Global Divide: Ryu Rising Vol. 1 Review

Title: Global Divide: Ryu Rising Vol. 1
Author: Peter Rodriguez
Publisher: Peter Rodriguez / Amazon
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 315
Genre: Sci-Fi, Battle
Publication Date: February 2, 2019

The Story

Global Divide: Ryu Rising is a light novel series from independent light novelist Peter Rodriguez. The story revolves around a teenage boy named Ryu who lives in a perpetual hell known as the Global World Order (GWO), a militant organization whose mission is to renew the Earth by creating humans of a single bloodline and eliminating all others. Of course, they are not unopposed as a group known as The Resistance, who is technologically superior, stands in their way.

Ryu and his best friend Dmitry, mainly referred to as Turbo for his incredible speed, try to survive the day-to-day training sessions brought forth by the GWO. Each day is split between physical training and mental training. During one training session, Ryu is partnered with a girl named Angela who is brash but ends up taking a liking to Ryu. The only problem is, due to the extremely strict regulations by the GWO, relationships are forbidden.

After learning the truth about the GWO’s intentions; Ryu, Turbo, and Angela wish to escape in order to find out the meaning behind Ryu’s parent’s death as well as find a way to stop the GWO. Little did they know that their journey would be beginning from that point!

Peter dives deep into the sci-fi realm in this story. Set in the year 2050, new technology was born from a meteorite that fell from the sky. The Resistance is a group that has utilized that technology into order to find their own path to restoring the Earth. The GWO’s plan is brutal and evil. In the beginning, you’re not aware of the plan and feel that this story would be about Ryu rising through the ranks of the GWO in an effort to change it from the inside; however, once the pivotal point comes, the story heads in another direction.

Peter explores both sides in the conflict and that’s even evident from the very first page of the book in which he asks which side would you choose? Each side has their visions laid out and while it’s pretty clear which side is more virtuous than the other, in the beginning, that picture isn’t as black and white and makes you wonder what side is truly right in this conflict.

I found the story pretty engaging, making this a rather quick read despite it being over 300 pages. It draws you into the world and suspends your disbelief and Peter’s descriptions of the world the story takes place in brings it to life on each and every page. While we have all seen these militaristic battle stories before, Peter finds a way to hook you with his writing and holds your attention whether it’s through suspense, moments of tenderness, or through situations which leave you shocked.

Characters

The cast of characters isn’t massive by any means. I believe it has the right number of characters to allow you to digest each and every one as well as get to know them on an individual basis. Even when later characters are introduced, the story shifts in such a way where you don’t feel overwhelmed by their introductions. The sign of excellent pacing!

First up is Ryu Kendo, our main character. At first, he’s a character who strictly obeys the military’s rules like the dog that he is, caring not for his life. That all changes when he meets Angela, who is quite the rookie who doesn’t exactly fully grasp how the GWO works. At first, Ryu is rather annoyed by Angela and her brashness but she slowly begins to change him when Ryu realizes that he’s falling in love with her. Because of this, Ryu begins to question some of the morals surrounding the training exercises conducted by the GWO, especially when he, Angela, and Turbo are forced to pair up with the sadistic Hiro. Later on, Ryu ends up gaining a strong sense of justice and it’s that emotion that shapes him into a very strong main character.

In non-independent works, a main character very frequently lacks a backbone to them. They are either passive in their thoughts and actions and while Ryu starts off that way, it’s not for a lack of backbone. It’s because he simply just doesn’t care. He’s content with just being a military lapdog that excels in his training each and every day. Once he snaps out of that, he’s never really timid or shy. He’s actually pretty ballsy and that gives him a bit of attitude and strength that people can relate to. I really enjoyed Ryu as a main character! The “professional” anime/manga/novel industry could use more characters like him!

Turbo (Dmitry), on the other hand, is the opposite of Ryu. Turbo is kind of like a little kid in the fact he beams with energy whenever he’s praised but falls into a bit of depressive self-reflection whenever he’s scolded. We saw that right off the bat when he was out of formation and the drill instructor called him out. Turbo just stood there depressed because he got scolded in front of everyone. We see it happen later on in the series as well once we pass the pivotal point in the story, too. On the flipside, Turbo is a reliable friend who cares deeply for Ryu. There are times where Turbo has come to Ryu’s aid or was there to comfort him when he needed it. He’s constantly thinking of Ryu and it always genuinely excited whenever he sees him.

To me, this makes Ryu the anchor to Turbo. It’s almost as if Turbo wouldn’t be able to exist or carry on if Ryu wasn’t there to balance him out. That’s how strong of a bond I can sense between the two of them. In that sense, you kind of feel sympathetic to Turbo but at the same time, you also wish that Turbo could function on his own without Ryu. In some ways, he can. You would expect Turbo to throw a fit if they happened to be placed in different teams for exercises (which they were) but Turbo simply just accepted it. By not making him seem so dependent on Ryu, it grounds his character a bit and keeps him more relatable. I commend Peter for writing him in such a way where Turbo wouldn’t seem like a complete and total lost cause had Ryu not been around.

Angela is a mixed bag of emotions at first as she was all over the place. In one sentence, she’s brash and almost tsundere-ish and in the very next sentence, she’s infatuated and smitten with love. This really spoke to her character as someone who was new to the GWO and didn’t fully understand how the military’s rules and regulations worked. Either that or she did fully understand it and just chose to ignore it in rebellious fashion. It’s never fully stated outright but it is strongly implied that it is the former rather than the latter. Angela was just naïve to the GWO’s regulations except with the GWO, ignorance will never equal bliss.

