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PFS2012 Bloggers' Choice: Defiance by CJ Redwine (Review + Giveaway)

Title: Defiance
Story Arc: Series
Publication: August 28, 2012 by Balzer + Bray
Hardcover: 403 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Adventure
Age Group: Teen, Young Adult
Source: Harper Teen via Edelweiss
Excerpt(s): Author's Pick
Content: Bloody Violence, Murder, Kissing

The weight of their pity is like a stone tied about my neck...

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.
Rachel Adams lives in a world in which enduring fear of a dragon-like creature lurking beneath the city isn’t the only disadvantage a young woman like her has in Baalboden—a walled city ruled by a hard, heartless, cruel dictator who demands that no one woman be left unaccompanied, left without a Protector. Rachel is due for her own upon the dawning of her upcoming birthday. The problem is her father isn’t with her to make this easier—he’s been recently pronounced dead on assignment. Where does that leave her? Forced into the Protection of Logan McEntire, the last person she’d want to spend day-in an day-out with if she had any say about it. The Commander has ensured that she doesn’t—and he’s watching, her and Logan, closely, waiting for a sign of defiance, watching for an act of treachery that’s sure to happen as long as Rachel needs answers and Logan has a method of getting them.

You’ve met characters like Rachel, maybe even Logan. Rachel is the impulsive, daring, hardened “bad ass” everyone is so impressed by and admires—she’s different from other girls her age, a tom boy who has no business wielding swords and mouthing off authority, one who draws eyes with her beauty and simultaneously rebuffs interest with her standoffish manner. In a single day, she loses an essential part of her family, her childhood home, and is sent packing to live with the boy who rejected her heart’s advances a few years back. To say I can sympathize is a bold understatement. That doesn’t, however, necessarily mean I like Rachel as a person and enjoy her characterization. She’s not a perfect heroine by any means—and who wants perfect anyway? My real problem with Rachel is that she has a tendency to irritate nearly every time she opens her mouth. She doesn’t consider her brashness and think-later attitude make her irrational and prone to bouts of illogical thinking, and clearly has no conception for the major consequences of her actions. I can separate myself from that in the beginning, so long as there’s growth to look forward to. For me, Rachel’s character never changes, never learns anything vital—if anything she only burrows further in her ideals and attitude, which, to me, isn’t growth but a setback. I could appreciate her badassery in a fight, whether on her own or side-by-side with a partner, and her deep-rooted affection, concern, for those who center her. However, I wouldn’t say I felt an attachment to her.

On that note, I kind of wish that Logan’s perspective had been the only narrative throughout the novel. I found it easier, and certainly more fun and interesting, to be inside his head. I’ve seen in a lot of reviews that people don’t so much like the repetitive ‘worst case/best case scenario’ thoughts he sometimes has, but I adored him more for it. Logan, for some reason, reminded me of a young Sherlock Holmes—not as swoony as Robert Downey Jr. but just as fascinatingly brilliant as his interpretation of the character. He’s this hunky epic nerd, quick on his feet and with his mouth, and I found Rachel actually likeable through his eyes, than simply reading about her from her own. He sees her better than she, even we, sees herself, and I loved him more for it. Their romance isn’t really a hate-turn-love kind of relationship. The love was always there, it merely became muted with Rachel’s hurt and anger and the lack of respect they showed each other. Reading as that changed was a delight, and, although that aspect may be a little too swift for some, it tied in nicely with what we know of their entwined history.

If you’re strictly a character girl/boy, then you won’t have your mind blown by these two characters—they aren’t very original, but they are certainly exciting to read about. If you’re more interested in plot, I think you’ll fare a little better. Redwine gave me the pieces she’d intentionally left to my attention, yet no matter how obvious the big picture, I couldn’t quite fit them to make perfect sense. Meaning, I kind of anticipated the direction of the story, but I couldn’t hammer out the finer details so that it all became sparkling clear. Maybe you’re the type to figure out the mystery faster than most, in which case you might have a more difficult time enjoying the surprises Redwine works in. And while Redwine’s mix of medieval high fantasy questing and futuristic dystopian world-building was a pleasure to read through, I wasn’t overly impressed by the journey or the destination. It didn’t strike me as very imaginative or unique, yet, in spite realizing that, I found myself continuously engrossed. There are deaths, prison beatings, and exploding cells, assassins, fire-breathing creatures, and betrayal and treachery in the midst of it all! Not every aspect is memorable or striking, but I did find nearly every bit to be interesting, and the darkness, despair, and tragedy made it intriguing as well.

