Cover Image: The Rebellious Tide

The Rebellious Tide

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Member Reviews


I feel so bad that I can't finish this book, but the more I read, the more I feel like I am forcing myself to finish it. I just am not enjoying it. The plot is very convoluted and confusing, and it's just a very different book than what I thought it would be from the synopsis. The addition of the greek mythology aspect was also confusing and felt out of place.
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Thank you to Dundern Press and netgalley for gifting me a copy of the eARC of this title in exchange with an honest review. 

I love EBT's writing style. I loved his first novel last year, and this is just as exceptional. 

I really enjoy the way the characters values and traits and stories are revealed bit by bit through flashback and memories throughout the story, and how the 'good people can do bad things' replicates into the present day storyline. 

So what is this about? 
The story follows Sebastien in his late twenties in the days before and months following his mother's passing. He has never met his father, but knows his name and occupation. Armed with only this, Sebastien embarks on  life-changing journey which sees him working on a luxury liner. 

The setting of this is amazing. Sebastien gets a job on the ship and with such close quarters it feels like high stakes when things start to become more tense. The closed setting also allows the characters to form a quick and deep friendship which I loved as well. 

There is a mystery- type element to this story as Sebastien begins to uncover goingson on the ship itself and this was so well done. 

Loved it!
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I wanna first start off by saying the writing of this novel was well written. It kept me engaged, through the proses. But story wise, the characters grew to upset me along with the plot. Our main character starts off so shy and kinda lost in the world. And then when he goes onto a cruise ship, looking for his father. Who runs the ship; he grows a voice and completely ditches his shyness. For me that was one of the big things to bother me. Another, the side characters, I couldn’t remember who was who cause none really stuck out to me. This definitely turned out differently than I expected it. But like I said in the beginning, the writing was beautiful and for that I’m giving it a 2.5 stars, but story wise, I wasn’t engaged.
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I feel of two minds about this book. It is well written, but the story turns from one about identity and being alone in the world to a mutiny on a ship, and it all feels a bit schizophrenic. I thought this was going to be a book mostly about the protagonist, a half-Singaporean, half-Greek man who is trying to find his father after his mother's untimely death. It should be about discovery and figuring out where you came from, and it is to an extent. But when Sebastien joins the crew of a ship that his errant father (who he has never met) in order to stalk him, it becomes a very different book, and not one I enjoyed as much. But it may appeal to you, this chance in place and tone, just not my cup of tea. Still, a well-written book from a very good author.
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The premise of this novel sounded very intriguing, but the result is not pretty, alas. The story moves sporadically and often confusingly, and the writing style does not help. The author’s previous book seems to get better reviews so I will try it.
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Eddy Boudel Tan writes the age-old story of pompous kings, bastard sons and simmering rebellion – just with a new age flair and based on a cruise ship, or as the characters would like to correct me, a luxury liner.
The formula might be old but the introduction of a new setting brings an unimaginable freshness to the story and it is only achievable because of the way it’s written. Most of the credit goes to the characters – from the golden trio of Ilya, Diya and Sebastian, to our bad guys, the crew and staff of the ship and even the ones Sebastian leaves behind. All the characters are fleshed out in detail that you can see that the author certainly loves each of them. While the story was a little predictable (owing to the clichés it was working around and the oft-told storyline), I had a lot of fun reading it.
I came to this book with a set of ideas and certain expectations from a story of an estranged father-son pair, and this book blows them all away in the very first chapter with the seriousness and emotions it confronts you with. Once I got the hang of the mood the writing was attempting to set, it was an amazing ride.
I have to talk about the female characters in the story, even though all the major characters are male, the women outshine them when given the chance – Diya, Contessa, Ruby, Rosa (my favourite), Elena, Alexis, Athena – they were all strong and amazing in their own way. I absolutely adore Rosa – the lady who was a marshmallow at heart but still would wield a sword in the fight if needed (and also feed the enemy energy bars out of sympathy). And Diya! I was so happy to find at the forefront a badass mathematician who had my last name!!
(I will be posting this review on my Bookstagram page in the upcoming week - @the.bookgarden)
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FOUND FAMILY TROPE. <3 That's it. That's the review. 

