotionally invested in the revolution or fighting for the oppressed--she just wanted to survive. But Sebastien reflects a more realistic modern crusader; he's deeply angry at how the world has treated him, and his emotions regarding oppression often get the better of him. Even just being a bisexual woman (but white and cis), I relate to this. Sebastien's darkness and the mistakes he makes add a layer of depth to this novel, and greatly endeared him to me. The use of flashbacks to reveal more of Sebastien's character was also incredibly clever, as it allowed the reader to be gradually introduced into the truth of who Sebastien really is, making the eventual effect much stronger.

(Hopefully) without giving away any spoilers, I'll also say that the ending was subtle and suiting; it didn’t go overboard in some massive, splashy, soap-opera-style way. It was hopeful, quiet, and reflective of real life—and I really, really appreciated that.

Ultimately, I greatly enjoyed reading this book. If you aren't into it so much in the beginning, keep going--this book really is a "rebellious tide," and you'll be sunk gradually deeper into it. By the last third of The Rebellious Tide, I was reading during the day (I can usually only focus enough to read at night), and I absolutely had to find out what happened. The Rebellious Tide is a quick and lovely read--if the idea of the setting and themes interest you, pick it up! And don't forget to check out my short interview with the author on my blog: https://kfkress.wixsite.com/thebookka...
Profile Image for Ashley.
136 reviews6 followers
January 7, 2021
In Eddy Boudel Tan's sophomore novel, we follow Sebastien on a journey to find his father which soon explodes into a protest for workers rights and an investigation on what's really happening in room A66. This book has plenty of threads, revisiting Sebastien's past and present to tell the complete story. At about the 80% mark in the book, I worried that there were too man threads, and that a satisfying ending would be hard to pull off. Tan's writing was beautiful, and by the end of the book, every plot thread was answered in a meaningful way.

One concern I had for the book early on was the main character's seemingly black and white perspective on the world around him, as I felt it lacked nuance and would be used as an excuse to avoid development on the antagonists in the story. While Sebastian remains mostly hard-set in his ideals, it was great to see some of his decisions waver as the story went on. There were undoubtedly some characters he wanted to believe more than the evidence he was gathering, and it added a great sense of tension to the story. When other characters started revealing their own views on morality--many of which were more grey--I found myself enjoying the sharp juxtaposition they shared with the protagonist.

While the protagonist is always fighting for ideals which readers should easily emphasize with, such as friends, worker's rights, and transparency, there are moments where Sebastian goes too far. His relationship with the ship's captain
Spoilermeans that early on, many of the protagonists decisions seem self-serving. Later on, Sebastian goes to certain extremes in his own investigation, such as
Spoiler. These are all meaningful for the plot, and are used to compare the similarities between two characters on opposing sides.
SpoilerIn the end, the protagonist does reveal the mystery of Room A66, the worker's right protest is resolved, and Sebastian gets the answers he had about his father in the beginning of the novel.

My favorite aspects of this story, beyond the cinematic writing style and strong themes, was definitely the character interactions. Despite being a flawed protagonist, it is clear that Sebastian cares for and loves those he swears to protect. In an adventure to find out more about his father, he gains an entirely separate family and rekindles past friendships in the process. While most of the characters are Greek, there is plenty of LGBT representation, with some POC representation in the book (Asian-Canadian, Hispanic, Asian) as well. Racial background and sexual orientation enhance the plot, but are not at the center of the story, which is refreshing compared to other modern LGBT literature.

Thank you to Netgalley for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts are my own. If this review seems interesting to you, the book comes out on July 13th, 2021.
Profile Image for Crystal Cahill.
207 reviews5 followers
July 11, 2021
I loved this book, from beginning to end. WHAT a journey!
I absolutely loved the characters and their complexity. Sebastian of course- but also Ilya and Sophie. I was so surprised by the twists & turns, the suspense, and the back & forth from past and present. This book kept me captivated & kept me guessing!

Thank you Eddy for another amazing book! Can’t wait to see what you’ll do next :)

I would recommend this book to anyone! But especially those who love:
Psychological thrillers/suspense/mystery- as it has elements of all of those.
Family dramas & stories of friendship.
Travel, cruises, France :)
Stories of resilience, overcoming adversity... and of course, a good revenge/good vs. evil type story!
Profile Image for Joyfully Jay.
7,366 reviews417 followers
August 10, 2021
A Joyfully Jay review.

