Paranormal Young Adult/Dystopian
Balzer + Bray
Available August 28th
Received from publisher for review
THE STORY (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.
MY THOUGHTSEmotionally gripping, Defiance wastes little time drawing readers into Rachel’s rather brutal world, teasing us with a tension stemming from unrequited love while slowly carving out pieces of our hearts as a daughter clutches to the hope that her father is alive and well. The city in which Rachel lives is not a pleasant one for women, their education limited to things deemed appropriate for their gender, such as how to be a proper wife and hostess, and their mobility is inexorably linked to that of their father, husband, or appointed Protector. Women are not permitted to travel the city alone, but whereas such an action in historical times might bring forth a small scandal in the eyes of society, in Rachel’s world it’s deserving of a public flogging, one so severe it often ends in death. As a result of the claustrophobic restrictions placed on Rachel, it’s extraordinarily easy to root for her as she eschews what is deemed “proper”, learning instead a much more violent set of survival skills that causes the corners of our mouth to kick up in a cruel smile as we wait to see what she will unleash on the monster who calls himself her leader.
Rachel is an incredibly strong young woman, able to be an individual despite the oppressive weight of her society’s expectations of her as a female, and continuing to hold her head up high despite the incessant whispers that her father isn’t coming home. Initially we do harbor a small worry that the rejection she suffered when she admitted her love for her father’s apprentice Logan will be a continuing problem–one wherein she seeks to retaliate by inflicting the same pain on him through verbal jabs or weighted silence–but to our great relief she opts for honesty with Logan throughout the story, shutting down only temporarily before recognizing the wisdom of open lines of communication. Her journey is a dark one, at times painful to experience with her as we watch someone warm and hopeful become hard and vengeful as a result of one grievous emotional injury after another, but she never closes herself off completely to us or Logan, allowing us a fragile link to her even when she hits rock bottom.
Sharing page time with Rachel is Logan, a young man branded an outcast because his mother dared to leave her home unaccompanied and paid the highest possible price for her perceived audacity. We get as much from his point of view as we do Rachel’s, adding an extra layer to their complicated relationship as we get to see and feel their reactions to one another from both sides. He’s a gifted inventor and a brilliant strategist, his way of thinking pairing beautifully with Rachel’s sometimes rash but well-intentioned actions, and it’s downright stressful to read as they dance around one another first out of sheer stubbornness and then due to circumstances forced on them, and all the while our gut-wrenching desire to see them together propels us through their story at unprecedented speed.
Ms. Redwine delights with this first installment, proving to us again and again that she has no fear of challenging her characters or her readers, forcing us all to face things we might wish could otherwise be magically altered to come out in our favor. There are certainly a large number of questions left at the end, but thankfully no actual cliffhanger, just the palpable need to know what’s to come of both Logan and Rachel as we look forward with a great deal of anticipation and also a touch of dread, wondering how Ms. Redwine is going test our hearts and minds to see what they can endure moving forward.