This book has been staring at me from my shelf since it arrived at my door last September. This one is a little extra special–it’s written by my friend Jennie’s cousin, I saw her post about it on Facebook, and instantly pre-ordered it. How can I resist?
Starting it kept getting interrupted by library holds with deadlines. It kept yelling, “read me! Read me!” every time I walked past. I felt so guilty knowing awesomeness was waiting for me.
It’s set in 2199 in Neo Seoul, part of the Neo State of Korea (NSK), a dystopian world that separates low tech Old Seoul from high tech New Seoul by the Dome. Lee Jaewon is from Old Seoul and attends a military academy in Neo Soul. After doing exceptionally well in his senior test, he receives a job placement at the Tower, the government’s center of military and operations. He is paired with a specially trained soldier named Tera, and must gain her trust. Their world is in an endless war, and Tera has been created to pilot a God Machine, a gigantic piloted weapon. Jaewon finds himself falling for Tera, as he must confront his troubled past, choose who to trust, and decide on his future.
This book is a phenomenal read. I felt like I was immersed in their world, hanging out with friends. Best book feeling ever! And, I appreciated something that’s not USA/Euro-centric. I’m especially grateful for the glossary at the end that defined Korean terms and customs. I love the added bonus of reading and learning, which turns into YouTubing to learn even more.
Coincidentally I started Rebel Seoul during the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. I watched a brief news segment about soju & food customs (specifically how to receive food from others) and observed Jaewon taking food with two hands. Also, I heard/saw Korean athletes called by last name first name, something I’ve either never noticed or has not been done on big sports broadcasts before. It was interesting that the NSK-born characters were called by last first, while non-NSK-born (but still Korean) characters were called by first last.
Many of my students are obsessed with K-pop, and I know they’ll love this book too.
One thing that makes this book even better is that Axie Oh is also a UCSD graduate! Go Tritons!