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.

And I really, really love the relationship between Rachel and Logan. From the very beginning. It feels original and real and is intensely romantic. Rachel is a truly wonderful heroine defined by courage and passion. Her emotions run so deep and burn so hot that you get caught up with them. You find yourself feeling braver and angrier and more loyal than you were before. Her grief and her guilt are so strong you feel sick. And even when she turns brutal in a way you almost can’t identify with, somehow, you do. You’re still with her.

The narrative is engaging from the get-go. I read this on tenterhooks, fingers clenched. I felt anxious about what would happen. What would befall the characters. I wanted to know more about the twisted, sexist world they find themselves in. The big reveals- particularly the big reveal- all took me by surprise and left me breathless.

I felt, about a quarter of the way through, that I needed to know more about the everyday life of Rachel, her friends, and other people in Baalboden besides her and Logan. But that information came, and I found myself grateful for the slower drip rather than a dump. I was able to absorb more about the world of the story that way.

The language is beautiful. It stood out to me in a way language does not usually do in YA literature. It wasn’t overly flowery, the word choices were spot on, and many descriptions I actually jotted down for future perusal.

And I stayed up till about one in the morning to read this. In one day. For the record.

I really need to start reading some crappier books if I want to get some sleep.