December 24, 2014

REVIEW: Deception (The Courier's Daughter #2)

Deception (The Courier's Daughter #2), by C. J. Redwine
Published August 27, 2013
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Format: ARC, obtained in trade
Genre: young adult dystopian romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 4 STARS

(From Goodreads) Baalboden has been ravaged. The brutal Commander's whereabouts are unknown. And Rachel, grief stricken over her father's death, needs Logan more than ever. With their ragged group of survivors struggling to forge a future, it's up to Logan to become the leader they need—with Rachel by his side. Under constant threat from rival Carrington's army, who is after the device that controls the Cursed One, the group decides to abandon the ruins of their home and take their chances in the Wasteland.

But soon their problems intensify tenfold: someone—possibly inside their ranks—is sabotaging the survivors, picking them off one by one. The chaos and uncertainty of each day puts unbearable strain on Rachel and Logan, and it isn't long before they feel their love splintering. Even worse, as it becomes clear that the Commander will stop at nothing to destroy them, the band of survivors begins to question whether the price of freedom may be too great—and whether, hunted by their enemies and the murderous traitor in their midst, they can make it out of the Wasteland alive.

In this daring sequel to Defiance, with the world they once loved forever destroyed, Rachel and Logan must decide between a life on the run and standing their ground to fight.

The tone of Deception is totally different from Defiance. It's much darker and sadder than the first one. And, if you've read the first book in this series, you know that's really saying something. The whole series seems to have a somber air to it, but this middle book in the series is different. There's less action than in the first book, and instead the focus has shifted inward as both Rachel and Logan try to come to terms with all that has happened to them. 

In the beginning, the surviving Baalboden refugees who submit to Logan's leadership decide to make the trek across the Wasteland to Lankenshire, a nearby city-state. The trip is fraught with disaster as they have to deal with attacks from the Cursed One, Rowansmark trackers, and the Commander and his army. In addition, it soon becomes clear that there's a mole in their midst, determined to bring the group down from the inside. Logan and Rachel and their friends try and figure out who the traitor is, while battling their internal demons. 

This series is truly EPIC. The world building is incredible, and in Deception, we get to see more of this world in which Rachel and Logan live. They take many weeks to travel with their crew through the Wasteland, and I found it easy to forget that this story actually takes place in the future. They travel by foot, wagon and horseback. They fight with swords and bows and arrows. And, the crazy cool thing is, during down times, Logan is playing with wires and batteries as he tries to revise and perfect Rowansmark's device that calls the Cursed One. It's like the past mixing with the present.

The Rachel we met in the first book always was very serious. But, she had some lighter moments, and those usually involved Logan. In Deception, they've made their feelings known, so there's no hiding that. But, with all Rachel has lost and with the truly intense and burning fury she feels toward the Commander since hers and Logan's losses are directly thanks to him, she becomes incredibly consumed with her yearning for revenge. 

The vengeful Rachel was very frustrating. She shut everyone out, including the love of her life. She was so focused on her anger and her desire to exact brutal revenge on the Commander, that she lost sight of what was really important. I didn't like this version of Rachel nearly as much. She was still a fierce warrior and totally brave, but she also made me mad every time she had a chance to open up to Logan, and she didn't take it. 

Logan was infinitely patient with Rachel. He was dealing with so much already - to have to deal with his moody girlfriend was something he didn't need. But, he handled her with care and love, and I fell in love with him even more because of it. 

Outside of Rachel's and Logan's relationship drama, we spent the entire book trying to figure out who the mole in the group was. The horrible things that this person did to the other members of the group were absolutely shocking and horrific. I was so angry that it kept happening to these poor people who had been through so much already. I couldn't wait for them to find out who it was so that they could absolutely flay that person. 

We do find out who it is by the end, and it did keep me guessing, which I loved. The ending was explosive and action packed. While the middle of the book tended to drag a bit with the lack of action and the broody Rachel stomping about all over the place, the ending was one exciting event after the other. There were some wildly unexpected revelations, a battle, a kidnapping - I didn't want it to end. But, all the stuff at the end most definitely made me eager for the final book in the series.  

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