Monday, September 3, 2012

Book Review: Defiance by C. J. Redwine

Defiance by C. J. Redwine
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Balzer + Bray 
Pages: 416
Received: ARC from publisher, via Edelweiss
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars


From Goodreads:

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.


Two people talking!

Mostly this was ok. It was nice getting to see the story from both points of view, and given how events transpire, I really appreciated that I wasn't cut out of the action like I would have been if there was only one POV. I also can't really choose whose voice I would want to see cut, because I liked having both of them there.

Buutt, how did it score on the Who's Talking Test? Eh, ok. Logan runs a lot of "best case/worst case scenarios" in his head, and while that kind of got a little annoying after a while, it was a great indicator that he was the narrator in that scene (which, really, that's not the best indicator).

Their voices were pretty similar but there was something about their personalities that mostly came through even if they were using similar words. Still though, there were a few times were I couldn't tell who was speaking without plot clues to help me out.

Although, if the character was doing something stupid, that was a clear sign that it was Rachel I was reading about.

Rachel is Dawn

Remember in Buffy season seven (or was it six?) when the tv show people briefly tried to convince us that Dawn wasn't an annoying Skipper doll anymore and she was now a full-fledged Barbie, complete with awesomely blown-out hair and trendy clothes?

Well, I wasn't buying it. And, ok, maybe once or twice I thought to myself that I wish my hair had bounce like Dawn's, but I never admitted that out loud and as soon as she opened her whiny kid-sister mouth the illusion was shattered and she went straight back to the land of the flat-footed Skipper.

That's Rachel. 

Look, I totally GET where she's coming from with wanting to find her missing dad and all. And on an emotional level, I've got her back. But reading about her? Oh please, her schtick got old quick.

She kept rushing head-long into these really impulsive, boneheaded decisions and I'm not sure if I was supposed to see her as "strong and intrepid," but I pretty much just saw her as bratty Dawn trying to do things best left to the smarter Scooby Gang.

Even more annoying was the constant reminder that I'm supposed to be impressed by her. She's an awesome fighter! She's...I don't know, other cool things! Logan's swooning! Yeah, I wasn't buying it. Especially since Rachel totally chokes under pressure. Yay.

There was a lot of talk about Rachel and what she was (badass, hardened warrior, heart of stone), but nothing about her characterization actually backed any of this up, so it was even more annoying to read over and over and over again.

I want to shower with him!

Ok, that's what I *thought* I had written in my notes, but they actually said "I want to shower him with cool points!" And, unfortunately, only the latter is a statement I can stand behind. Because much as Logan is filled to the brim with awesome, that certain spark of something was missing for me.

But back to the coolness for a sec. Logan is, oh my, he's a total dreamboat. He's SMART. Like, crazy, super, genius smart in that always-creating-cool-gadgets-and-master-plans kind of smart. I could always count on Logan to have a plan and I never had to mentally scold him for doing something dumb. He even surprised me a few times with how clever he turned out to be. I give him ALL the gold stars.

Except, what about the swoon? I don't know what went wrong here. Everything about Logan adds up to be amazing and I should be falling all over myself for him, but, but, I really wasn't. Maybe it was Rachel? Because she's totally unworthy. But, no, I should have still swooned. So I'm really not sure what the problem was.

I think part of it was that I was all primed for a hate-turned-love romance with lots of romantic tension, and that didn't really happen. I mean, I did, but it also kind of didn't. They start out at kinda hate (though hate is too strong a word), but they jump toward the love side of things a bit too quickly for my tastes and so the tension was never really there. At least they jump there because of mutual respect though, so that was nice.

And there weren't any love triangles. Whew. 

Readjust your expectations

I'm so tired of blurbs lying to me. What really happened isn't bad at all, actually, it's pretty great. But it took me a long time to warm up to what was actually happening and stop pining after what I was expecting to happen and that seriously lowered my enjoyment. So what actually happened?

