In "Rebellion", Rachel Cotterill creates a world where children are raised in schools, ignorant of their parentage, and assessors assign professions to students upon graduation. So, what does a girl do when she believes she deserves more than the assignment she was given? "Rebellion" follows the Eleanor's story as she rebels against her assigned fate and searches for the elusive Assassin's guild. The first half of the story covers ~ a year and focuses on Eleanor's search for the guild. The second half echoes Harry Potter and focuses on her two years at the school for assassins.
The first half of the book was great. Eleanor is gutsy and curious, a fantastic heroine. She tumbles in and out of scrapes, surviving on her wits, her desire to find the guild, and some measure of luck. When she finds the guild, however, the action slows down significantly. We see her in potions class, projectile class, getting outfitted for clothes and daggers, reluctantly hanging out in bars with her classmates. There is a competition at the end of the book--a series of three trials that she must go through in order to compete for a seat on the council. (Does it sound like Harry Potter yet?) The tension leaked out of the second half of the book and it just didn't end with the same bang as which it started.
The descriptions in the book are detailed. For the most part, it works because it paints a detailed picture of Eleanor's surroundings. After awhile, however, it felt repetitive. I started skipping over sections where she describes the tiles on the pavement and the mosaic patterns on the floor. There are also many scenes that focus just on what Eleanor is doing, i.e., moving through the environment with little interaction with other characters. (Admittedly, it could be a function of the story, i.e., a woman's solitary search for a mysterious organization.) It's a shame because the dialogue in the book is tight and snappy. I found myself skipping through Eleanor-only scenes to find the next scene where others are brought in to interact with her.
Still, this book was definitely worth reading and I will be picking up the sequel.