2 stars

I struggled so much with this book most of the way through it. The beginning was fine as we meet Sebastian and learn about his life with his mother. Sebastian grew up without much money and without a father and, now that his mother has died, it’s time that he gets answers. Sebastien has been involved on and off again with Sophie, a childhood friend turned lover, and when Sebastian knows their romantic relationship has come to an end once and for all, he heads to the cruise ship in the Mediterranean where his father is the captain.

The point of view of the story shifts and the whole tone and style of the book was off for me. We are mostly in Sebastian’s point of view, but then randomly it shifts to other characters for a few lines and the structure of that was messy. We also get flashbacks at random times of when Sebastian was younger wedged in, and the flow was completely broken each time this would happen. Sophie also didn’t seem like a good friend to him and, in one flashback, we see Sophie betraying Sebastian in a brutal fashion, but still they remain the best of friends and resume their dating.

Read Michelle's review in its entirety here.
778 reviews124 followers
October 3, 2021
This is a fast-paced book that would make a great vacation read. I read it in 3 days.

Sebastien seeks his birth father who works on a cruise ship. But soon that premise is overshadowed by intrigue on the luxury liner.

This book is a mystery crime novel of sorts. The story is gripping and the writing is solid.

I could have done without the internal dialogue, italicized, where Sebastien speaks to his birth father. It detracted and it was sophmoric.

As the author worked on cruise ships, I wonder how much of this book stems from his experiences. In any case, the setting was certainly interesting.

Here is an interview (9/24/2021) with the appealing Tan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvXVA...
Profile Image for zee reads.
229 reviews55 followers
March 19, 2021

a really interesting, unique premise that was unfortunately bogged down by writing style and narrative choices. this novel suffers from loads of telling not showing and really strange pov switches, often in the same paragraph, giving us quick, random perspectives of characters that aren't necessarily needed for the plot to progress. it really felt all the characters were held at arms-length away, making it harder for me to really care about them, their relationships with one another, or what was happening. this wasn't helped by the clunky, often unnatural feeling dialogue.

the way sebastien's backstory unravelled throughout could've been better if we KNEW the important information earlier, instead of the most important aspects being revealed in the third act. it wasn't that sebastien is a completely unsympathetic character, but i feel knowing more about him BEFORE the story begins to wrap up would've made me understand his choices and motivations a lot better.

and don't get me started on these two characters referring to themselves as achilles and patroclus after hooking up literally once. that whole thing was super corny, and with the already many greek parallels being not so subtly shoved down our throats, i just could not take it seriously.

there was also one part where we're taken completely out of the plot and told the story of the trojan horse???

i liked the discussions/themes of racism, white privilege, and a main character whose story wasn't limited to, and didn't necessarily revolve around being lgbtqia+. but that was basically it.

also some spoiler stuff that rubs me the wrong way: the fact that after athena publicly helps expose her abusers she just like....disappears. we don't ever hear about her or from her again??? shes the victim, pretty much the catalyst of the story, but we don't get to see how she's doing or what happens to her at the ending of the novel. unless im missing something, it kind of makes me feel like she was only there as a plot device and then was just thrown away when no longer needed. also sebastien actually violently assaults and blackmails an innocent KID and feels just sort of bad about it by the end??? like i get it, he has extreme anger issues associated with trauma, the why not actually being revealed until AFTER, when the book is almost over, but holy shit. he basically traumatizes this poor kid and then at the end when the kid understandably lashes out, he chalks it up to them having the same dad?

unfortunately, while i didn't care for the rebellious tide, i'm still interested in tan's debut and wouldn't be opposed to checking it out sometime in the future. hopefully, i'd enjoy it a lot more!

thank you to edelweiss for the digital arc in exchange for my honest review!
Profile Image for Kate.
764 reviews49 followers
August 23, 2021
"He felt the rage seeping out of his lugs. It was so pure, white like his father's uniform. He wanted to let go, like he'd done before, but he fought it. There was still so much that needed to be done."~pg.133
I absolutely loved Eddy's debut novel After Elias, it gutted me so I was anxious to read his follow up and it didn't disappoint!