Jokes aside (even though it's not jokes because goddamn do I adore that trope), The Rebellious Tide is a story of Sebastien on his quest of finding the father he's never met. And find him, he does, but shiz goes down pretty quickly after secrets start revealing themselves. It's not an easy read as it deals with some heavy topics (definitely check trigger warnings first!) and it made my trust issues 6 times worse, but it's also a powerful story of people standing together and fighting for justice. 

As we've already established, I'm a sucker for the found family trope. Sebastien's lil' squad comes from all sorts of backgrounds with different stories and reasons why they're on the ship. Though one could argue Sebastien and his need to protect them went too far at times, it was the love and support among them that made me adore this story so much. 

Also, BI REPRESENTATION! We love to see it. <3 I must admit though, at first, I wasn't the biggest fan of the sudden romance that felt like it came out of nowhere. But then they started referring themselves to Achilles and Patroclus and of course my wanna-be-one-of-those-cool-kids-that-are-obsessed-with-greek-mythology-and-radiate-dark-academia-vibes ass sucked that shiz up like a freakin' sponge. So to say what happened with them at the end ripped out a lil' piece of my heart would be an understatement. Which btw, the ending? THE ENDING? What the frick??

Though the writing style wasn't particularly my cup of tea and the weird POV switches confused me, I still FLEW through this book. It literally felt like I blinked once and I was done with like 10% lmao. I also find it rad and unique that it's set on a ship sailing through the Mediterranean sea (I might be biased, though, since I'm from Southern Europe hehe).

All in all, a pretty solid read that I definitely recommend pre-ordering.
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This book fell flat for me, which is a total bummer because I anticipated it to satisfy me if not blow me away. Albeit decent in its overall execution, this failed to impress me because of the quality decline, the unsubtle theme presentation, and the unremarkable characters. Overall: not for me. However, I do see its appeal. It actually succeeded at being atmospheric and relatable to an extent. For those who have a fractured sense of belongingness in a world that is harsh towards queerness, you might enjoy this one.
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“The dancers are a lot of fun, but they’re full of drama,” “They also survive on a diet of vodka and avocado” 

Plot. We basically follow Sebastian in his quest to find his father after his mother passed away and so he comes aboard a luxury ship in which his father works. But as he spends more time on board, he finds more secrets and lies about the man who gave birth to him and we follow his journey as he finds out about the real man with the help of Nikos.  

I gotta say that there were some moments that I thought were unnecessary. Almost as though Sebastian got himself into messes that didn’t involve him. And there were moments that I felt were a little bit of a stretch. 

The storyline was a little too rushed and so was the romance between Sebastian and Nikos.
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I absolutely loved this MM romance.

Such a great book with a solid storyline and great characters.

I eagerly look forward to reading more from this author.

A definite recommend!
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The Rebellious Tide by Eddy Boudel Tan is the story of Sebastian on a quest to find his father that abandoned him and his mother in petit argent Canada. Throughout the story the author includes several subplots that wile serve to give the main storyline girth they tend to distract from the original tale; a tale of anger, a tale of loneliness and a tale of a boy who’s always romanticized what his life could’ve been had his father been by his and his mother’s side. 
While searching for his father Sebastien stumbles upon the ship his father works for and a huge secret that he delves into solving and dismantling within record time. 
There are also numerous characters that are introduced and have a quick turnaround in their story that don’t seem to add much to the narrative, and sometimes they’re re-introduced and the reader is left to wonder if that’s even necessary.

The huge positive I will say was the representation of LGBTQI characters that more stories could have in my opinion. There is a good mix of gay and bisexual characters that for once are the Main characters and not the witty sidekicks. 

The bones of this book are good and the sense of adventure on a luxury cruise liner was enticing but it unfortunately felt like too many stories being told at once, too many flashbacks, too many Greek references that felt laborious towards the middle and end of the story. 

