Defiance by C.J. Redwine. The Defiance Series, #1.
My copy: Balzer + Bray, 2012. Hardcover, 403 pages.
Defiance by C. J. Redwine is rich postapocalyptic YA fantasy perfect for fans of Graceling and Tamora Pierce.
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.
C. J. Redwine’s Defiance has a very dystopian feel to it, even though it’s fantasy. The city of Baalboden has technology for tracking devices and such, but the people live almost in renaissance times, as they use swords and drive wagons. The vibe I got from it was like an alternate Earth that went both forward and backward in ideas. The world was foreboding, with little happiness. Defiance is a dark story, filled with murder, blackmail, revenge, unjust and harsh laws, and a beast called the Cursed One that causes massive destruction wherever it appears. I didn’t expect the plot to include a beast, though I did definitely enjoy the nice surprise because I am a sucker for (this isn’t really a spoiler because as soon as the beast is described very early on in the book during the only explanation of world back story, it’s so obvious what it is) dragons!
Rachel Adams is made Logan McEntire’s ward after her father, Jared, disappears. She and Logan, who was Jared’s apprentice, have an awkward relationship due to a foolish proclamation she made to him two years ago: she told him she was in love with him. Obviously, he turned her down. Anyway, both Rachel and Logan believe that her father isn’t dead. They find out from the city’s Commander that Jared Adams has stolen a package from the city of Rowansmark–a package that many will seek out using any means possible.
The Commander is absolutely sadistic. He implements the harshest laws that always seem to put women down (they don’t have as many years of schooling as the men, and they are publicly flogged and even killed if they are seen in the Market without their Protector, their male caretaker) or make them things men can “win” or “own” (as in the case of the whole legal ward thing, as well as the Claiming where bachelors claim women as their future wives). The Commander also kills ruthlessly, just to keep people under his thumb. The people of Baalboden live in fear of the horrible things the Commander is capable of. But there are, of course, a number of citizens who don’t want to be controlled anymore by their evil Commander. The rebels are not a focus of Defiance at all. The main focus is Rachel and Logan’s quest to find her father in the Wastelands and find the mysterious package before other power-hungry people do. The Wasteland was actually very creepy–the whole sequence when the story moves to the land outside the city walls was disturbing and spine-chilling, even if it was a slower part of the book.
I liked Rachel and Logan’s relationship throughout the book. They start off barely being able to speak to each other because of their embarrassment from two years ago. But when they realize they both want to and have individual plans to go after Jared, they form a solid friendship and work together. Through their new partnership they realize they have romantic feelings for each other, different and more mature feelings than the ones they felt when they were younger. It wasn’t insta-love, which was refreshing. I also really liked the two of them together: they balanced each other out. Rachel’s anger made her impulsive while Logan’s smarts made him a meticulous planner. I think I preferred Logan’s character over Rachel’s, as Rachel’s grief leads her to seeking out revenge. She acts stupidly because she’s angry, rage blinding her judgment. Prime example: she sneaks to the Market without Logan, her Protector, fully knowing that if she is caught, she could be executed. I mean, come on! I dislike characters who act stupidly about things that are glaringly stupid. Also, even though I preferred Logan, I did get tired of his constant “best case” and “worst case” scenarios. I know it was supposed to make his voice different from Rachel’s, but it got very repetitive after the first time. Oh, yeah, did I mention that Defiance is told in dual perspective?
The supporting characters were very different, and I liked that. Oliver is actually the person everyone thought Jared would appoint as his daughter’s ward, a wonderful, sweet man who loves Rachel like a granddaughter. I correctly guessed his character’s plot way before things happened. Then there is Melkin, an interesting man I would have liked to get to know better who is controlled by the Commander through blackmail (just about everyone is controlled via blackmail, it seems), and whose demeanor changes as things get more desperate. There were a few more characters, but none of them had much to do except give information dumps or drop clues.
Defiance is a gripping, fast-paced novel that I really enjoyed. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the big reveal. It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, but it did make sense after all the buildup. The climax was pretty epic, though! I think C. J. Redwine did a very good job at creating a story that pulled me in for the whole ride. ♦
Have you read Defiance?
If you haven’t, would you be interested to?
Comment below letting me know!