Defiance by C.J. Redwine
Book One of the Defiance trilogy
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Rating: 5 stars
Source: Won from a giveaway
Summary (from Goodreads):
While the other girls in the walled city-state of Baalboden learn to sew and dance, Rachel Adams learns to track and hunt. While they bend like reeds to the will of their male Protectors, she uses hers for sparring practice.
When Rachel's father fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the city's brutal Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector: her father's apprentice, Logan—the boy she declared her love to and who turned her down two years before. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father's survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself.
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.
What I Liked:
AHHHHH, I CAN'T EVEN BEGIN TO TELL YOU HOW MUCH I LIKED THIS BOOK! I've had it on my shelf since September last year, when I won a hardcover copy from a lovely blogger. I am seriously kicking myself for waiting so long to read this book. The big reason was that this was my most anticipated debut of 2012, and I was scared of being disappointed. I hate being disappointed by books I really want to love.
Well, that wasn't the case with this book. This book met my expectations and beyond. There was a very interesting plot, a tough but flawed heroine, a sweet and progressive romance, the dual perspective aspect, and overall, a great introduction to a new trilogy.
When I say there was an interesting plot, I mean just that! There are quite a number of YA novels that make me shake my head and say, "What was the point of this book?", because there seems to be no meaningful plot. This book DEFINITELY had an intriguing plot. It might seem like all there is to this book is Rachel going to find her father and some important package, but it goes much deeper than that. This book was packed with action, left and right. It seemed like every time I turned a page, someone was being attacked or plotting or scheming or SOMETHING. Never a dull moment in this book.
And can I just point out that the world-building in this book is really well done?! Mrs. Redwine has created a dystopian world that is Baalboden, and a mysterious unknown world outside of Baalboden. There are villages and people outside of Baalboden, and not all of them are "good". This world has a touch of fantasy to it (which I love!), and that is honestly what drew me to this book the most. I have zero complaints about the world-building of this book! Mrs. Redwine uses small things like swords and monsters and people in trees and a weird government to build an airtight world in Defiance.
I loved the characters and character development in this book. Rachel, the female protagonist, is seen as impulsive and a bit naive in the beginning of the story. All she cares about is finding her father and staying with Oliver and hating Logan as much as she can (and failing). By the end of the book, she sees and does things that haunt her, and she can't go back to her state of innocence. This character development is different in that Rachel grows as a character, but even though she is stronger as a person, she seems more broken and scarred by the end of the book than most YA female protagonists. I find this very intriguing and definitely something that sets this book apart from others.
Logan is the other protagonist, and the other perspective of the story. I love Logan so much, as the story's hero, the love interest, and his own personal villain. Logan is an awesome character! He's intelligent and clever, and uses his brain when most people shut down. He invents gadgets and technology, and this benefits both him and Rachel greatly in the story. He is sweet and protective and totally devoted to Rachel. By the end of the book, Rachel sees and understands this in him. Logan beats himself over every little thing, especially the things that happen to Rachel. I find that this makes him a tortured but realistic hero of the story.
The romance is not by means insta-love or lust or whatever. There is no love triangle. I loved the romance in this book because it was already THERE. Two years before this story, Rachel told Logan she loved him. He rejects her, and this is why she tries to make herself hate him. BUT, it turns out, of course, that he cared about her all along. So, the romance was sort of already there. Which is why, halfway through the book, when one character realized that he loved the other, and the other character realized she loved the other, I believed that they did. Because by then, they fought to reach each other again, AND, it really seemed like their feelings strengthened, not necessarily sprang up.
I LOVE that Mrs. Redwine structured this book to have the perspectives of both Rachel and Logan. Mrs. Redwine does such an amazing job of choosing which character should have which scenes, in terms of perspective. I was very impressed with her ability to discern from which character we should see certain scenes. And I always love getting the male's perspective on things, and not just the female's. I don't really like first person point-of-view, but when it's dual first person point-of-view, that makes it better for me and easier to read and understand.
I have to say, this book is a brilliant debut and first-in-the-series novel. Usually, the first book introduces you to the world, the characters, a minor problem that leads to a bigger problem, and an initiation of a journey that will lead to another, bigger journey. Well, that's exactly what this book did, and I like the direction of this book, going towards the bigger problem and bigger journey. Rachel's problem of finding her father and bringing back the package snowballs into something very dangerous and very detrimental to Baalboden.
The ending of this book is representative of this danger. What an ending! I felt like this book really sped up in the last fifty pages or so, compared to the pacing of the other 350 pages. Not that the rest of the book was slow or anything. But the last fifty pages went by quickly, and a lot happened. I'm terrified and excited to see what Deception will bring readers! Especially after reading the summary ten thousand times. DON'T DO ANYTHING TO THE ROMANCE!
And just a side-note about something. I saw that some people didn't like that Mrs. Redwine regressed women's rights. In Defiance, women have to be accompanied by their assigned Protector until they are Claimed. I think this aspect adds to the story, not detracts from it. Yes, we are in the twenty-first century. But look beyond that, into the story. Would certain women's rights fit in this story? No. It's what makes the world-building in this book amazing - the fact that Mrs. Redwine uses little details like that to paint a bigger picture - and it works.
What I Did Not Like:
There wasn't much of this book that I didn't like. I would have liked to see more action (in terms of romance) between Rachel and Logan, but I completely understand why Mrs. Redwine did not have at much obvious chemistry between these two characters as some YA books have. It suits Logan and Rachel and their relationship, not having crazy deep lusty chemistry.
But that's okay. I can hope for more in Deception? ;)
Would I Recommend It:
Yesyesyesyesyesyesyes! I love fantasy, and while this book isn't quite as much fantasy as it is dystopia, they small aspects of fantasy make me really happy. Even if you're sick of dystopias, you may enjoy this book, because it doesn't feel like a dystopia novel!
5 stars. I still can't believe I waited almost an entire YEAR before reading this book. Do yourself a favor and pick it up!
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