Who doesn’t love a story set in the future about robotic dragons and prep school students? In February, Andrea Tang released her novel “Rebelwing,” which tells a story about the significance of growing up. In her story, the main character, Prudence Wu, is a student at the prestigious New Columbia Preparatory School. Unlike her friend Anabel Park, Prudence Wu has to work hard in order to remain in school. To assist her financially, Anabel helps her smuggle books to sell across the Barricade Walls.
On the other side is the United Continental Confederacy, a land that is not as free as the Barricade Coalition. On one of her trips, her client pulls the alarm on her, leaving her in panic. She thinks she sees a dragon but before she can get a second look, she passes out. The next day, she goes to school and assumes that what happened was a figment of her imagination and carries on with life. But she notices unusual behavior from her friends Anabel and Alex, and suspects something.
A few days later, she again encounters the mechanical dragon, which imprints onto her. After an adventurous journey, she lands in a field and walks to the first café she finds. The barista, Cat, seems suspicious as she doesn’t seem to enjoy Prudence’s presence and instead, inspects her with judgmental eyes. But aside from the unpleasant atmosphere, Prudence is ready to start indulging in her savory pork buns accompanied by a steaming cup of coffee. As she takes her first delightful bite, Alex Lamarque enters the scene, with a plasma gun pointed straight at Prudence.
Friendships in ‘Rebelwing’
This book is filled with friendships of all kinds. From the very start, the reader is introduced to Prudence’s friendship with Anabel. They become friends after Prudence first approaches Anabel, who is the only other Asian American at their school. Anabel agrees to help Prudence smuggle books over to the UCC because she, as a famous general’s granddaughter, doesn’t necessarily need the money, but senses potential in Prudence and her meticulousness.
When Prudence finds out that Anabel actually wants her to work with her and her friends to stop a war, she questions her friendship and confronts Anabel for deceiving her. Anabel doesn’t abandon Prudence but tries to convince her to stay and motivates her to actually make the right decision. Anabel can be rash and cocky at times, but she values her friendship with Prudence. Throughout “Rebelwing,” their friendship is a rollercoaster with highs and lows, but it always comes out the other side intact. “I always have Pru. More than you trust yourself, I’m willing to bet.”
Another strong friendship is that of Prudence and her mom, Susan Wu. In the beginning of “Rebelwing,” she describes her mom as an author, but she doesn’t seem to leave a big impact on her as she is not mentioned in detail until Chapter 6, when Prudence mentions working at an internship. Susan Wu’s appearance is totally turned upside down when Prudence sees her mom sitting on the High Representative’s desk while smoking a cigarette.
Apparently, her mom had also been in the Partition Wars and knew Darren Lamarque. That’s when their relationship is finally revealed and we get to see who Susan is to her daughter. They actually have a very strong bond and you can tell that although Susan does not show it, she deeply cares for Prudence and her safety: “Dear kiddo, You brave, foolish, reckless child. Could I ever find the words to tell you how proud you make me? Forgive your silly mother. Foolishness is all she has ever offered the world, but it is foolishness made precious by you.”
Hints of Romance
“Rebelwing” starts out in a café, where a plasma gun is pointed straight at Prudence Wu. The person holding the gun is Alex Lamarque, nephew of Darren Lamarque, the head representative of the Barricade Coalition. The dragon that imprinted on Prudence Wu was actually meant to imprint Alex, as he is far more experienced in flying in combat — something useful in the anticipated battle against the United Continental Confederacy. It turns out that his gun was actually just on stun mode, but he wanted to get Prudence to explain what had happened with the dragon. Throughout the book, the relationship between the two deepens and they become close friends. However, Prudence does mention how nervous she gets when he comes close to her and implies that they might be in a relationship.
Action and Adventure
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Prudence’s life is full of adventure. It’s not every day that you find a student struggling to do whatever it takes to stay in school, which in this case, involves smuggling holo-books to customers on the other side of the Barricade Walls. On top of that, she is bombarded with the sudden attack of a dragon, or “mech,” and given the responsibility to save an entire nation from a war that has not even begun. Prudence thought she was going to live a quiet life studying and smuggling, while also stuffing her face with the occasional pork bun, but there is no doubt that this unexpected turn of events becomes an adventure of a lifetime.
‘Rebelwing’ Is Sci-Fi but Still Realistic
“Ignorance is really just a different kind of fear.” “Rebelwing” is not as lighthearted as the cover makes it look. It’s a hard-hitting story of a girl learning that life isn’t just about succeeding for yourself. Life isn’t always going to hand you the results that you worked for and anticipated. There will be times when you’ll just have to accept what is handed to you, no matter how reluctant you are. There are many instances in the book that bring out emotions that Prudence never imagined feeling at such a young age. Reading “Rebelwing” brought laughter and sorrow and is a book I would recommend for any lover of dystopian literature.