Defiance by C.J. Redwine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city's brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses 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 one who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but a 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.
An ARC of this book was sent to me from HarperCollins through Edelweiss.
Meet the characters:
See the cover? That's freaking Rachel Adams. With her fiery red hair, skin-tight pants and billowing cloak.
Behind her is not a weird looking kitchen, but the Wasteland, infested with wingless dragon-like creature known as The Cursed One.
If you fall for this book for its cover, I can say that you'll get what you bargained for because not only the cover fits the story perfectly...
...Rachel, beyond the cover is one helluva character.
If you liked Katsa from Graceling, you might adore Rachel as well. I did fancy her most of the time especially when she had the gut to tell Logan about her feelings for him when she was just 15 years old. Well, majority of YA heroines' logic dictates that when a girl likes a guy, do nothing about it and expect him to magically know and make the first move.
Anyhow, I actually disliked Rachel's attitudes after Logan gently rejected her. 'Not that I care about his this and his that'. Of course everyone hates rejection but I would like her more if she handled herself with more grace and less ego around Logan.
As much as everything about Rachel's skill and exterior from swinging her Switch and knives to leaping from trees to trees exudes badassery, I did yearn for more dynamic inner personalities. I don't want her to be an exact replica of Katniss from The Hunger Games or Penryn from Angelfall, but she would have saved herself from a lot of troubles if she could use more of thinking with a clear mind than with a fueled rage.
Logan. Or as I would call him Logan and his ribcage (I'll explain later). One of the quotes from his POV;
"My body doesn't agree with my theory, so I force myself to recite the Periodic Table to give myself something productive to focus on."
Periodic Table, you say? I think you might have just unleashed my inner nerdiness.
Damn you, Logan! Damn you and all your techs!
Oh yeah, somehow Logan managed to spend half of his POVs, describing his ribcage.
"...as one guard's booted foot slams into my ribcage and sends me sprawling."
"...keep from pressing my lungs against my ribcage with too much force..."
"I'd laugh if it wouldn't hurt my ribcage."
"...send sharp jabs of agony into my ribcage..."
"I rewrap my ribcage and stuff additional supplies in my pack."
"...down the tree starts a fire in my ribcage."
"...of something other than the fire in my ribcage and my fear for Rachel."
"Every leap strains my ribcage."
"...but the pain and weakness in my ribcage would've made that too time intensive."
"Pain explodes through my ribcage on impact..."
"We dive for the ground, and my ribcage screams at me as searing heat rolls over..."
Look, it's okay for the author to keep track of the character's injury. Nothing worse than watching an action flick with the hero magically recovers from a bullet wound on the shoulder and suddenly able to lift 100 kilos of weight and slam it down onto the villain.
But, I would appreciate if the author would've done it more subtly. I almost wished Logan would talk about his testicles instead.
Other than that, Logan is probably one of the best-written male protagonists I came across so far in my short life as an avid YAs reader. He treats Rachel with respect and trust. He is resourceful and not easily overcomes by emotions.
However, at certain points, I did question his plans because it seemed like eventhough he always assess a situation carefully, noting the best case scenario and the worst case scenario, at the end, there were just too many plans that backfired. Sure, Rachel is to be blamed for some of them but somehow I missed the part where the antagonist, the Commander found out about his plans and intercepted them. By what means when Logan claimed he had attended to all the loose ends.
I think the real culprit here was the writing itself. C.J. Redwine successfully offers multiple heart-wrenching moments and adrenaline-inducing confrontations but the built ups were almost always not-smoothly written.
This problem gets more serious towards the end where I had several 'huh?' moments. I really wished the ending was more tight and believable. It was as if the author got tired halfway through the book and suddenly received a divine idea of how she should end this book. And wrote the gap between these two parts a month later where she barely remembered how did she wrote the earlier parts anyway.
So yeah, some of the prose were indeed beautiful...
"My eyes scape over canvas tents anchored to the ground with iron pegs, linger in the shadows between the rough-hewn stalls, and finally catch a diamond-bright shard of sunlight kissing the silver of a sword"
...but the writing was simply inconsistent throughout the book.
Okay, now to the biggest confusion. Is this truly a dystopian? I could somewhat shelve this under steampunk or high-fantasy and it would still make sense. Of course we have cutting edge technology like the tracking device but what actually happened to all the firearms and artillery after the Cursed Ones are unleashed? The creature just incinerate everything on its path, but what does it eat anyway? How did it live underground all these time before it was unleashed?
"As a last-ditch effort, the government on our continent sent all they had left-a team of young, inexperienced soldiers and a handful of geologist-down into the bowels of the earth to seal our beast back into its lair. The team, lead by Commander Chase failed, and when the surviving members returned to the surface, the was no government. No law and order. Nothing but panic, fire and one surviving monster systematically killing the survivors"
Well, that's it? It sounds too convenient for my liking. Of course, there are more than meets the eyes but I would like to know more about the other continents and did they do anything to help.
Finally, I did expect more fluid dialogues between the characters. With Rachel and Logan love-hate relationship, there were many rooms for great comebacks but sadly, the author did not see to that. Otherwise, it will certainly add colours to their characters.
Nevertheless, the author excelled in providing in depth descriptions especially when it revolves around the weapon used and the ongoing duels.
"The Switch is one of Logan's more useful inventions. It looks like a solid wooden walking staff, but one end is weighted enough to crush a man's skull, and the other conceals a spring=loaded double-edged blade. Iy takes hours of work before I can balance the heavier end, swing it like a mallet and knock Bob, our practice dummy."
While none of the characters except Logan made it to my list of favourite characters of all times, ***Spoilers ahead*** I felt for every causality; Logan's mom, Oliver, Jared, and Melkin. It's depressing that it felt like Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows and Mockingjay all over again because I do feel some of the deaths are unnecessary.
View all my reviews