Although definitely not a favorite, I enjoyed myself immensely. And isn’t that the whole point of reading? I can honestly say I was never bored, never stopped questioning and wondering. I was entertained, but not in a 'har-har that was funny' kind of way, more of a Wow! Look at all the exploding things! way. Points for Redwine for giving us a solid ending as opposed to a Shake Your Fists cliffhanger, which would’ve been unacceptable. While I wouldn’t say Defiance by CJ Redwine ends on a happy or cheerful note—there’s a giant mess to take care of—it was satisfying and absolutely provoked my curiosity for a sequel.

Rating: Sud-Kissed

IN LESS WORDS: Defiance by CJ Redwine isn’t your average dystopian fantasy story, but neither is it an extraordinarily remarkable one. Even so, that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy yourself or find yourself entertained. In fact, quite the opposite! There’s plenty of action for explosions-and-battles-hungry readers, and there’s enough yummy chemistry between the two main characters, Logan and Rachel, for the die-hard romantic. Dystopian lovers won’t be extremely impressed but won’t scorn the heartless dictator of Baalboden and the dystopian-esque society within the walls of the city. Same with lovers of high fantasy, who won’t get more than some forest questing, odd tree people, and a disturbing fire-breathing Cursed One. However, I do believe Defiance by CJ Redwine is a nice, subtle combo of all those elements, and will fit a variety of readers’ preferences—the story just won’t be a perfectly balanced or told one to everyone who wraps themselves up in it.

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“Get back. Rachel, get back!” Oliver pulls at me as another wave of terrified citizens fight to get out of harm’s way and back into Lower Market.
I take an elbow to the chest from a husky man in a tattered cloak, and spin out of the way before the mule rider behind him can crush me beneath his steed’s hooves.
“Rachel!” Oliver yells as the same husky man gets knocked off the road by the mule and slams into Oliver, sending them both sprawling. The ground shakes so much it’s hard to find my footing, but I claw my way over to them, grab the man’s arm, and wrestle him off Oliver.
Behind me, the screams are eclipsed by a raw, primal roar of fury, and I whip my head around to see the glistening black length of the Cursed One burst through the ground. ~shared by Julie on behalf of CJ Redwine
You guys voted for Defiance as your Bloggers' Choice pick for August, and the peeps over at Harper Collins and CJ's assistant are more than happy to celebrate! One lucky winner will get some Defiance swag from Julie and a copy of Defiance from Harper Collins.

This giveaway is US only, but if you really want this one, make sure to enter my birthday giveaway to pick this as your choice if you win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
You can find CJ on her Goodreads | Blog | Website | Twitter | Facebook!

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Got something specific in mind? Dare I believe I might NOT have covered something you wish to know? If so, let me know down in the comments section. Comment down below if you'd face a dragon to get to daddy or you wouldn't mind being locked in with a hunky male nerd.


Lili said...

I got an eARC of this book for review and have been dying for a physical copy ever since! Like you, I greatly enjoyed myself with this book, though it's not an ultimate favorite. I was never bored and really enjoyed the story that Redwine weaved for us, but I wasn't completely blown away and shocked. It left me wanting to know what happens next, but I'm not going out of my mind for the sequel like I am for other books.

This was an amazing review, Asher! I agree with everything you said. Thanks for the opportunity to win it too (:

Tayte Hunter said...

I liked it. I love it how you describe Logan as a hunky epic nerd. :D

Lacey T said...

Loved how you were able to describe Rachel! Sometimes I feel the same way about characters from other books. Even though the characters aren't the best, I'd still want to read Defiance for the story :) Thanks for the giveaway!

Angie said...

I love that the romance in Defiance is such a major part of the story, as well as it being a dystopian. I've had enough of dystopians being all about how that one person is going to change the world forever.

Brandy Schaefer Dull said...

Great review! I love dystopian novels, and this one stands out as unique!

Erika said...

Great review! Love how you described Rachel as being "not perfect" but likeable. I've been wanting to read this! Thanks!

Kelly Mills said...

Great review! I appreciate your honesty about your feelings towards the characters and plot. Based on the book description and your review, I have to say it sounds like I might end up feeling the same as you about the book. It does sound like an interesting and enjoyable, if not entirely original, read.

Cordelia Fitzgerald said...

Thanks for the honest review!
I've heard so many great and explosive things about this one that I'm afraid I would have been left feeling let down and disappointed after reading! But I'm glad that you pointed out that the storyline was captivating and the book, although no original, is worth the reader's time!