This book has the potential to be a summer read if it’s shaved down a bit and the main storyline flushed out of the multi-layers and placed front and center with Sebastien taking us on an emotional if not conflicted quest to reconnect with his father.
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This book had a strong start: the trope of a young man going in search of his absent father after the loss of his mother is made more interesting by the initial rage and Sebastien's disposition. However, I feel there's a desire to avoid "real villains" , particularly regarding Nikos and Kostas. Their ambiguity went from extreme coldness to extreme vulnerability, which made it hard to connect with them as characters, since the "victims can become abusers" discourse was rather heavy-handed. I did love the way Sebastien's sexuality is treated through the book, though, particularly his fluidity and how his identity is not the lynchpin of his character/personality. It's a mystery/coming of age book that has queer characters all across the range of morality and I really appreciated that.  We definitely need more books in that line! Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to read this E-ARC.
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Sebastian half Greek, described with dark eyes and unruly hair.   He lived with his Mom, Ruby, in a small town in Quebec called Petit Grant:  they were never accepted in the town.    Ruby had arrived there young and pregnant with no man in sight.  She cleaned houses to support them.  Sebastian is quite the character, he struggles with wanting to know more about his Dad, he develops a hate for him for abandoning his mother when she was pregnant.  He also has quite the temper!   Ruby is tight lipped about his Dad, and he is only provided snippets.   When she dies he goes in search of him, not knowing what it would lead to.
The story is well developed as are the characters, I recommend reading it.
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what an absolute thrill ride! i was expecting more literary fiction, but i was pleasantly surprised by the mystery/thriller elements. simply put, i couldn't stop reading. while sebastien was an excellent main character, the supporting cast was also fantastic. fleshed out, exciting -- i loved every bit of it. i clutched my chest, i exclaimed, i gasped. the melodrama of it all... in the best possible way.
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This book is good. I'll start by saying that. I enjoyed the story, I think it has a great idea behind it, but the execution is sadly, imho, lacking. 
I think the reason for that may be that the author is still a bit inexperienced. I feel like I really wanted to get into the story but it just wasn't there. It's like the person who wrote this wanted me to relate to these characters, see their depth and wanted to build them with character, but didn't make it. This book is telling you things instead of showing them to you. 
The first romance scene for me felt like it came out of nowhere, I didn't get the feeling the characters were even vibing well enough to be friends and suddenly they were on top of each other and it felt like it was so sudden. Also, the fact he waits until the last possible moment to reveal his identity to the Captain is super confusing because it was the entire permise for this book, finding him and confronting him... and there were more. 
This story has a lot of potential to be good, but ended up a bit messy for me. 
Maybe it's just me, but I think with a little more editing and rewriting some scenes it could've been a greater book
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*Thank you to Netgalley and Dundurn Press for the ARC in exchange for my honest review*

"The Rebellious Tide" is the story of a young man's journey to find the father who abandoned him and his mother before he was born that morphs into a mystery about the dark secrets hidden onboard a luxury liner. While the book has its moments, I didn't love it as I thought I would. The characters were one-dimensional and the dialogue seemed stilted at times, making it hard for the characters and their relationships to resonate with me. Some of themes of the book - good vs. evil, the powerful vs. the powerless - also felt a little heavy handed to me. That said, I was captured enough by Sebastien and the secrets of the officers to keep reading. Ultimately, this was a quick and entertaining read, but lacks real substance and depth.
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This is my second novel by Eddy Boudel in the last month, and it did not disappoint. While this novel is quite different from his debut, After Elias, it was similarly driven by a physical journey towards finding the truth and uncovering secrets. The first part of the novel is a bit more slow paced and plot building but the last 30-40% of this novel kept me on my toes. As the author said, “it’s a wild ride,” and that it is. Highly recommend to those who are interested in a well crafted mystery.
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I went blind into this book. I mean, I knew what it was about, but not what to expect. The storyline really was excellent. It was a well-invented story, with interesting twists and turns. I am a sucker for Greek mythology so the way this was waved into the story was so interesting and even satisfying. 
It was a quick-moving story, something I wasn't sure about at first, but it turned out to be great. The development of the story was great. I needed the first 70 pages though to really get into it. 
It was interesting to see Sebastien's relationship with his mother, and his home town, through these flashbacks. They were really captivating and gave me really a sense of knowing Sebastien. It made me feel like I have known him and his mother forever.
The characters in this book were immaculate. They all had their own interesting, and heartbreaking backstories. I loved how they all stood up for Dominic, the friendship between Sebastien, Ilya, and Diya. But what I loved the most was the relationship between Sebastien and Nikos. So, I have to admit, the plot twist really hurt my feelings.
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Review Posted Publicly / Positive Elements: 

