Discussion: Name that genre! And…does it matter?

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes get genre-burned. I’ll pick up a book, thinking it’s one thing, and then be disappointed when it turns out to be something else. It’s not that the something else isn’t good, or even that I didn’t like the book. It’s that it wasn’t what I was expecting. And while I sometimes welcome the unexpected, like with a juicy plot twist, I find myself wishing sometimes that the book world as a whole — bookstores, bloggers, even authors sometimes — would try to be a tad more accurate with genre labeling.

Also, let me just throw this out there: Young Adult is not a genre. Nor is Middle Grade, Adult, or New Adult. Those are audiences. They encompass the age demographic a book is targeting. But they don’t tell you a thing about what the book is about, other than the relative age of the characters (give or take a few decades, in the case of Adult).

So let’s talk just a minute about genres, what defines them, and which ones tend to have an identity crisis.

These are highlights from the Goodreads definitions. Sometimes it’s just easier than trying to type it all out myself.

FantasyFantasy is a genre that uses magic and other supernatural forms as a primary element of plot, theme, and/or setting. Fantasy is generally distinguished from science fiction and horror by the expectation that it steers clear of technological and macabre themes, respectively, though there is a great deal of overlap between the three.

Science FictionScience fiction is a broad genre of fiction that often involves speculations based on current or future science or technology. Science fiction differs from fantasy in that, within the context of the story, its imaginary elements are largely possible within scientifically established or scientifically postulated laws of nature (though some elements in a story might still be pure imaginative speculation).

DystopianDystopia is a form of literature that explores social and political structures. It is a creation of a nightmare world – unlike its opposite, Utopia, which is an ideal world. Dystopia is often characterized by an authoritarian or totalitarian form of government. It often features different kinds of repressive social control systems, a lack or total absence of individual freedoms and expressions, and a state of constant warfare or violence. Many novels combine both Dystopia and Utopia, often as a metaphor for the different directions humanity can take in its choices, ending up with one of the two possible futures.

RomanceAccording to the Romance Writers of America, “Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally-satisfying and optimistic ending.” Both the conflict and the climax of the novel should be directly related to that core theme of developing a romantic relationship, although the novel can also contain subplots that do not specifically relate to the main characters’ romantic love.

Historical FictionHistorical fiction presents a story set in the past, often during a significant time period. In historical fiction, the time period is an important part of the setting and often of the story itself. Historical fiction may include fictional characters, well-known historical figures or a mixture of the two.

HorrorHorror fiction is fiction in any medium intended to scare, unsettle, or horrify the audience. Historically, the cause of the “horror” experience has often been the intrusion of a supernatural element into everyday human experience. Since the 1960s, any work of fiction with a morbid, gruesome, surreal, or exceptionally suspenseful or frightening theme has come to be called “horror”.

ContemporaryContemporary literature is literature with its setting generally after World War II.

ParanormalParanormal books involve unusual experiences that lack a scientific explanation. Some popular subjects in paranormal books are supernatural creatures, ESP, clairvoyance, ghosts, UFOs, telepathy, and psychics.

SteampunkSteampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England—but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy, such as fictional technological inventions like those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, or real technological developments like the computer occurring at an earlier date.

These are just some of the biggies. There’s tons of genres and subgenres out there, and often authors like to mash them up. For example, romance can be incorporated into nearly all of these genres, which gives you Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance, etc. I think one of the reasons that genres get so muddled is that they’re not mutually exclusive at all. Contemporary is anything that takes place after World War II? Well, that could encompass pretty much everything (except Historical), couldn’t it? And obviously there’s tons of crossover between Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror/Paranormal.

I think the problem happens when we get these main categories confused.  I think the problem is twofold:

1) Certain genres are really popular, and everyone wants their book (or their client’s book, or their friend’s book) to be the next Big Thing. So they say it fits the genre, when in reality, it doesn’t. (I’m looking at you, Dystopian Fiction.)

2) Lots of books are really hard to classify, because the authors have mixed a bunch of genres together in a delicious cocktail of imagination. It’s a bit more understandable how these get confused.

So what’s the trick in figuring out how to classify what you’re reading? Just ask yourself a few questions:

1) What’s the setting? Is it past, present, future, or a made-up world? Is it based in reality, or could it plausibly happen in our reality, or is it in no way related to our reality? Does magic factor into it? Science? Is it based on a historical event that actually happened, or a historical event that might have happened if things were different?

