The Omega’s Rebellion by Sierra Christenson. My rating: 4 of 5 stars.
“Vanessa may be weak, but her purity gives me an opportunity to corrupt her. She may be on the Alphas’ side, but that will not last for very long. I will give her a taste of true power and watch it destroy her. Good girls are always the sweetest to watch crumble.”
Wow! Okay, I need to admit something before I dive into this. This story subverted my expectations and, in this case, that’s a good thing. Before I elaborate further, let’s give an idea of what this story is actually about.
The story opens with the main character Vanessa telling the reader that the Earth is divided into three races: The Alphas (the highest in the hierarchy), the Betas (one step down), and the Omegas (lowest class). Vanessa is an Alpha spy sent to the Omega camp to stop the Omegas from rebelling against the Alphas in an attempt to overthrow them from power. Meanwhile, the leader of the Omegas knows why Vanessa is here, and he has his work cut out for him to begin corrupting her mind. As the threat of war between the races draws closer, however, Vanessa will have to figure out where her true loyalties lie, as she learns that Omega society maybe isn’t so corrupt and heartless after all.
Okay. Let’s tackle the structure of the story first. The story alternates between two main points of view: that of Vanessa and the Omega leader Jie Li. Alternating perspectives can be a wonderful tool to show the stakes of the story being told and give the reader a chance to really get to know the characters speaking. My favorite book of all time did it, and it worked in showing the stakes of the story and what the significance was of all the events that took place within it. Same can be said for this story, which is why I enjoy the alternating perspectives so much. Christenson shows both Vanessa’s point of view as an outsider in Omega society and Jie Li’s perspective as the leader of the Omegas, which work wonders to make the reader care about the story and how it will impact the characters.
I want to talk about Jie Li’s perspective first. Going in, he is set up to look like the bad guy Vanessa is facing. Jie Li is actually the most interesting character in the entire story to me. I really liked that I felt conflicting emotions regarding him, because Vanessa’s perspective left me believing that he is the big bad. But, with his perspective, Christenson shows the beautiful inner conflict this powerful leader is facing. While I am not one hundred percent sure I buy the inciting incident for this (Jie Li is attracted to Vanessa, and vice-versa) his musings about her show that he is not the monster we are originally led to believe he is. This kind of inner conflict made me root for him, even when I believed that I wasn’t supposed to.
“I need Vanessa out of here. Even if only for a few hours. So that I can compose myself. She does horrendous things to my willpower. Her innocence and strong personality have me resenting who I am.
For the first time I find myself wanting to do good, not for myself, but for her. No, I cannot. That is not who I am.”
Now, before I talk about Vanessa, I need to discuss her relationship with Jie Li. Vanessa admits that Jie Li is a handsome man and that she does feel attracted toward him. Here’s my question because, as much as I liked how the relationship gave Jie Li character, it bugged me for one reason: how old is he? And, frankly, how old is Vanessa for that matter? Like I said, I enjoyed that the way Jie Li felt about this young woman gave him more humanity, but it still bothers me that I have no way of knowing what the age difference between them is. The only reason this bothers me as much as it does is because we are told that Jie Li has white hair. So, is he young and just dyes his hair? Is he middle-aged, being in such a powerful position? And how old is Vanessa? Jie Li implies at the beginning that she is a young child compared to him. Is he just saying that because he knows she’s a spy? Now, granted, we see Vanessa act rather maternal toward her friend Felix (who is a child) but I am still left pondering this. Like I said, though, I do like that this particular arc gave Jie Li more of a personality beyond bloodthirsty rebel, so this idea doesn’t completely fall flat on its face to me. It’s just a minor quip in the grander scheme of things, especially given how Christenson uses the relationship to drive up the tension of the story and develop both characters alike.
“No. No, no, no. Impossible. It’s just a dream. It has to be. I cannot have kissed Jie. What was I thinking?”
The reason I discussed the relationship before talking about Vanessa is because more of her character comes out because of him. She is afraid of him, yet she tries not to show it, instead relying on acting somewhat defiant, which is what attracts Jie Li to her in the first place. Now, I admit, I wasn’t one hundred percent wowed by Vanessa’s character. This is mainly because I feel like I have seen the character arc she experiences so often. She’s weak in the beginning, can’t really hone her Magik, and she eventually breaks out of that. What I do appreciate about the way Christenson handles this, though, is that Vanessa does notexcel at a rapid pace after she figures out why she originally had trouble using Magik. While I’ve seen the type of setup Vanessa is given before, Christenson does something with it that did subvert my expectations, and I appreciate that aspect of it.
“No, these are Omegas.
And so are you.
Damnit, I can’t get comfortable here. They are not my people, or even my friends. They are my enemy. But do I even have a place in the Alphan Society? I’m an Omega.”
There are two characters I need to cover before moving on: Michael and Wendy. Michael was Vanessa’s guardian and friend before she was sent to infiltrate the Omegas’ camp. We don’t see much of him, so I thought Christenson would relegate him to more of a background role. However, near the end of the book, Michael outs Vanessa as an Omega to the Alpha authorities. This situation kind of comes out of nowhere in the book, and while I think I can guess why he did it, in the moment this revelation kind of threw me for a loop. Now, with Wendy, I have a similar issue in her being the true big bad of this story. We don’t see her until the end of the book and, while we get hints that the Alpha society is working against Vanessa as well as the Omegas, we never see it leading back to her directly. It makes sense because she is the President in the story, but I feel like she should have at least been given a little more time to be developed before that big reveal was dropped. It made the ending with her and Vanessa a little confusing at first, because otherwise we don’t see her, and it just wasn’t enough for me. I wish we’d actually seen her more besides a few mentions in passing.
“I know Jie is watching me. It makes me very nervous. Wendy thought I was expendable and expected me to die right away, but why is it that I’m becoming more relaxed here? Jie has an aura that draws you in.”
Now, I only have one more minor quip with this story and then I’ll try to wrap this up. Whenever Vanessa and Jie Li kiss in the story (it happens twice) the phrasing used is that their lips are smashing or crashing together. This worked the first time, but the second time it just felt weird to me. Simply saying “I kissed her” or “I kissed him” would have been more natural and it wouldn’t have stood out as awkwardly. Unfortunately, the second time that phrasing is used, it sounds like the kiss hurts and it kind of takes you out of the moment.
Now, I admit, I did not expect to enjoy this story as much as I did. The formula used here has been done before, but I feel that Christenson works hard to really make her version of it stand out. Like I said, the major reason for that is the big twist toward the end and that’s when I started to actually really enjoy what I was experiencing, but it is there and I did enjoy it. All in all, this story is a fantastic addition to the fantasy genre and is definitely not something to miss. It’s short, but powerful enough in execution that it will stay with you long after the last page is turned.