I’m so glad I finally get to share this book with you guys. I’ve been sitting on this review for months, itching for time to move faster so that I could gush about just how awesome it is. And the day is finally here! Defiance by C.J. Redwine comes out NEXT WEEK (8/28/12) and trust me, this is one you want to get your hands on as soon as possible.
(Go here if you’d like to read my interview with C.J.!)
The Plot (From Goodreads, because it’s too complex for me to summarize on my own)
“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.”
This book had literally everything I love in a story.
The action and adventure was incredible. There were scenes that literally left me gasping and curling into a ball, and that’s not something I typically do while reading. I’m normally a much more…stationary…reader. But the tension in some scenes was nearly palpable, and I couldn’t help myself. I was invested.
It also was a mishmash of all my favorite genres. There were elements of sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, steampunk, romance, and of course, fantasy. And when I say “mishmash,” don’t misunderstand me. I mean it in the best possible way. This book may have a genre identity crisis, but that’s just because it defines its own new genre of pure awesome. So no, I’m not quite sure how to categorize it, and with some books, that would be a problem. Not here. Defiance blends genres seamlessly, and left me hungry for more fantasy-sci-fi-post-apocalyptic-steampunk-romances.
Too bad I don’t know of any.
The characters of Rachel and Logan were strong, personable, flawed, and passionate. They each had their own unique voice, and I loved how the narrative shifted between the two of them. The characters balanced and complemented each other well, and their relationship quickly skyrocketed to the top of my list of favorite YA pairings. I thought their alternating voices kept the story constantly fresh, and I was completely engaged from beginning to end.
The character of the Commander made for a deliciously evil antagonist. The kind you want to slap every time he enters a room, or maybe cower from underneath a table. Just when I thought he couldn’t be more despicable, he was. But he also wasn’t a caricature of a villain. He seemed frighteningly real and terrifying.
And as for the story itself, it was unique, exciting, and thrilling. I wasn’t really shocked by anything that happened, but I also didn’t find it at all formulaic. There were no twists for the sake of twists, nor were there any payoffs that didn’t feel earned. The story simply unfolded the way it needed to.
Since I don’t want to write a 100% gushy review (much as I may want to), I’ll mention the couple tiny criticisms I had with the book, so you don’t think that C.J. fed me some crazy-making Kool Aid. First, I wasn’t completely in love with the ending. It’s good and exciting, but I like my endings to have more resolution, even if they are part of a trilogy (which this is. Yay!) Would it keep me from recommending the book? Heck no. But I do wish a little more was wrapped up by the end.
And the only other thing — which is so small as to be inconsequential, except that I’m noticing it in a lot of YA fantasy books lately — is the overuse of the word “crimson” in regards to blood. As in, “her hands were stained with crimson.”* This is not unique to Defiance. As I said, I’ve noticed this a lot lately in YA fantasy. A couple times, it works. But after a while, I just kind of want authors to use the word “blood.” Or even “red.”
But as I said, that is a tiny, tiny gripe. Mostly because I feel like I need to gripe about something to keep it real.
Overall, Defiance was a fantastic, exciting read that kept me riveted. It’s unique and special and splendid. One of my absolute favorite books of 2012. If you love a good adventure with magical elements and strong characters, this one is for you.
Content Guide: Contains fantasy violence
*No, that is not an actual quote from the book. It’s just an example of how the word could be used.