2) If it is the future, what shaped the world? Was it a cataclysmic event? Government conspiracy? Aliens? Magic? Technological advancement? Just because it’s the future doesn’t automatically make it sci-fi or dystopian or post-apocalyptic. Look at why the world is the way it is, and that’s a big clue.

3) What’s the conflict? Is it about whether or not Jim and Sally will get together, or is it about whether or not Jim will save Sally’s a ghost, or is it about whether or not Jim will discover that he’s really a prince and the only one who can free Sally from the dragon? Granted, Jim and Sally may get together in all of these scenarios, but it’s only the main conflict in one of them.

Am I alone in caring about this? I’m not sure. Maybe you don’t care how something’s labeled; a good book is a good book. So what if you were expecting dystopian and got sci-fi instead? Or you wanted steampunk but wound up reading historical fiction? What’s the big deal?

But if you’re like me, it’s kind of like ice cream flavors. If I’m in the mood for chocolate and I get strawberry, I’m going to be disappointed. I like strawberry. Sometimes, all I want in the whole world is strawberry. But if I’m in the mood for chocolate, strawberry won’t cut it.

Here’s some examples of books I’ve seen miscategorized (a lot):

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron. I’ve heard this book described as Steampunk and Paranormal, but really it’s just Historical Fiction. The automatons in the story are things that actually existed during that time period (you can ask Sharon. It’s fascinating), and there’s no supernatural elements that defy scientific explanation.

What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang. This one always gets called Dystopian or Sci-Fi. But really, if you look close, it’s neither. It’s a modern alternate reality. So really, it doesn’t fit into any of the above categories. Broadly, it can go under the Speculative Fiction umbrella, but none of the other terms really fit. So there’s really little wonder why bookstores want to label it as something else.

Defiance by C.J. Redwine. This book is a cornucopia of so many genres, it’s easy to see why people can’t seem to label it. I’ve actually had a few discussions with C.J. about what to call this book, and even she is at a bit of a loss. I’ve heard it called Steampunk, Dystopian, Fantasy, and Sci-Fi. It’s marketed as Fantasy Adventure, but there’s no magic (although there is a blind wingless subterranean dragon). What it actually is, I believe, is a Post-Apocalyptic Adventure. I think.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I always see this book on the Horror shelf, and it’s just not. It’s not designed to scare or horrify. It’s about magical powers and adventure. It’s Fantasy.

How about you? Do you long to sneak into bookstores and reshelve the books to more accurately reflect what’s in them? Or do you figure, hey, I don’t care why someone picked up the book, as long as they’re reading it? What books do you see commonly misclassified, and do you care? 

Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (@KatieMcGarry @HarlequinTeen)

Received an advance digital copy from the publisher via NetGalley

If I’m not careful, I’m going to have to admit I like reading Contemporaries. Which just seems weird. I mean, I’m a fantasy/sci-fi gal. I like when things blow up and shoot lasers and travel through time and battle monsters. What is up with me liking books lately that are all about relatively normal high school students? I’m having a bookish identity crisis, people.

But with Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, I found yet another well-written and riveting contemporary that I simply could not put down. Really. I tried.

The Plot (from Goodreads)

“No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with “freaky” scars on her arms. Even Echo can’t remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo’s world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she’ll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.”

My Thoughts

Okay, the synopsis sounds hokey. Maybe you don’t think so, but I do. Bad boy reaches out to the popular girl so that she can learn to love again? Um, no. Truth be told, I’m not exactly sure why I requested this book, because I think the synopsis sounds hokey. But I’m glad I overcame that (for whatever reason), because it is not hokey.

From the first page, a counseling session between Echo, her father and stepmother, and her therapist, Mrs. Collins (who I LOVE, by the way), I was completely engrossed in this story. Echo is a complex and well-developed character, and we find out right from the beginning that she suffers from traumatic memory loss, that she deals with tremendous grief over the death of her brother, that she has all sorts of authority issues and trust issues, and that she’s smart. And unlike a lot of books that claim the main character is smart but the character never actually talks or thinks or acts like a smart person, Echo actually thinks intelligently. She’s logical. She’s quick. She’s witty. She made me like her, despite her myriad of issues and struggles.