Based on the blurb I was expecting Logan and Rachel to leave the safety of their village pretty early on and venture outside the wall together. NOT EVEN CLOSE. It takes more than half the book for anyone to leave, and when they do, they don't leave together.

For the longest time I was getting real antsy wondering when in the world they were going to leave and get with the questing part of the book. So needless to say I wasn't exactly taking the time to enjoy the slower unraveling of the story. Which isn't to say it's SLOW, because it's not. Lots of stuff happens during this time and the author did a great job setting up the world.

I really grew to hate the commander (he reminded me of President Snow) on a level I wouldn't have if the author had just quickly told me he was a bad man and moved on. I got to know Logan and Rachel more this way and see how they fit in with their world. I also now see how this section was essential in setting up the events that will happen in the sequel. I appreciated all the time spent here and I wish I could have enjoyed it more at the time (which I totally would have if it hadn't have been for that stupid blurb).

Also, this is a dragon book! I didn't see that coming at all! (Though, I couldn't help giggling every single time the dragon was referred to as The Cursed One. Oh noes!!) 

My new favorite genre!

So, it's not new new, because I've already fallen in love with it before, but I am still completely in love with this new fantasy-dystopia trend! And, you know what, despite my great love for vague medieval-ish fantasy villages, I can totally buy that they harbor a dystopian hell hole (peasantry for the win! Erm, NOOOOO). So, it works.

It also works because there are already swords and rabble and stuff, so it's practically begging for an uprising. And the medieval jail cell? The medieval village overseer? Gah, how did people not think of combining these genres sooner?!

Also, dragons. 

Oh, and you know what I REALLY super appreciated? This isn't a dystopian trilogy where the first part is the boring "slow awakening" where the MC spends eternity figuring out that their land sucks. Thankfully, C. J. Redwine doesn't keep with that mold at all. It's more like The Hunger Games where Katniss always knew things were messed up, but she slowly became more empowered to actually do something about changing the system instead of just subverting it. 

C. J. Redwine amps the coolness up a notch more by adding whiz-bang technology and while I don't really understand how it works in this world, it's still pretty cool. I mean, there are no toaster ovens, but there are electronic tracking devices?? I would maybe buy the lack of toaster strudel-heating devices as an example of the despotic government, but they had tasty cakes in their world (like big sticky buns of awesome), so this just isn't adding up.

But, yes, it is cool. Mostly because Logan is a whiz-bang technology genius. A character might think to themselves, gee, wouldn't it be great if I had magnetic suction thingies so I could scale that wall? And Logan's all like, MADE THAT, pssshhaw. Only, you know, he's cool about it (not like me, I'd totally brag. And probably end up in jail. But Logan is not thwarted by mere jail cell walls). And what is it about a guy and controlled explosions that's so attractive? Because I think I swooned the most for Logan when he was blowing stuff up.

So, in conclusion, I might have wondered a little about how these gadgets were actually supposed to work and why if they were present, why weren't other things present....but really what commanded my attention was how these inventions made my heart flutter for Logan.

Bottom line

This isn't a perfect book, but I liked it enough that I toyed with giving it four stars (Rachel's Dawn-ness and the emo quirky tree people squelched that urge, but, but Logan, and dragons, and FANTASY DYSTOPIA!).

The book ends at a good point, but it's totally the middle of the story. A few questions were answered (and a few of them were, like, DUH FINALLY!) but for the most part there are a lot more questions introduced. Also, the end leaves our heroes in a whole lot of WTH and they need to figure out how they're going to deal with the massive load of Oh Crap they've just been handed. But they're up for it (at least, Logan is) and I'm definitely tagging along for part two. 

Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Do you have any questions about Defiance that I haven't addressed?
Feel free to ask in the comments!

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  1. I've seen so many mixed reviews for this I don't know what to expect anymore. Sorry you couldn't connect with Rachel very much, but at least Logan worked better for you even if you didn't swoon. ;) It's also great to hear that the characters know from the start that something is up with their world and decide to take action from the beginning. Lol, it seems like such a mixed book. Great review! :)

    1. I think the fact that they already knew their world was bad was one of the best parts :P I haven't read any reviews for this book yet, but you've made me curious now! I have so many mixed feelings about it, so I can just imagine how mixed the reviews are.

