Author: CJ Redwine
Genre: YA, dystopian, paranormal
Publication Date: August 28, 2012 (Balzer + Bray/HarperTeen – North America)
Source: Edelweiss review copy/Publisher-provided ARC
Summary: Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city’s brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses, host dinner parties, and obey their male Protectors, Rachel knows how to survive in the wilderness and deftly wield a sword. When her father, Jared, fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector, her father’s apprentice, Logan—the same boy Rachel declared her love for two years ago, and the same boy who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself. But treason against the Commander carries a heavy price, and what awaits her in the Wasteland could destroy her.
At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city’s top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor’s impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.
As Rachel and Logan battle their way through the Wasteland, stalked by a monster that can’t be killed and an army of assassins out for blood, they discover romance, heartbreak, and a truth that will incite a war decades in the making.
☆: 4/5 – a fun blend of post-apocalyptia, dystopia, and high fantasy!
Review: Nothing like a little post-apocalyptic high fantasy dystopian to brighten your day. Yeah, you got that right – this book ties all three genres together to make an awesome story with an awesome heroine. While there were some issues I had with “Defiance”, overall it was a story to lose yourself in, and one whose sequel I’m definitely looking forward to. If you’re looking for a great kick-ass heroine, look no farther.
The characters were perhaps the best technical area of this book out of everything – the MC and her Protector/ex-crush/future love interest Logan were crafted very, very well, and I found that as the story went on, their relationship felt natural, and it wasn’t insta-love. In so many dystopian books as of late there’s been a rash of severe insta-love, so it was a relief not to find that in this book. Both the Rachel and Logan get their own character arcs, and they both undergo a transformational journey that gives us lots of fuel for book 2. But it wasn’t just our two main heroes that felt completely real – everyone did. From the smallest person in the market to the evil Commander to Oliver, the kind grandpa – they all had a very 3D feeling for them. I daresay even the Commander got his own tiny character journey arc, though it’s definitely not a positive one in the end.
What was also good was the backstory – Redwine really did a good job of explaining things to the reader about how this current world came to be, and made it work pretty fluidly throughout the entire book. HOWEVER. The worldbuilding as a whole was the most faulty part about the book. I didn’t quite find it believable in the sense that even though we do get some terrorizing from the Cursed One (and god how I cringed at the title of the monster every single time), it doesn’t happen frequently enough in the beginning to really emphasize the sense of danger and how high the stakes are to the reader. It’s not until the journey into the Wasteland do we really start to get an idea of how bad things might get (thanks to the duel POV narration – I love books that can pull that style and voice off, and this one did). What I didn’t find believable was that the US/North America would fall apart so quickly in fifty years from this stream of monsters. A pandemic or outbreak of some sort that might TURN people into monsters like in “The Passage” or the “Newsflesh” trilogy? Yep, I definitely can believe in that scenario. But fifty years for these little city-states to rise after all of these monsters come out of the closet and kill everyone just didn’t seem probable to me at all. The monsters were fun, but in the end, they’re just as important as the rest of the worldbuilding, and while I applaud Redwine for trying to inject some high fantasy into realistic dystopia/post-apocalyptia, it just didn’t quite work for me. Perhaps the fault lay in the fact that while we’re given solid explanation of what the monsters are, we don’t know enough about them as a whole. Hopefully, this will be remedied a bit in book 2.
But the plot, duel narration POVs, and characters are what made up for it. Rachel is a great heroine – one where romance comes into the picture only very late, one who wants revenge over everything else and works on getting it herself. She wasn’t a damsel in distress, and that was refreshing. She just kept going, no matter how many times the Commander tried to terrorize her into submission, and I love characters like that. She made the book for me, period, and she’s the reason I’ll be reading book two. Rachel is what saved the book, boosting this from an inital 3.5 to 4 stars, and Logan’s own transformation into a geeky badass was pretty great, too.
But overall, I can honestly say I was let down by the worldbuilding. I know that paranormal/fantasy-based dystopia is really starting to get itself a niche market in YA, but the way the world “fell apart” in such a short time just didn’t make sense, and it didn’t feel real. The rest, though – especially life in Baalboden and in the Wasteland – felt very real.
Final verdict? I think a lot of YA high fantasy fans will enjoy this one. I’m hoping the worldbuilding will get a bit better in book two, but I’m looking forward to it nonetheless. Give this book a chance and see how you feel about it, since it’s definitely worth the read. “Defiance” is out from HarperTeen August 28, 2012 in North America, so be sure to check it out then!