The first thing that sold me onThe Rebellious Tide (and remains my favorite part of the whole story) is the main character, Sebastien. From the git-go, Sebastien's character is conveyed with sharp passion and dynamism--he's kind and charming, but conceals a level of darkness and fury that gives his character both an irreplaceable complexity and a keen sense of humanity.  As the book develops, the reader is drawn deeper and deeper into Sebastien's character--as if the very "rebellious tide" within Sebastien is gradually rising. The reader finds themself transfixed by his ardency, his courage, his desires, and his ever-shifting, dichotomous sense of self. Likewise, Sebastien is flanked by a cast of characters who are all self contradictory (as real people are) and complex, with well fleshed out backstories.  

The Rebellious Tide is also very strong in plot--there is a genuine sense of mystery, suspense, and danger. I wanted so badly to know what secrets were being kept on the luxury liner where Sebastien works, as well as what would ultimately happen between him and his father. Sebastien is a very active character and drives the plot with the same passion that fills this entire story. Yet, his flawed decision making and darkness also add another level of tenseness to the plot--unlike a simple, commercial mystery (i.e. a whodunnit or "What's gonna happen?") this story is far more realistic. The characters are permanently faced with difficult decisions and sacrifices; they must decide how much to sacrifice to find out the truth,  whether or not to ignore the ugly truths they find, and--perhaps most of all--if they can face the truth of themselves. 

Another thing that impressed me about The Rebellious Tide were the devices Tan utilized. This story is told in occasional flashbacks and multiple points of view; both of these are very easy to do very bad. When poorly done, they can completely ruin a story, distract the reader, or just fall flat. But Tan utilized both expertly--especially the flashbacks. This book has a rhythm to it, again mirroring the sea. The reader is gradually submerged and drawn deeper into the mystery, the characters, and the darkness beneath the surface. The flashbacks are employed to create this effect, revealing "secrets" to the reader about Sebastien and his past while the dark secrets in the present day (on the ship) are revealed. This deepens both the characterization and the emotion in the book, heightening everything as the story nears its climax. The Rebellious Tide is also told from a semi-omniscient point of view (i.e. third-person and not limited to one character), which--to be completely honest--I usually hate. Since characterization is my favorite part of every story, I generally prefer an intimate first person point of view, like in Song of Achilles. Yet, in The Rebellious Tide, the third-person point of view only intensifies the sense of secrets and mystery. In conjunction with the flashbacks, this device ultimately makes the story more dynamic, cohesive, and hard-hitting.

I also loved the setting of The Rebellious Tide. As I said before, I'm a sucker for ships and the sea--and also for Greek and Mediterranean settings. But you can't deny that the claustrophobic opulence of a luxury liner adds something special to a novel, and gives it a distinct aesthetic. 

The Rebellious Tide also conveyed a moral grayness that I greatly appreciated, and which ultimately allowed the book to pull off its theme of "fighting for the oppressed" with grace. Tan conveyed even the "bad guys" in this book with complexity and depth, and this realistic complexity was one of the things I loved most about this book. It adds a sense of realism to the "fighting for the oppressed" theme, which otherwise could be a bit on-the-nose. There were moments in this book that genuinely gave me cold chills, and felt incredibly powerful. I think the main reason this book is able to utilize this theme ("fighting for the oppressed"/"revolution") with more tact than, say, a YA novel, is because Sebastien is the perfect character to lead this crusade. He isn't too much of a "hero;" Sebastien's darkness is one of the most important and skilled elements of this book, and I greatly appreciate its inclusion. Too often, books utilize a 100% kind or "perfect" hero/heroine, or rely wholeheartedly on a reluctant one. To use two YA books as a contrasting example, Tris in Divergent had next to no complexity of emotion; she was just "good." Katniss in The Hunger Games (even though I adore this book) wasn't emotionally invested in the revolution or fighting for the oppressed--she just wanted to survive. But Sebastien reflects a more realistic modern crusader; he's deeply angry at how the world has treated him, and his emotions regarding oppression often get the better of him. Even just being a bisexual woman (but white and cis), I relate to this. Sebastien's darkness and the mistakes he makes add a layer of depth to this novel, and greatly endeared him to me. The use of flashbacks to reveal more of Sebastien's character was also incredibly clever, as it allowed the reader to be gradually introduced into the truth of who Sebastien really is, making the eventual effect much stronger. 