  2. I like multiple POVs, but not knowing who is who without a lot of clues? That could end up being annoying. Hmmm. Guess I will have to read it and find out.

    Not sure I've read a fantasy dystopian before, but loving both the genres hardcore, I'm kinda excited!

    1. I like multiple POVs, too. At least these are separated by chapters (which I really should have mentioned in my review...) so it's not like you're confused midway through a scene or anything. I'm not sure, but they might even have the characters' names at the start of each chapter, so that's helpful :P

      I hope more authors write fantasy dystopians! As far as the two I've read go though, I liked Touch of Power a lot more.

    2. Darn. I just tried to comment on your blog and I'm STILL spam deleted :(

  3. I've seen only glowing reviews for this so far, so it was good to see a little of the other side. Perhaps when I read it, then, I won't go into it with crazy high expectations. :)

    1. I went into it with crazy high expectations :( Between the blurb and the cover, it was one of my most highly anticipated books. I wish my expectations had been more moderate.

  4. Welcome back. What a great, descriptive, informative review. I originally thought you weren't enjoying this so it was great to see you stuck it out and decided it was pretty darn good. I've been interested in this one for a while and I think I'll put it on my TBR now. Its one I'll wait for at the library though.

    1. Thank you! :) I wasn't enjoying it at all for a while and I was seriously considering DNF-ing it. A lot of that was because I was getting impatient over the fact that they hadn't left yet. Also, Rachel. I'd recommend waiting for the library. It was good enough to add to a TBR, but I wasn't amazed.

  5. I wasn't really feeling this book despite seeing it around but I'm liking the sound of action. I also love fantasy dystopias so this might end up being a book I want to read after all. Thanks for more info!

    1. There's action, but there's also a long stretch of very little actual action. If you love fantasy dystopias though, then I'd definitely recommend checking it out!

  6. I sort of like the sound of the book but I don't really feel the pull to read it.
    I don't know why, maybe is a vibe thing.
    I'm glad the book worked for you over all, I did think it was something you might like from the summary

    1. You don't love fantasy though, so I can see why you're not feeling the pull. :) I had SUCH high hopes from that summary!

  7. Wow, what a great review. I really like how you described everything, so I could follow why you gave it this rating. I've been hearing mixed things about this book, but I still feel like I want to try it. There is something about it that makes me want to read it. The multiple POV's are always nice. I think I'll get a copy from the library, just to find out if it's good enough for me to buy :) Thanks for sharing your honest, well-written review.

    1. Thanks! I'm always a big advocate of checking a book out through the library first. :) I hope you love it!

  8. I haven't read this one but I totally planning to. I've had to readjust my expectations though because while people seem to like it, I've seen them say that it's not amazing or anything like that.

    I'm really liking the mix of fantasy and dystopia in stories too :)

    1. I can't wait to hear what you think of this one! I think you and I are usually pretty in line, with a few exceptions (you didn't like Throne of Glass, right?)

  9. I think my main problem with this one was that I had really high and different expectations for it, as well. Which is SO annoying. I wish I would stop making these insane expectations for the books I am about to read because it's unfair to the book and to my reading experience, which would have been much better had I gone into it open-minded. But publishers really need to quit with the misleading blurbs as well!

    OMGosh, you are so right about Rachel being Dawn! It never occurred to me, but hearing you say that - she SO is. I didn't quite dislike her as much as you did, but I was definitely underwhelmed with her character. The technology and how that all worked was pretty confusing, I agree. At least there was a dragon-monster-thing!

  10. I definitely got a love-triangle vibe with the Tree Boy towards the end. Can't remember his name because I had to return the book to the library. Logan got all jealous over how he was looking at Rachel.

    I agree with all your other points. The characters were very ho-hum, and it was quite predictable. I'll still read the next two books, though! :)


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