I received a copy of The Rebel Within by Lance Erlick in return for an honest review. I recommend the story, particularly for YA readers the action takes place in a dystopian world in which the protagonist Annabelle struggles to come to terms with a regime that actively discriminates against men to the extent that boys are kept under strict lock and key at home or imprisoned, and trained to fight to their deaths.
Annabelle dreams of escape but most importantly she is driven to protect her younger sister within the regime. Annabelle has an empathy for the males who live in her world and the story evolves as she tries to defy authority and to help some to escape. The Rebel Within refers to Annabelle’s drive to follow her own moral code (much like her parents who suffered for their actions, so that now she lives with a polyamorous adoptive family). The plot is action-packed centred around Annabelle’s training to become a “mech” warrior which she doubts she will survive. The angst that Annabelle experiences in learning to be true to herself and her heart is a compelling coming of age drama.
The book is written in the first person which I tend to dislike however the twisting plot was part adventure, part love story, part suspense and Annabelle’s experiences and dilemmas were interesting enough so that her narration was only a mild irritation in an otherwise enjoyable and thought provoking dystopian tale.