Title: Defiance (Defiance #1)
Author: C.J. Redwine
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Summary: Defiance by C. J. Redwine is rich postapocalyptic YA fantasy perfect for fans of Graceling and Tamora Pierce.
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.
Rachel is our heroine in this book, although the book did bounce between her and Logan’s POV. But Rachel is living in a city where women aren’t allowed to go anywhere without their male Protector, are Claimed by a man that their Protector chooses once they are old enough, and are basically treated like property. Luckily for her though, her father never agreed with that and raised her to fight and track and be strong. So when he doesn’t turn up after leaving the city, she decides to go after him. Normally, I can love some spunk in a heroine, but Rachel just frustrated me because she never really stopped to think. She is smart, the author shows that, but she constantly just rushed in, knife out and ready to wreck some stuff, then constantly ended up in bad situations. It was beyond frustrating and made me want to punch her in the face. I don’t like when it feels like the girl has a brain, but just won’t use it because she needs to look tough and fiery. Immediately, I realized that there would be no hope for her breaking out of that cookie-cutter fiery red-headed, badass fighter girl sterotype that we have all come to know and love. I just gagged a little.
Then we have Logan, Rachel’s new Protector, who was actually the best part of the book for me. He was smart and constantly inventing new things and analyzing situations and figuring the best path to take and I really liked that and being able to see his thought process in his POV. But the problem I had with him was that he didn’t have many layers. We see that he is smart and inventive and brave and an amazing fighter, and this whole slew of great qualities, but we never really delve deeper to see how he got to that point. I wanted to see his journey and see the layers underneath, but the author basically throws this perfect guy at us, then just leaves it at that.
Defiance is considered a post apocalyptic book, so it takes place some time in the future, after a series of disasters have happened. But that aspect was really hard to pick up on because this book was really just a weird mash of medieval fantasy, with weird futuristic aspects mixed in. It was almost confusing right from the start, because reading the summary, I didn’t understand why their names were just Rachel and Logan, two of the most common names now, when this book sounded like medieval fantasy. But once I read that it was actually taking place sometime in the future, I was only more confused. Through-out this book, the people live basically like they are in a medieval times city, using knifes and donkeys and carts, wearing tunics and things. But then, random advanced technology can be found through the whole book, seemingly put in whenever the author felt like it. Those two different worlds she was trying to bring together didn’t really mesh, making the whole thing rather confusing.
And we have the whole thing where women in this book are treated like slaves. Girls are assigned Protectors and can’t go anywhere without them, can’t speak from themselves, aren’t allowed to go to school as long as the boys, and are basically just pretty slaves. I found this to be an interesting idea, since our character is headstrong and I wanted to see her struggle with this. But because her father didn’t treat her that way, it never really felt like an issue to her, it was just something that she didn’t really have to put up with so it never felt that important in the book. I wanted it to feel important and I wanted her to rebel against that, and for Logan to recognize it was wrong. And while Logan obviously knew Rachel could take care of herself and didn’t make her act like an obedient slave unless it was absolutely necessary, he never really addressed the fact that he felt the whole situation was wrong. I was disappointed by the lack of attention that this issue got.
Also, the explanation as to how the human raced ended up like that, living in the city in a post apocalyptic world, was rushed at best. Basically, we find out that some jerk mined way down into the earth, awoke these “Cursed Ones”, which are basically like big fire-breathing worms, and they destroy most of the world. Baalboden, the city Rachel lives in, is run by the Commander, a man who tried to destroy the Cursed Ones when they first emerged and failed. So now he runs this city with an iron fist and somehow keeps the monster at bay. That’s all we get. There is absolutely no world-building in this book and it drove me crazy. And I realize, maybe we learn nothing because the main characters have been kept in the dark and know nothing too, but my god, give us a little more than that!
The one thing that I actually did kind of like was the romance in this book, which I was surprised by. I think I liked it because Logan and Rachel already had a pre-established relationship. They grew up together and were friends, then awkward friends after young, smitten Rachel declared her love for Logan and was turned down. But I liked how the author brought up things in their past and really showed the connection they had after all the years of growing up together. There was really a sense of knowing between the two and understanding who they were. So watching them take that final step, while it was cliche and a bit rushed through this book, was much more satisfying that the normal insta-love scenario we usually get.
Really, I’m making this book sound absolutely terrible, but it was still a fairly fun read and I was pretty absorbed in it. I have to say, the author didn’t really go where I kept expecting her to. Rachel and Logan would think of these big plans, have a back up plan, then everything would go south and the Commander would managed to do the one thing that would simultaneously screw up their original and back up plan. It was kind of fun at first that they had to scramble and were forced to make tough decision, but after like the third time it happened (yeah, I’m being serious) I just got annoyed that genius Logan who thought of every single outcome of every situation, apparently couldn’t even come up with a decent plan.
Over all, I liked the characters okay but they weren’t the best since they were both pretty one dimension and fell right into the stereotype you toss them into at the beginning. The plot itself was really fast paced and kept my interest, but the world as a whole had some major issues and it was hard to ignore them. Still, I will probably check out the second book, just to see if we do get some answers and more world-building, and hey, maybe even a reason as to why the villian is so evil… but maybe I shouldn’t get my hopes up.