December 5, 2014

REVIEW: Defiance (Defiance #1)

Defiance (Defiance #1), by C.J. Redwine
Published August 28, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Format: paperback, purchased
Genre: young adult dystopian/postapocalyptic
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(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.

It's been awhile since I read a good dystopian book. I had an open spot in my review schedule for me to read whatever I wanted. I had too many choices, though! You know the feeling - you stand in front of your bookshelf looking at all the books you own but haven't read yet, and you realize it's impossible to pick one. That was me. I decided it would come down to cover design, which brought me to Defiance. The cover is gorgeous, right? As it turns out, I can judge a book by it's cover. The cover is amazing... the book is amazing. 

Defiance takes place sometime in the future. Big business, in their search for more natural resources, drilled down so deep into the Earth's surface, they awakened several dragon-like beasts that rose up and destroyed most of the population and sent the world back into the dark ages. All but one of the beasts was destroyed by a team of nine soldiers, who later went on to each form their own city-state. The city of Baalboden is lead by the ruthless Commander who keeps the women illiterate and subservient to their "protectors" and then to their husbands. 

Rachel's father secretly raised her to be more than that, but when he goes missing and is declared dead, she is given to her father's apprentice, Logan. She loves/hates him, so it's a difficult situation to now have to answer to him. Except that pairing up with Logan ends up being the best thing for both of them since he doesn't believe Rachel's father is dead either. Through a very circuitous route, both Rachel and Logan escape Baalboden's wall in search of her father. What they find is something far worse and with far reaching implications. 

I haven't read a book this exciting in a really long time. I was literally hooked from the very first page. The action throughout the entire book was off the charts. There were battles and fighting and secret plots - it was so awesome! I loved the addition of the beast, or "The Cursed One." to the story too. It added a fantasy type element to the book that was unique and exciting. You never knew when the beast would pop up and start destroying stuff. It made it seem like bad guys were always right around the corner.

And, I guess they really were. The Commander was one of the worst villains I've experienced. It appears that the next city-state over is also an evil empire. And, then there's The Cursed One. Not to mention the random trackers and highwaymen that Rachel and Logan encounter in the Wasteland. Friends are hard to come by in this book. And if you have friends, chances are, you'll lose them at some point. 

There are deaths in Defiance, and they are not pretty. Sometimes in YA books, authors paint issues like violent death with a weak brush, but not C.J. Redwine. Oh no - she faces death head on and doesn't pull any punches. It's there, it's scary and violent, and it's very necessary to the story. I loved that about Defiance. 

I can't talk about Defiance without talking about the romance. So often in post-apocalyptic books, the romance (if there even is any) takes a back seat to the larger plot. This isn't the case in Defiance. It's clear from the start that Rachel's and Logan's relationship is going to play a very important role. At first, Rachel was furious with Logan because of something that happened two years earlier. But, as they start losing the people they care about, they realize that they are all each other has. And, that's not a bad thing. 

Logan is smart, logical, and brave. He's a born leader and it doesn't take him long to realize that he's desperately in love with Rachel. Logan is a sexy nerd, and I love that about him. Rachel is the one the book's title talks about. She is the embodiment of defiant. she is nothing like the other girls in her city-state, and she embraces that fact. When things go to hell, revenge becomes her driving force. Guilt and remorse and fury spur her to action, but those feelings slowly eat away at the lively girl she once was and leave a hardened shell. Logan's love is the only anchor she has to her humanity. That was hard to read. I loved Rachel the way she was in the beginning, but the Rachel at the end was tough to love. 

As you read, you find out that there is so much more going on than what meets the eye. Those secrets coupled with the explosive and exciting ending spurred me on to the second book in the series immediately. It's clear there's so much more story to tell yet, and I can't wait to experience it all.


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