Then you meet Noah, another case of Mrs. Collins. Noah has been in the foster system ever since his parents died in a fire after his freshman year of high school. Since then, he’s been labeled a “bad influence” and cut off from his young brothers. And while Noah is also a smart cookie, he reacts understandably — he decides to become the bad influence everyone thinks him to be, without really thinking through the consequences. As a reader, I could see that he wasn’t really doing himself any favors there, but Katie McGarry does a fantastic job getting inside Noah’s head so you can really understand how he became the way he is.

Partially through the interference of Mrs. Collins, Echo and Noah wind up thrown together, and although they aren’t each others’ biggest fans at first, they slowly grow to see all that they have in common, and ultimately get together (which I don’t consider a spoiler, since it’s on the cover).

However, unlike many other contemporary teen romances, the romance in Pushing the Limits is not the central focus of the book (Echo and Noah actually get together around the 50% point). Although my emotions were pulled every which way by the romance, the main focus is trying to get Echo and Noah to both cope with the trauma in their lives and move past it. Echo needs to remember what happened on that night two years ago when her mother senselessly attacked her. Noah has to come to terms with how he fits into the lives of his brothers, who he is only allowed to see rarely, and how to determine what is best for them. Both stories tackle difficult subject matter admirably (Noah’s scenes with his brothers made me cry on more than one occasion), and both resolved in a satisfying and realistic manner.

There’s a lot of secondary characters in the book, and while none are developed as thoroughly as Echo and Noah, they all had their own voices and personalities, and I loved reading about how the different relationships worked. My favorites were Noah’s foster brother Isaiah, and the aforementioned Mrs. Collins, who Katie McGarry somehow made me love even while viewing her through the eyes of Echo and Noah, neither of whom really liked her.

The narrative uses the alternating POVs of both Echo and Noah, and each had their own distinct voice. They thought completely differently, and even if their names were never mentioned in the narrative, I would have been able to follow who was speaking when. I thought it was a great use of dual POV, and I was fully invested in both characters.

There were times when some of the dialogue felt a bit forced, or some of the descriptions were a bit unrealistic. For example, according to Noah, Echo smells like hot cinnamon rolls all the time, and tastes like warm sugar. I get that maybe she’s really into the “Warm Vanilla Sugar” scent at Bath & Body Works (because seriously, it smells so good), but unless she’s constantly licking frosting (which she isn’t), I’m not sure how that scent is translating to taste for him.

And then there was Noah constantly referring to Echo as “my siren.” I get that he thought she was irresistible, but I kind of doubt a tattooed, stoner “bad boy” would actually think the words “my siren” every time he sees this girl. They’re minor things, but they took me out of the story just a tad.

That aside, I still really enjoyed this book. I didn’t intend to devour it the way I did, but I couldn’t stop reading. I only got 4 hours of sleep the night I finished it because my bedtime came and went and I couldn’t put the book down. If you’re a fan of contemporary romances that tackle some serious issues, I highly recommend Pushing the Limits.

Content guide: Contains profanity, mentions of child abuse, drug and alcohol use by minors, sexual situations

Review: The Selection by Kiera Cass (@kieracass @harperteen)

I knew I wanted to read The Selection by Kiera Cass the moment I saw the pretty, girly, fluffy cover. I mean seriously, how gorgeous is that? I heard it was a dystopian and would appeal to fans of The Hunger Games, but I also heard that it was solely a romance, with none of the crazy violent and suspenseful elements. And I wondered how on earth this book was appealing to fans of The Hunger Games if you took all that stuff out of the book.

So after finishing The Maze Runner, which gave me heart palpitations for a day, I figured The Selection would be a nice change of pace for me to calm down and rediscover happiness in the world.

Sometimes when you read nothing but dark and scary dystopians for two weeks, you need to rediscover happiness.

And let me tell you, this was just what the doctor ordered.

The Plot

America Singer is talented, poor, and in love. She is a Five in the caste system of Illéa, where Ones are royalty and Eights are pretty much on par with dirt and slugs. Her family of artists and musicians struggles to scrape by, having barely enough food and not much else. Her boyfriend, Aspen, is a Six, born into the serving class, and in even more dire circumstances than America. Their relationship is forbidden by law, so it must be kept secret, but they are happy.