The Rebellious Tide follows Sabastian a half Singaporean half Greek, queer protagonist on a Mediterranean sea voyage. He has recently lost his mother and never met his father, who abandoned them thirty years earlier when his mother was pregnant with him. After a tough life his mother passes away leaving Sebastian with anger, questions and a need for revenge towards his father. So he poses as a member of the crew on the luxury liner his father is the commanding officer on. But he ends up discovering a unsettling secret hidden below deck that leads him to question everything he thought he knew about himself.

This novel was riveting! Eddy's lyrical and lush prose made this a fast read. This story has so many layers to it. I was so caught up in all the elements going on on the ship that I couldn't put it down! Homophobia, classism, power, family Eddy tackles big themes so seamlessly. I loved the mixed race, queer representation and all the nods to the Greek's. Eddy knows how to write vivid characters and setting so well. The suffocating, oppressed feeling of being on an ocean liner was such a great atmosphere for this story. Highly recommend this one and his other novel After Elias.

Thank you to the author for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review. For more of my book content check out https://www.instagram.com/bookalong
Profile Image for Alex  Watson.
43 reviews9 followers
July 13, 2021
Eddy Boudel Tan creates a really well crafted and immersive story as Sebastian sets out on a journey to find his father but really ends up learning more about himself and the world around him.

Beautifully written and thrilling. I’m a big fan of found families and I loved these characters so much. They all came with their own baggage but they were so intricately handled and stuck up for each other.

I did find the POV changes to be a little confusing at times but I do understand how it was necessary to carry the story forward.

Great representation. Nice mystery. Unexpected twists. Fun read.

Thanks to Dundurn Press for the gifted copy!
Profile Image for Glenda Nelms.
561 reviews15 followers
August 23, 2021
TW: assault, sexual harassment, violence, human trafficking, homophobia, hate crime

The Rebellious Tide is one of my favorite LGBTQ+ novels of 2021. It was emotional and deeply heartbreaking. A young man named Sebastian Goh going in search of his absent father after the loss of his mother. Sebastian works as a photographer on a luxury liner to find his father, uncovering disturbing secrets hidden behind luxury and money. The mystery and backstory of his parents kept me reading. Sebastian questioning his own identity and himself after an public assault on board triggers the crew's outrage and joining a revolt against the ruling class of officers.
Profile Image for P.J. Vernon.
Author 6 books592 followers
July 13, 2021
THE REBELLIOUS TIDE is absolutely everything I’d fallen in love with reading AFTER ELIAS — the emotional punches land with all the fury of Boudel Tan's characters’ anger, betrayal and thirst for answers & reckoning, a voice for storytelling that makes gorgeous prose seem effortless — but Boudel Tan didn't stop there! THE REBELLIOUS TIDE packs a tight mystery into the sprawling decks of a luxury liner that’s compulsive and rife with “trapped room” suspense, luxury liner-style, making this book one of the rare ones that truly delivers on all fronts. Bravo!!
Profile Image for Emily Stensloff.
114 reviews2 followers
February 2, 2021
what an absolute thrill ride! i was expecting more literary fiction, but i was pleasantly surprised by the mystery/thriller elements. simply put, i couldn't stop reading. while sebastien was an excellent main character, the supporting cast was also fantastic. fleshed out, exciting -- i loved every bit of it. i clutched my chest, i exclaimed, i gasped. the melodrama of it all... in the best possible way.

thanks to netgalley and dundurn press for an advanced copy.
Profile Image for Ana.
108 reviews5 followers
June 2, 2021
Thanks to NetGalley and Dundurn press for sending me an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Rebellious Tide tells the story of Sebastien, a young biracial man who, after losing his mother, joins the staff of a luxury liner where the father he has never met works as a high ranking official. It is very much a story of found family and grappling with one's identity, with an element of mystery and the exotic setting of a cruise ship sailing the Mediterranean.