The relationship between Angela and Ryu was rather touching. You could feel their feelings getting stronger for one another but you also felt that tension because you know they couldn’t come out and state them due to the GWO’s strict regulations against relationships. Still, it’s those restraints that make you want to root for the two of them… especially when Angela goes out of her way to wish Ryu a Happy Birthday, promising him a gift is his mission ends in success. I enjoyed the Angela character quite a bit. She was innocent enough to come off as cute but brash enough to know that she was capable of kicking your ass if you stepped out of line; however, she wasn’t overly brash to where her feelings didn’t expose some of her weak points. Everything culminated in a well-balanced character!

Hiro Fudo serves as one of the main antagonists of the series. Hiro starts off being a rival to Turbo since the two of them are incredibly fast and Hiro lost to Turbo in a race by a mere photo finish. Hiro also has a big disdain for Ryu since he was ordered by General Gohan to maintain watch over him without any explanation as to why. Hiro lives for nothing except blood and glory and would go to any lengths to complete a training mission or an actual mission… even if it meant the deaths of his own comrades. Victory was absolute and nothing else mattered to Hiro. Because of this attitude, General Gohan favored him heavily and that made Hiro’s ego only inflate further.

Hiro is the kind of character you want to punch in the face with a spiked baseball bat…. Several times. He’s a character you love to hate and a man who is full of himself and drunk with power. I really liked him as an antagonist and with his attitude, you could tell he would end up as such from the very beginning. You would want to hope and think Hiro would just be the stubborn hothead of the four main characters but he turned out to be much more interesting than that!

The Torch, on the other hand, wasn’t as interesting from an antagonist standpoint. He is a good friend of Hiro’s and shares the same bloodlust that he does. His modus operandi is to set his victims ablaze, hence his nickname of Torch. While he’s aiming for the top just like Hiro, he has a general feeling of animosity as he doesn’t want to play second fiddle to Hiro, yet, he endures it for the sake of his own personal goals. Torch, like Hiro, has zero compassion for his comrades and would much rather kill them if they get in his way rather than do anything for them… despite this, there’s just something about Torch that makes him seem more level-headed than Hiro.

I know that’s really odd to say because he is as crazed and whacked out of his mind as Hiro but I think it’s that jealousy of Hiro’s success and favoritism with the general that acts as a counterbalance to his madness. While Hiro is just plain mad, Torch seems a little more calculated in his madness. Still, more focus was placed on Hiro than Torch during the first volume to the point where Torch just felt there for the sake of being there. He was one of those characters where if you subtracted him and just gave more brutal accolades to Hiro, the story could have remained unchanged and REALLY built Hiro up to be the ultimate antagonist.

While I won’t detail them deeply due to their late appearance and spoilers, we do get to meet Benjamin, Airi, and Professor Penski from The Resistance. Airi is a battle-hardened woman who is very upfront and direct with her words with a “take no B.S.” attitude.” Benjamin is like a puppy who is generally excited whenever he gets to meet someone and is always willing to lend a helping hand. Professor Penski is a bit of a mad scientist… only a bit more level-headed. He loves technology and experimentation but he knows the limits to how much the body can withstand, giving him some scientific morals. While they are introduced in the back half of the story, they become very relatable characters and do well with the amount of time they were given to be built.

These all produce a well-rounded cast with their each distinct personalities that you find yourself relating and investing interest into!

Final Thoughts

Global Divide: Ryu Rising takes a classic corrupt military tale and adds a sci-fi twist but not in a way where things are unbelievable. Everything seems plausible and even though the back half of the book has some Deux Ex Machina plot devices, they are backed up with an explanation of how that technology came to be as well as how that technology had an effect on the history of the world up until that point. It wasn’t just stated out of nowhere like a cheap anime plotline that made you facepalm because there was no other believable option. Everything was well thought out and came off in a way where it was a little over the top but within an expected range because this is science fiction, after all, and that sort of thing is to be expected.

I really enjoyed the premise of the story and how it shifted through many different emotional moments from beginning to end. A lot of that has to deal with the great plot line as well as the diversity and well-crafted characters.

Sci-fi series are pretty hit or miss these days as it’s hard to find one that really hits it on all cylinders. Global Divide: Ryu Rising doesn’t really hit it on all cylinders but it hits it on about 7 out of 8. Some of the things stopping it was some of the predictability of the story elements where you just knew something was going to happen at certain points and it does. While there were a few of them, not every story plot was predicted as some of them did take you by surprise. I felt because of this, the series played it safe in some aspects rather than trying to stick its neck out to surprise the reader. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it did provide some tense moments that were necessary for story progression and didn’t really detract from the overall quality of the story. I just wished that we didn’t get as many predictable moments.

The other criticism is the length of the chapters. I do appreciate chapters in bite-sized chunks as it does give readers many opportunities to have stopping points to take breathers but I felt the chapters were a little TOO short. A few chapters could have been combined as they were extremely similar to their previous chapter. Doing so wouldn’t have made the chapters feel incredibly long while still allowing them to maintain that short length feeling. It could have blocked and sectioned the story arcs a bit better and made the chapters feel more “complete.” I just felt the book was unnecessarily divided up too much when it really didn’t need to.

Outside of that, Peter tells an incredible story and fans of militaristic science fiction tales should definitely add this to their to-read list! I really enjoyed this one and think you will, too!

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About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.