“Rebel Within: Lance Erlick
Without structure many fail but too much rigidity can cause more problems. What about living in a world with just young girls and being forced to become a security cog and then encouraged to enter training more stringent than most would encounter going to a regular military school. Annabelle is the main character and it is her voice, thoughts and feelings that readers hear. Living in a society that has rigid rules, bans boys from their school, their presence and keeps them locked behind barbed wired fences, Annabelle has the urge and need to break out but something is holding her back. A group called the mechs is the ones trained to take down anyone that causes dissent. Although in security, trained in police procedures, she hesitates each time she is called on to report a boy that escapes, one that is sighted in the wrong place and hopes to find a way to help them escape. Seeing a young man with red hair, claiming to report him but to the authorities not fast enough, Annabelle winds up with a four week suspension from basketball, a stern reprimand and anything else those in charge can think of. But, she is not discouraged, her primary focus is to protect her young sister, and hopefully her adoptive mother will have enough clout to overturn some of what she is enduring. But, the mayor’s daughter seems to rate privileges, Annabelle has many who dislike her, and yet she seems tough, smart and determined to find a way out.
Living in a world where everything is regimented, decided for you and your input is limited makes it difficult for young girls to thrive on their own. Devoid of any male friendship, torn between two separate worlds Annabelle needs decide whether she wants the life of a security cog and work for the people that took her real parents from her or be ripped apart once again and lose the family she now has.
Things spiral out of control and her choices become limited as Annabelle decides to take up the offer of becoming a mech, finds herself in difficult situations, confides in her adoptive mother, wants to learn more about her son and hopes to protect her younger sister, Janine from the same fate she is about to undertake. Training quite unique, tests that require immediate answers and results, physical training quite rigid and the end result could mean her life. With others trying to protect her family Belle manages to bring too much attention to herself. The rigorous training and her competitive attitude often keep her in check with her superiors. One girl named Dara seems to have it in for Belle and the rivalry soars, their competitiveness and their desire to be number one just might take them both into the final arena but the winner might lose you more than you think. Added in we learn more about Belle’s birth mother, what happened to her and her father, plus her relationship with her adoptive mothers. One that would criticize her and the other that would do anything to protect her and her sister even risking her own life.
The training continues. The war begins within herself and the end result remains to be seen as loyalties, trusts and family ties are tested. Annabelle is our narrator who takes us through each situation, discusses her training and her fears for her sister and her hopes to meet her adoptive brother George and have a relationship with boys. Balance, training, pushing herself to the limits, dealing with a commander named Sam and hoping to become a mech, what else will Annabelle do in order to save her family and not be sent away? Chemicals that enhance her abilities, creams to heal her injuries and many questions that remain unanswered. Simulator fights, virtual reality reviews, and simulator martial arts training are part of the program created by author Lance Erlick for these powerful girls. With Janine, her sister trying emulate all that she does and wants to be like her, with Dara her prime rival each warrior as they are called hopes to return to mech gear training and make a difference. But, who will win out and who will remain? Who will wash out? But, fear encompasses Belle when the issue of the escaped boys comes up and some implications are made that she might know who is helping them escape and if she had a hand in it. Just where is her mom and what has she got to do with these boys? Is there really an Underground Railroad similar to the one Harriet Tubman ran? Is there someone that is actually helping boys find a better place to be? Living in a town called Harmony in order creates balance and peace you might say. Defining Harmony it means . Agreement in feeling or opinion; according to free dictionary .com and according to the Macmillan Dictionary: a situation in which people live and work well with other people, or in a way that does not damage things around them. Somehow these two definitions do not seem to blend in with what we see, hear and learn about this place and the way the Harmony staff or administrators treat their population. They even monitor their drink lists and have GPS tracking devices within each girl and many other ways to make sure they always know where they are. Some even have to wear awful collars. Her sister trains with the cop program and Belle with Renee and her recruits each with their own goals and mission. Belle with her fears about Mama Grace and hoping to someday reconnect with her real mother. The tournament is near, the training is almost over and the end result might cost more than one life. What happens is quite starling as Dara faces off with several men and so does Belle. The outcomes you won’t believe and the end result will make you wonder just why anyone has not stopped this town from their brutal ways and why no one has fought back. An ending so explosive and surprising you won’t see it coming. The final outcome of the tournament will change the complexion of Belle’s life forever. Will she become a mech or will she wash out? What about Belle? What secrets are revealed at the end and what is in store for them next as I can tell from reading this novel that this is just the beginning for Belle, Janine and the rest. What about the boys? What is the final outcome? Read Rebel Within and find out what happens? A rebel is defined as: a person who rises in armed resistance against an established government or ruler or even 16 year old girl who likes to live by her own rules. Two sisters different yet alike. One mother willing to risk it all. What would you do to protect the ones you love? The author raises this question along with many others.
The training is intense and you can feel the emotional strain as each girl fights to the finish hoping to become warriors. Although some might feel that the training should be similar to that of army boot camp, it is not. The feats are quite different, the hand-to-hand combat seems like there are not holds barred and the end result is quite different as many are hurt, some might lose their lives and others come out victors. Fast paced, action packed and definitely filled with energy and characters that will keep you wondering what is going to happen next as Annabelle leads the way and Janine well there is more to follow.
Fran Lewis: reviewer