This novel looked very promising but I'm sad to say it fell a bit flat for me. When I picked it up I was expecting a reflective book that went deeper into Sebastien's journey of self-discovery than into the mystery plot, and that wasn't what I found. We do get a good amount of Sebastien struggling with his identity, his past actions and his growing self-awareness, and I think that was where the author's writing shone, but it was outstaged by the melodramatic antagonists and some elements (*cough* stun guns and tranquilizer darts *cough*) that seem taken from the most clichéd Hollywood action movies.

I enjoyed the interspersed anecdotes and the portrayal of Petit Géant, the town where Sebastien grew up. I think the author really captured the oppressive atmosphere of its small community while also letting readers know that Sebastien's unkind view, while justified, is incomplete. However, when it comes to life aboard the cruise ship, there was a lot of telling and little showing. For example we're often told that the members of staff and the crew think of each other as family, including Sebastien (even if he has barely been there for two weeks and for all we know most of his socialising has been limited to Ilya and Diya). I just couldn't believe the found family trope here because nothing had happened to justify these unbreakable bonds. Another problem I had was the big amount of secondary characters (although I must give the author props for the diversity), there are too many for any of them to feel fully developed. The exception would be Nikos, he was very interesting and solid.

All in all, The Rebellious Tide was entertaining and I believe it will be a good pick for people looking for a fast-paced mystery with a diverse cast of characters. It just wasn't for me!
Profile Image for Anne Logan.
496 reviews
August 18, 2022
Yet another book that takes place on a boat, The Rebellious Tide by Eddy Boudel Tan is a more serious, character-driven novel that tackles the class divide that is so painfully obvious on a cruise ship. Much like the book The Swells that I read a few weeks ago, the exploitation of those who work to support the wealthy is at the heart of this book, although it has got a few different storylines (including a romance!) that propelled the plot along, much to my delight.

Plot Summary

Sebastien has never met his father, and his mother only spoke of him briefly before her death, so he decides to find and confront him about why he left a pregnant wife behind in Canada almost thirty years ago. Sebastien tracks him down to a luxurious cruise ship known as The Glacier, so he finds work on it as a photographer, keeping his secret to himself as he ingratiates himself into the crew and staff. He quickly makes friends, learning what life is like aboard a ship of that size and stature. As a staff member, his life is slightly better than the crew, whose jobs of cooking and cleaning relegate them to the bottom of the ship with no access to the upper floors unless on duty, and very little pay and respect. When the officers and higher ups make it clear their actions are above the law, the crew and staff form a rebellion, pushing back against the exploitation they experience at the hands of the commanding officer, Sebastien’s father. While at sea, Sebastien also meets a new lover, Nikos, the head of ship security – they begin a secret relationship as same-sex relations become outlawed on board as punishment for the uprising. If that wasn’t enough drama for one book, Sebastien also begins to uncover a dark secret aboard the Glacier that his father may be involved in, which adds even more importance to the movement against the unfair powers on the ship.

My Thoughts

Author Eddy Boudel Tan
Through flashbacks we learn of Sebastien’s childhood, and a major event that kept his life from flourishing beyond the confines of his small town in Quebec, Canada. Thankfully, this occurrence was not withheld from the reader, or overly referenced to build up false suspense. I’m being particularly vague to avoid spoilers, but it was a situation that I didn’t anticipate as a reader and it helped explain some of Sebastien’s seemingly out-of-character reactions, so it was well-done and appreciated. In general there aren’t any hard to believe coincidences, but some of the characters’ actions and trajectories were extreme considering their circumstances and Sebastien was full of contradictions, so the characterization needs a bit of brushing up or the backstories needed to be fleshed out a bit more.

Sebastien is bisexual, regularly having relationships with both men and women. Being from Canada, he doesn’t seem concerned about hiding this fact, it’s simply a part of him and he talks about it openly when asked. In contrast, many of the characters on the ship with him are from other parts of the world where being gay is illegal, so their openness varies when it comes to expressing their true selves. It’s this lack of freedom that is used by those in power to justify their exploitation of those beneath them. They claim that because they came from a background lacking in wealth, education or human rights, the actions they take to maintain their own lifestyle is necessary. Drawing similarities between Sebastien’s behavior and his father’s behavior is a theme that runs throughout and I appreciate the thoughtfulness behind this comparison because it highlights the subtleties found in the spectrum of good and bad in humanity. What makes a person’s actions bad but understandable? What pushes those actions into the unnecessarily bad category?

