Now that boyfriends Zed and Blake have made it safely to the well-stocked bunker Zed’s own alien race built on Earth, they and their friends Cherry and Lauren can breathe a bit easier. Neither the Kahaji—another alien race that attacked Earth and is now seemingly enslaving any survivors they find—nor their sentinels, enormous wolf-like warriors, have found the bunker. What’s more, there is a ship at sea with even more human survivors and they plan to head for the bunker. With their numbers growing, Blake and Cherry soon start thinking about trying to help the people who the Kahaji have imprisoned in camps.
Before the people from the ship arrive and before Blake and Cherry’s rescue plans take shape, however, disaster strikes. Their bunker may have been unoccupied, but that doesn’t mean it’s off the radar of Zed’s people. Zed was a military lieutenant tasked with learning as much about life on Earth before the Kahaji attacked. But he abandoned his duty when he fell in love with Blake years ago. Deserting his post has made Zed guilty of an egregious crime in the eyes of his commanding officer. That officer, known simply as the general, returns for Zed and threatens to kill Blake and the others if Zed does cooperate. But Blake refuses to let the love of his life slip through his fingers without a fight.
Rebellion is the second book in H.L. Day’s Fight For Survival series. The first installment was released a few years ago so I decided to reread the first book before continuing with book two. However, for readers who are eager to continue the series right away, Day includes a clearly marked and very thorough summary of Refuge immediately before the first chapter of Rebellion. Day also makes it clear that this summary has spoilers for book one.
As indicated by the author’s warnings, Rebellion is very much a direct continuation of the events that transpired at the end of Refuge. In other words, book one ends with Zed and Blake and their two companions finally, miraculously reaching the safety of the bunker that Zed’s people secretly built on Earth. Their days are filled with tedium. After all, the world and civilization has basically ended and, as far as they know, they are the last four free humans on the planet. Blake and especially his best friend Cherry quickly start entertaining ideas that Zed, with his military background, can train their group into something of a fighting force. Before we get much beyond a mini-montage of the four of them learning how to shoot a gun, Zed’s commanding officer returns.
The return of Zed’s commanding officer creates the biggest development in how the story unfolds. This is because the foursome of Zed, Blake, Cherry, and Lauren get split into two groups, creating the potential for two arcs. First, there is Zed being hauled back to his planet as Blake secretly tries to rescue him, fighting against all odds as a foreigner in a foreign land. Second, there is Cherry and Lauren as they wait it out in the bunker, hoping that a ship at sea carrying a few dozen other human survivors can navigate their way to them. I think you can count the number of chapters not featuring Zed/Blake on one hand. For me, this noticeably throws the Earth-bound characters at the bunker into decided “B-team” territory. Their arc is spaced rather far apart and two of the three major chapters covering their story are narrated by a minor character from the first book. I appreciate the reminder that Zed and Blake aren’t the only characters. Still, this B-team arc felt like it interrupted the main thread of Blake trying to save Zed.
At the character level, I think there is tremendous personal growth of Blake. All his experiences surviving a literal alien invasion in book one primed him to take more action and be more proactive in this book. At the same time, I think Day does a good job of tempering his chutzpah with the fact that he is only human. Blake comes across as sort of whiney sometimes and takes some of the most ridiculous things into consideration—like his debate on stealing a whole case of space food, but just a couple of bottles of water when he needs it. It’s also very clear that Blake never forgets that he is now the one who is alien and desperately trying to stay hidden in plain sight so he can accomplish his goal of saving Zed.
Overall, I thought the pacing of the story was decidedly slower than the first book. Again, the rare but jarring (to me) inclusion of the bunker/Earth team interrupted the flow of the Zed/Blake drama. And as believable as it was having Blake be the cautious lead of their thread of the story, it also baked in some monotony given the process of rescuing Zed. I think this book lays some important framework to link the alien invasion from book one to whatever will happen in the planned third book. On its own, it feels like Rebellion offers surprisingly little substance beyond a bit of development for Blake. For readers who read the first book, I think the second one is a bit of a come down. Nevertheless, I am hopeful the disparate threads in this book and the hostile takeover of Earth from the first one will come together in the next installment.