The Rebel Trap by Lance Erlick

The Rebel Trap by Lance Erlick(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

Voices in sixteen-year-old Annabelle Scott’s head aren’t God or signs she’s going mad—yet. Despite being a Mech Warrior recruit, she rebels against her female-dominated régime by not only refusing to kill Morgan, a handsome boy she’s attracted to, but also helping him escape.

Annabelle’s commander gives her auditory implants and contact cameras for an undercover assignment to investigate her corrupt police captain. Morgan hacks the implants to plead for her help in freeing his brother. As a pawn in a bigger game, she wants to help Morgan yet needs to discover the link between an attempted assassination of her adoptive mom, her police captain, and the geek institute that holds Morgan’s brother. Can she do so without falling into a trap that could destroy her family and get her killed?

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook in conjunction with the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.]

The Rebel Trap is the sequel to The Rebel Within but is actually the third in chronological order in Lance Erlick’s rebel series.  (Although within the book universe it’s actually book #2.)  Thankfully for me, you don’t have to read the first installment about Annabelle to understand this book.  It seems that the whole series is quite self-contained so that you can start at the end like I did or start at the beginning.

What I really liked about the book was the characters.  Of course your impressions of many of them are biased because you’re seeing them largely through Annabelle, but I like how Lance Erlick gave us insights into people around the main character, including her sister Janine and her adoptive mother.  But of course Annabelle was my favourite character.  She’s tough and determined to succeed in life but there’s a slight hitch when she gets auditory implants and contacts that allow her commander to see and hear everything she does for a mission.  There’s a lack of privacy and then there’s having your boss see and hear everything you do.

Still, she finds a rather interesting way around it as Morgan constantly hounds her to help him rescue his little brother.  And that really showcases the complexity of Annabelle: she wants to help Morgan’s little brother because she knows imprisoning young boys and men for their gender is wrong but at the same time she needs to root out the corruption taking hold in her society.  Did I mention that she’s also caught in a little power war between the commander of the Mech Corps and the commander of the police?  Like all teenagers, Annabelle does angst a fair bit, but unlike some her angst is completely deserved at this point so it’s not actually annoying for the reader.

The only thing I didn’t really like about this book was the repetitiveness of the plot.  It seemed to follow a pattern: Sam would tell Annabelle not to do something, she’d do it, Sam would be happy because she discovered new evidence against Commander Voss and Scarlatti.  This was sort of understandable the first few times because Annabelle was figuring things out and really blundering through the whole ‘subtle’ part of the missions, but it got kind of annoying after the fourth or fifth time.  Unfortunately, this constant repetition made the plot kind of predictable.  I knew how it was going to end and I saw pretty much all of the twists and turns because of course everything Annabelle tries to do as an intern cop is made to trip her up.

Still, despite my dislike of the whole repetitiveness of the thing, the plot was at least reasonably fast-paced.  It was slow enough for Lance Erlick to develop his characters properly but not so slow as to bog the reader down.  Not all of the characters’ motivations are clear in the beginning (although you can probably guess if you try hard enough) so it does keep Annabelle and the readers on their toes until about the middle of the novel where the motives become clearer.

The characters really are the strength of The Rebel Trap, though, so even if the plot was totally awful (which it really isn’t) I would definitely recommend this book.  They’re ambiguous enough to be real but not so ambiguous that you feel like their actions come from nowhere.  It’s a delicate balance and Lance Erlick does it well.  So if you’re into dystopias with flipped societies (women are superior in this one as opposed to men), then I would recommend The Rebel Trap to you.

I give this book 3.5/5 stars.

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