I’ve got some conflicting opinions about this book, but when forced to give a final verdict, I’d recommend it to those looking for a plot-driven novel. It moves along quickly enough that one doesn’t need to get caught up in the minor quibbles a book reviewer like myself tends to zero in on, but there are some minor issues that were hard for me to ignore.

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Profile Image for Yuval.
134 reviews13 followers
February 1, 2021
This book is good. I'll start by saying that. I enjoyed the story, I think it has a great idea behind it, but the execution is sadly, imho, lacking.
I think the reason for that may be that the author is still a bit inexperienced. I feel like I really wanted to get into the story but it just wasn't there. It's like the person who wrote this wanted me to relate to these characters, see their depth and wanted to build them with character, but didn't make it. This book is telling you things instead of showing them to you.
The first romance scene for me felt like it came out of nowhere, I didn't get the feeling the characters were even vibing well enough to be friends and suddenly they were on top of each other and it felt like it was so sudden. Also, the fact he waits until the last possible moment to reveal his identity to the Captain is super confusing because it was the entire permise for this book, finding him and confronting him... and there were more.
This story has a lot of potential to be good, but ended up a bit messy for me.
Maybe it's just me, but I think with a little more editing and rewriting some scenes it could've been a greater book.

I recieved this eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
28 reviews1 follower
January 21, 2021
*Thank you to Netgalley and Dundurn Press for the ARC in exchange for my honest review*

"The Rebellious Tide" is the story of a young man's journey to find the father who abandoned him and his mother before he was born that morphs into a mystery about the dark secrets hidden onboard a luxury liner. While the book has its moments, I didn't love it as I thought I would. The characters were one-dimensional and the dialogue seemed stilted at times, making it hard for the characters and their relationships to resonate with me. Some of themes of the book - good vs. evil, the powerful vs. the powerless - also felt a little heavy handed to me. That said, I was captured enough by Sebastien and the secrets of the officers to keep reading. Ultimately, this was a quick and entertaining read, but lacks real substance and depth.
Profile Image for izzy .
385 reviews21 followers
July 25, 2021
Not too good and not too bad

Sebastian Goh never knew his father, His mother is dead and he wants to go in search of his father he only knew through pictures

His father owns a ship,Sebastian is on board as a photographer

He wanted to know what kind of a man his father is before telling him the truth

However, a more sinister thing is going on in the shop

Is Sebastian string enough to fight?

His allies are Illya, Diya and the others
Profile Image for Jeffrey Chassen.
77 reviews7 followers
December 10, 2020
I enjoyed the book. I thought the bones of the story were really strong, but it lost me a bit in the campiness of the cruise ship. I think a little more subtly would have gone a long way. That being said, I thought the plot twists were smart and I certainly wanted to see where it ended up. There's always something so enticing about Europe, regardless of the context. I definitely found myself engrossed enough to find my way into caring about Sebastian and his choices.
Profile Image for Char |.
74 reviews16 followers
May 8, 2021
I received an e-ARC of this in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you to Dundern and Netgalley.

I love the lyrical and rich writing in this book.

The story has so many layers to it.

Sebastian loses his mother and, having never met his father, armed with his name and his place of work, Sebastian travels half way across the world to find him.

The story predominately takes place on a luxury liner (cruise ship), so it has this claustrophobic vibe, while also having a strong sense of family as well. I think the setting lends itself to showing the levels of trust and friendship there are between Sebastian and various members of the other staff on the ship.

There is so much to unpack in this book - full review to come!
Profile Image for Alonso.
285 reviews11 followers
November 11, 2021
I discovered the work of Eddy Boudel Tan early this year through his novel ‘After Elias’ and I knew I had to keep an eye on him. ‘The rebellious tide’ confirmed to me that I was right on that. This book is very round and engaging; with conflicted characters and good mystery and twists. I really enjoyed this one and I can’t wait to see how Boudel Tan’s writing career keeps going up
Profile Image for Sofie.
145 reviews
July 24, 2021
I think this is one of the most amazing books I have ever read. It really explores the binary of good and bad, which I appreciated, and added a lot of complexities to the characters.
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