Hello everyone! Today, I’m reviewing both Viral Airwaves and its sequel The White Renegade. Claudie Arseneault is one of my all-time favourite authors. She writes amazing stories, that focus on friendship and community. They’re solarpunk novels!
Viral Airwaves is #ownvoices for asexual and aromantic representation. The White Renegade is #ownvoices for aromantic representation.
Henry Schmitt wants nothing more than a quiet life and a daily ration of instant noodles. At least until he learns the terrible secret that drove his father away—the Plague that killed his mother and ravaged his country was created by those now in power. He has one chance to help expose the conspiracy: a ragtag band of rebels needs a pilot for their hot air balloon, where they can launch a broadcast revealing the truth. If Henry accepts, he can experience his dream of flight. But he would have to leave his safe, tranquil life behind … and bring the wrath of a corrupt government upon his head.
I always love how detailed the worldbuilding is in Claudie Arseneault’s books and Viral Airwaves did not disappoint. It’s a dystopian world that is not that far into the future, that it is totally different from the world we live in now. One of the characters has studied electrical engineering for example.
There’s an enemies-to-lovers plot line. I loved how the relationship built up very slowly, and how each person had time to come to terms with what they knew about the other, and to find out who the other person actually was deep down.
There’s a huge focus on friendship and found family which I always find very beautiful and heart-touching.
I’m always a fan of characters that wear glasses. Especially in dystopian fiction! Like what happens when you lose them, or break them. How do you look after them in a dystopian world, where you might not be able to get a new pair that easily. Arseneault weaves this topic in the rest of the narrative, and I was so happy!
One question that I still have though is what were The Races?
Ableist language is used in the text.
Viral Airwaves was a wonderful read. I loved how it combined solarpunk themes with the dystopian themes.
Between bisexuality and albinism, Seraphin always felt like an outsider in his own town. He finally finds companionship in Alex, an agender and aromantic teenager who interns over the summer. With him he learns to trust himself and his instincts. It leads Seraphin to leave his town and join the army invading his country, but when his squad is ordered to raid his hometown, Seraphin finds his new life may come at the price of his old.
This novella is so sad! It was heart-breaking to read about the mistakes that Seraphin makes and what happened to him before the events in Viral Airwaves. It’s a story about being betrayed, believing propaganda, and finding the strength to stand up for what is right.
Once again, I was very happy with how the fact that one of the characters wore glasses just flowed into the rest of the narrative.
I loved how the tree kept popping up in the narrative, and how it was used as a symbol of strength for Seraphin.
And bloody hell, that ending. I did not expect Seraphin to do what he did to General Vermen. Woah!
Trigger warnings: murder.
If you’re looking for a solarpunk series, and something that focusses on friendship and trying to do what is right in difficult political situations, get these books. I enjoyed them so much. You’ll be in for a very emotional read!
Have you read any of the Viral Airwaves books? Do you want to read them?