However, all that changes when notices go out all over the kingdom that Prince Maxon is looking for a bride, and she will be picked via the Selection. All eligible girls may apply. 35 will be picked to go to the palace and compete for Prince Maxon’s hand. The families of the girls in the competition will be well compensated for their service to the monarchy.

America doesn’t want to apply, regardless of the incentive of extra food or her mother’s persistent nagging. But when Aspen tells her that he also wants her to apply, she finally gives in, knowing the odds are heavily stacked against her.

But against all odds, she is picked to participate in the Selection. And although she is determined not to fall for Maxon, she goes to the palace to compete, knowing each week she remains in the competition is another week of food on her family’s table. And once she meets Maxon, nothing is the way she thought it would be.

My Thoughts

This book was just fun. I really don’t understand the constant comparisons to The Hunger Games. Yes, they’re both dystopian, but The Selection is VASTLY different from The Hunger Games. America and Katniss are nothing alike, except that they’re both kind of socially awkward. There is no violence (except for a subplot involving rebels that keep attacking the castle for no reason the monarchy can understand). The families in the lower castes may go hungry, but the world doesn’t feel nearly as impoverished and depressing as the Districts of Panem. And while the losers of the Hunger Games die, the losers of the Selection go home to wed prominent businessmen and politicians.

So yeah. Not the same thing.

No, the pop culture phenomenon The Selection most closely resembles is The Bachelor. A bunch of pretty girls trying to win the hand/money (or in this case, crown) of a studly guy. There’s even camera crews and a weekly televised broadcast.

But whereas I can’t stand The Bachelor, I absolutely LOVED The Selection.

Beyond just the abundant prettiness (and there WAS abundant prettiness), this book just gave me happy fluttery feelings in my tummy. America was fun and feisty. Sometimes a bit dense, yes, but that’s when I had to remind myself (as I have to do often in YA books featuring female protagonists) that she is a teenage girl, and so it makes sense for her to be a bit dense.

Prince Maxon was sweet and charming and I’ve got to say, I know the whole point of the book was that America has two viable options in Aspen vs. Maxon, but I am Team Maxon all the way [I can’t believe I just said that]. Aspen is stoic and intense and responsible and B-O-R-I-N-G. Granted, we don’t have nearly as much time to get to know him as Maxon, and most of our perception of him is through America’s lovesick and swoony eyes, so I will try not to be too disappointed if she runs back to him in Book 2. But I sincerely hope that Maxon is the victor.

There is a brief attempt to explain how the country of Illéa came to be, although the caste systems are never explained. Maybe in Book 2? I found the explanation reasonable enough. I know there are others out there saying they didn’t buy or understand it, but in the context of the story, and especially since America is narrating in first person and she herself doesn’t fully understand it all, I thought it was fine.

And while there’s very little action or nail-biting suspense in this book (unless you consider a will-they-or-won’t-they romance nail-biting suspense), I still found myself completely enthralled in the beauty of the Palace, the developing relationship between America and Maxon, and the tentative friendships between the girls in the Selection.

The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was the ending. I wanted there to be MORE. Even though I knew it was going to end without resolving a lot of things (since my friend who loaned me the book warned me of as much), I was still sad and surprised when I hit the last page and still had questions. There’s a lot of subplots (and main plots) left hanging at the end. Consider yourself warned.

I think The Selection isn’t so much for Hunger Games fans (although I am a Hunger Games fan) as it is for fans of stories like The Princess Diaries or anything by Jane Austen. Or, obviously, fans of The Bachelor. It’s a fun, sweet, and highly entertaining romance, and the future dystopian setting adds some interest and uniqueness. I enjoyed it immensely.

Content guide: Contains mentions of sex, mild amorous activity, mentions of violence.

Author Interview: Myra McEntire (@myramcentire)


From about an hour after I started reading Hourglass, Myra McEntire’s debut novel, I knew I had discovered a new “favorite author.” And after finishing its sequel, Timepiece, it was confirmed: I must read anything and everything Myra McEntire writes. Immediately.

Then I was privileged to attend an author event with Myra and Amy Plum, and guys, Myra is hilarious. She had me (and the rest of the audience) in stitches most of the time. Sadly, my camera ate my picture of the two of us together, so I guess I’m just going to have to go to one of her future events to get another photo.

