Series: Viral Airwaves #0.5
Also in this series: Viral Airwaves
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 them 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.
Also by this author: Viral Airwaves, City of Strife, City of Betrayal
The White Renegade by Claudie Arseneault is a prequel novella to Viral Airwaves. It details how Seraphin wound up leading the resistance, his relationship with Alex (which was briefly mentioned in Viral Airwaves), and, perhaps most importantly of all, exactly why he killed Hans Vermen’s brother.
TW: war crimes, violence, ableism and misgendering
So! Let’s get to it! If you enjoyed Seraphin and wanted to know more about him and his motives, this is a must-read. This takes a look at a younger, more idealistic Seraphin and how he sets down the road for who he is in Viral Airwaves. It’s a story that is, at times, a sweet one, as Seraphin and Alex bond together and form a friendship with one another. It’s also a story that is utterly horrifying in places due to the fact that this also covers what is, effectively, a war crime, made all the more personal due to Seraphin’s pov on events.
Personally, I also really enjoyed the little touches of cultural differences between the north and the south of Regaria, discussing some of the reasons for the initial rebellion (which, I want to note, Seraphin is against for reasons and oh it is heartbreaking to watch his idealism take hits like that). Seriously, when this story isn’t sweet and adorable because Seraphin and Alex, it is heartrendingly sad, especially if you’ve already read Viral Airwaves and know how everything is going to fall out.
I do think it’s not quite as strong as Viral Airwaves, largely because while I enjoyed the cultural differences mentioned in this story I would have enjoyed it even more if we’d had a longer chance to meet Seraphin’s culture and family before everything went to hell in a handbasket because we would’ve had a much stronger connection to this time in Seraphin’s life and to the way the narrative impacts his belief system.
Also it would’ve meant more Alex and more Alex can never be a bad thing. Alex is awesome. <3 Have I mentioned yet that Alex is also aromantic? Because they are. And it gets discussed! (Well, a little. It is THE BEST. <3) And just. Seraphin and Alex’s relationship is really lovely to see. It’s not a perfect relationship and I heart that. It’s a little bit clumsy with two queer teens fumbling along and figuring out relationship boundaries together. They make mistakes and work to fix them together. It’s a delightful thing to read.
In any case, The White Renegade stands on its own perfectly well, so whether you want to use it as an introduction into the world of Viral Airwaves or just aren’t yet ready to say goodbye to the world, it’ll serve you well. It’s a quick, mostly fun read. (There are mass graves, okay? That whole sequence isn’t supposed to be fun to read and it succeeds. A little too well. *shudders*) And hey if you’re looking for more queer rep, especially explicit queer rep, give this a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. <3
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