(Hopefully) without giving away any spoilers, I'll also say that the ending was subtle and suiting; it didn’t go overboard in some massive, splashy, soap-opera-style way. It was hopeful, quiet, and reflective of real life—and I really, really appreciated that.

Ultimately, I greatly enjoyed reading this book. If you aren't into it so much in the beginning, keep going--this book really is a "rebellious tide," and you'll be sunk gradually deeper into it. By the last third of The Rebellious Tide, I was reading during the day (I can usually only focus enough to read  at night), and I absolutely had to find out what happened. The Rebellious Tide is a quick and lovely read--if the idea of the setting and themes interest you, pick it up! 

Concerns (not shared on blog):  

- Because of the "gradually submerged" method, it is initially slightly more difficult to connect with the characters; there is a distance between characters and reader that may result in loss of interest during the first half of the book. However, changing this would also negate some of the impact of this effect.

- Occasionally, the prose itself was somewhat lacking, though the mystery of the story, the setting, and the characters ultimately made up for it. Two things I always look for in good writing are little details and rhythm. I.E. The author is 1) invested and placed in the world, giving them an eye for the smallest, most reflective of things—those little moments we all notice in life, like a fly between windowpanes. And 2) the writing “sings.” (Like this: This is something I especially look for in literary fiction. I want to be struck by the sentences and swayed by the syntax—as in a poem, or a modern classic like Song of Achilles. The writing in The Rebellious Tide occasionally lacked rhythm or detail, or the dialogue was a little stiff. I think this something most readers could easily overlook; personally I’m just very picky and hard on prose. Luckily, my worries about the writing itself were soon dispelled by the rhythm of the story. This reminds me of something author Maggie Stiefvater once discussed: the difference between a story teller and a writer ( I am distinctly a writer—I live for the prose. I could write nonfiction, poetry—it doesn’t matter. The story of a novel is just a lovely side effect. But it seems to me that Tan is a story-teller—the STORY was exciting, suspenseful, and ultimately touching. 

- One thing to note is that, very occasionally, The Rebellious Tide was a bit on-the-nose with the “fighting for the oppressed” theme. However, for the most part this was pulled off in an enjoyable, impactful, inspiring, and (in my, admittedly limited, opinion) realistic way (for the reasons discussed above).
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'The Rebellious Tide' was a fun, entertaining read, but not one that will stick around in my memory for a long time.

The story starts well. We meet Sebastien as a guy struggling with who he is, what his place in society is, and what direction to take with his life. As the only son of a struggling single immigrant mother in a small town in Canada, he feels he was never really accepted there, and when his mother dies, he loses his only anchor.
He decides to go find his father, a man he only knows by name and from what he learned from the internet. Sebastien enlists on the cruise ship his father has a commanding position on.

I really liked the first descriptions of life on the ship. I liked the characters Sebastien becomes friends with, each with their own background story that made them decide to leave their lives behind and find a new one on board. I liked how at first sight this new life is a big improvement for all of them, how the ship seems to be a refuge for those who experienced oppression of all kinds in their previous lives. And I liked how things took a dark turn once Sebastien discovered a secret that involved the ships commanders, including his father.

But then things started to go a little downhill for me. The descriptions that at first helped me form a clear picture in my head became repetitive. The main storyline, even though it took a few less expected twists and turns en route, was overall pretty predictable. The deliberate choice to seduce the security officer in order to get him to help turned into a less than believable and for the story unnecessary case of insta-love. (This felt like the 'love' aspect was added to 'soften' the apparent use of sex to get something the protagonist needed.) And suddenly, parts of Sebastian's past appeared as flashbacks, that painted a more detailed picture of him. They added interesting aspects, but it felt a bit unnatural that no hints about them were dropped in the earliest chapters where we first met him, as they would have been very important factors in his decision to leave his home.

Despite all this, I never stopped wanting to read on, and I did enjoy how the story unfolded. I enjoyed it like I enjoy an action-movie or a crime-series episode. Even though the right ingredients where there (interesting characters and setting, social issues), I missed depth and emotional involvement, though.
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