DARN. *blatant sarcasm*

Or I could do as my husband suggests and try to worm my way into her personal life since we live in the same city (His logic: “Don’t famous people have normal friends sometimes?”) but as I don’t actually want to be a crazy psycho-stalker, I’ll just continue to read her books and attend her events and bug her on Twitter.

So as a treat for you today, and to celebrate the upcoming release of Timepiece (June 12, 2012!), I have the joy of treating you to my interview with Myra! Yay! In it, we discuss Hourglass, Timepiece, her third book [which Myra recently announced will be titled Infinityglass], and random trivia about Myra. Enjoy!

 

I think by now, we all know what your books are about. I’ve summarized and reviewed each book on my site, plus you go into detail on your site. But if you wouldn’t mind, because I have a 6-year-old and I think 6-year-olds are hilarious, would you ask your 6-year-old to tell us what your books are about?

Hourglasses. (Hee!)

[NOTE FROM LAUREN: I guess I was asking for that! My 6-year-old is also always extremely brief when I wish she would be verbose, and verbose when I wish she was brief.]

How did you come up with the idea for Hourglass?

I visited a writer’s group and had a really silly name prompt for a character. I wrote the required pages and thought it was over, but I had niggling questions that wouldn’t allow me to let the story go!

How do you come up with names for your characters? And did you happen to name Emerson Cole after the character of Cole in The Sixth Sense (the kid who sees dead people)?

Emerson is named after Ralph Waldo. You’ll see quotes from him at the beginning of my Hourglass books. And I did NOT, but I am stealing that idea now. Thank you.

The plotlines for Hourglass and Timepiece are both really complex. How did you keep track of everything?

I have multiple spiral notebooks, and I also do a lot of searching through my manuscripts on my computer.

Kaleb has his own love interest in Timepiece (who I completely adored), but did you ever consider making a love triangle between Kaleb, Emerson, and Michael? The building blocks are there in Hourglass… (P.S. Thank you so much for not making it a love triangle).

Kaleb and Emerson would give new meaning to the words “Hot Mess.” They were never intended for each other, and the person Kaleb ends up with was meant for him from the very first baby draft of Hourglass.

Timepiece ends with a huge new development. What can you tell us about the next book? Will there be a new narrator?

There are at least two or three more Hourglass books in my mind. They all have different voices.

How long have you been writing?

Always, but for publication since 2008.

How did you find your agent?

I went the traditional route. Wrote a book, polished it, and queried.

What was your reaction when you got your book deal?

I am not a huge reactor. Mostly I was like, “ Huh. That just happened. “

What advice would you give an aspiring writer?

Read, write and be stubborn.

What’s your solution to writer’s block?

Keep going. You can’t fix an empty page. I also recommend routine tasks like folding laundry or doing dishes.

What’s next for you after the Hourglass series comes to a close? You know, if that ever happens…which I kinda hope it doesn’t.

I’m halfway finished with another project, and I’m totally in love with it. I can’t tell you anything else, except it’s very different!

If the Hourglass movie gets made (and I REALLY hope it does), who would you cast to play Emerson, Michael and Kaleb? (And any of the other characters, if you have them cast in your brain?)

(This is an exclusive post for my blog tour!)

[NOTE FROM LAUREN: I tried, and failed, to get in on this blog tour. Maybe Infinityglass?]

What’s your favorite thing about living in Nashville?

I love the pastureland. It’s so gorgeous on some of these country backroads!

Who is your celebrity doppelganger?

Rob Pattinson. Errr ….

 

 

 

 

 

[NOTE FROM LAUREN: I’m not seeing it, Myra. For what it’s worth, I’d say she resembles a young Meryl Streep. Yes?]

What is your ideal vacation?

Right now, I just want the beach.

Favorite ice cream flavor?

Coffee.

Favorite caffeinated beverage?

Coffee.

Favorite candy bar?

Coffee. Oh wait. Sea salt dark chocolate.

Favorite pizza toppings?

Veggies!

Favorite chick flick? Action movie?

Tangled (I always stop and watch it), and X-Men.

Favorite time travel story (that you didn’t write)?

Any Doctor Who anytime anywhere.

What are your 5 “desert island” books?

Bible, Wizard of Oz, all the Harry Potters (obvs I’m taking more than five).

