Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Review: Defiance by C.J. Redwine

Review: Defiance by C.J. Redwine
Rating: ★★★★★

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.

I loved this book. It’s full of feeling and action. In some moments, it’s great fun, and the next it punches you in the gut.

I really felt the strength of both Rachel and Logan’s devotion to Jared. Their motives are understandable. Their world is interesting. How these character are affected and shaped by the oppressive, brutal world they live in- how it strengthens Rachel’s stubbornness and Logan’s hate, but also lends to make him careful. He’s suffered the consequences of breaking the laws of Baalboden (sidenote: the only thing in the whole book I disliked was this word. But that is seriously a minor complaint) and he’s loathe to go against them again without having a perfect plan in place.

I adored the shifts in POV, from Rachel to Logan. Sometimes wary of that, especially when dealing with a male POV, but Logan feels authentic and deep and I loved him right away. He actually made me laugh in places, which I wasn’t expecting in a story with such a serious tone. And the POV switches feel necessary. Logan and Rachel frequently misunderstand each other, which I love. The story is fully fleshed out by the reader’s ability to be in both their heads. There’s a well-drawn conflict between her grit and fire and his careful planning.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Review: What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

Review: What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang
Rating: ★★★★★

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t…

For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable–hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet…for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

What’s Left of Me is a book that took me completely by surprise. I found the concept so original and compelling that I was almost worried my expectations could not be met. The beginning is a bit slow, mostly because of some very necessary world-building. But the relationships- particularly the one between Addie and Eva- are so unique, heartbreaking, deep, and real that I found myself sucked in. The central dynamic of hybridism is fascinating. I adored the way Kat Zhang dove into the complexities of sharing a body with a twin soul, and how it was reflected in the gorgeous prose in a slow shift from Addie to we and then to I. The romance feels true and actually made my heart flutter in places, though the romance never dominated the story. The balance is kept, and the romance only serves to enhance the central issues and plot.