[NOTE FROM LAUREN: Cheater.]

 

Thanks so much for talking with me Myra! I can’t wait to purchase my copy of Timepiece, and I’m probably going to need therapy or something to help me get through the next year until Infinityglass is released.

If you’re interested in my in-depth opinions on Myra’s books, here they are:

My review of Hourglass

My review of Timepiece

If you’d like to learn more about Myra, buy her book, or just bask in her awesomeness, here’s some ways to help with that:

Purchase Hourglass

Purchase Timepiece (releasing June 12, 2012)

Myra’s Website

Follow Myra on Twitter

Find Myra on Facebook

Teaser Review: Defiance by C.J. Redwine

I am going to an author event tonight with Myra McEntire, Amy Plum, and C.J. Redwine. I could NOT be more excited about it. I have read and loved both of Ms. McEntire’s books (Hourglass, Timepiece) and read and enjoyed the first of Ms. Plum’s books (Die for Me, Until I Die). I actually won copies of both Revenants books in a HarperTeen giveaway, which is really exciting, but I won’t have them for the signing tonight. Sad 🙁 Hopefully she’ll have bookmarks or something I can ask her to sign. I do have my paperback copy of Hourglass all ready for a signature, though!

The third was a little trickier, since C.J. Redwine is a debut author, and her book Defiance won’t be out until August 28. I really wanted to read her book before meeting her (even though I knew most people at the signing would not have read it), so I figured I should at least attempt to get my hands on a copy. First, I emailed C.J. herself, since she is a Nashville author and I live in Nashville. She was extremely kind and gracious, and offered to lend me an ARC to read before the signing. But of course, she was also working hard on the sequel to Defiance and up against a deadline, so it was going to be tricky to meet up.

Plus, she has no way of knowing I’m not a psycho-stalker. I mean, I’m not, but you never know about people you meet on the Internet.

However, in a funny twist of fate, after finishing Hourglass I read the acknowledgments, and realized I knew Myra McEntire’s agent. We went to college together. And upon further investigation, I realized she also represented C.J. Redwine. So I sent her a Facebook message, and lickety-split, she popped an ARC of Defiance in the mail for me.

Well, not quite lickety-split. She had to go to Utah first. Because she’s a big-time book agent who gets sent to Utah for the weekend. But she mailed the book (along with a couple other surprises!) out the day she got back. Because she is awesome.

I on the other hand, was sent to two birthday parties last weekend, by my children. And trust me, that was enough. I’m not cut out for the big time.

So to make a long story….slightly less long, Defiance arrived on Saturday. I didn’t tear into it immediately (I had promised my husband a movie night, and we watched Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and it was fun and action-packed and exciting), but my Mother’s Day request was that my husband watch the kids so I could read Defiance. And it’s a good thing I had an excuse to read all afternoon, because I could not put it down.

Since Defiance will not be released until August 28, I will be posting a full review (along with an author interview!) closer to release. But I just wanted to post a bit of a teaser, in case you have a chance to get your hands on an advance copy and wonder if it’s worth your time, or if you’re considering pre-ordering a copy and wonder if it’s worth your money.

Just to be clear: it is.

The Plot: I usually write my own summaries, but this one has such a complex plot, I don’t know how to summarize it in a concise manner. So this is the synopsis from Goodreads:

“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.”

My Thoughts, In a Nutshell: This book was amazing and fantastic and fantastically amazing. It took me a couple chapters to get into the writing style, just because it’s a tad more detailed than lots of other YA books I’ve been reading lately. But once I adjusted, I was hooked.

Defiance is absolutely chock-full of action, suspense, tingly romance, bitter heartbreak. The setting is unique and intriguing – kind of medieval-meets-steampunk-meets-fantasy. There are monsters and gadgets and swords and dungeons.

I literally gasped and cried and hunched up in a ball because it was just making me feel ALL THE FEELINGS during parts of this book. And normally, I am a pretty stoic reader.

The characters are incredible (Rachel and Logan immediately became one of my favorite fictional couples), the writing is vivid, and the story is intricate and beautiful. I don’t want to say much more, because this is just a teaser review, and if I’m not careful it’s going to turn into a full-blown all-out Review.

Suffice it to say, I loved this book. If you have a chance to read it, or if it’s within your means to buy it, do it. You’ll be glad you did.