Monday, June 23, 2014

Review: Defector

DEFECTOR
Variants #2
Susanne Winnacker
Young Adult/Paranormal/Sci-Fi
288 pages
Razorbill
Available June 26th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Tessa has finally made peace with her life as a Variant. She and long-time love Alec are officially a couple, and for the first time, she has everything she wants.

But the air is tense at FEA headquarters. An agent has disappeared, and rogue variant organization Abel’s Army is likely the culprit.

When Tessa is summoned for her second mission, she is unexpectedly launched into a massive conspiracy. Her best friend Holly is kidnapped and Tessa knows it was meant to be her. But who is after her? And more importantly, why?

When the FEA’s efforts to rescue Holly don’t yield any results, Tessa takes matters into her own hands. Desperate to save her friend and uncover the mystery behind Abel’s Army, Tessa launches her own investigation—but nothing could prepare her for what she finds. Everyone in her life is harboring secrets: Alec, her estranged mother, even the father she never knew.

The truth will take her out on the road and out of her comfort zone, with danger lurking everywhere. Summoning all of her courage and strength, Tessa must decide who can be trusted and what is worth fighting for—even if it means going against the life she thought she wanted. Her final decision will leave readers breathless.


MY THOUGHTS
Defector picks up shortly after the events of Impostor, returning us to young Variant Tessa and her group of unusually gifted friends as they try and anticipate the next move made by supposed enemy Abel’s Army. Longtime series readers should know upfront that Defector is a classic second book, following a familiar path in which the main couple dissolves, a new romantic interest steps up, and a cliffhanger awaits us in the final chapter, but despite our frustration that this story fails break out of its middle book box, Ms. Winnacker undoubtedly tells a good story and keeps us entertained throughout. Her style is one that simply flows well; an easiness to the dialogue and the transition from one event to the next that keeps us turning the pages to find out what this second installment has in store for Tessa.

Though Tessa and Alec box step their way through a dance we’ve seen time and again when secrets that change everything are brought to light, Tessa handles the situation differently from many of the fictional girls that have come before her. Though she’s genuinely upset by what she learns, she doesn’t sit on the information and let it fester, changing her behavior around Alec while she questions his every move and creates more distance between them after working so hard in the last book to close it. Instead, she immediately confronts Alec with what she knows and asks to hear the truth from his lips, and when his answers confirm what she already knew, she thankfully doesn’t stage a dramatic exit. She asks for time to sort through everything while still admitting to herself that her love for him remains the same.

It’s only after additional secrets pile themselves atop the ones she just learned that Tessa decides to make the break we suspected was coming but dreaded just the same, venturing into the unknown in search of answers. While many might see her actions as a girl running headlong into trouble without all the facts (and that is certainly true to some degree), it’s also clear that Tessa will never be trusted with all the pieces of the puzzle that is her family at the FEA, leaving her little choice but to do the best she can in discovering things for herself. Her young age does show itself at times, particularly as her longing for home and family is brought to the forefront, but we can’t help but feel for her, knowing we as readers have the benefit of emotional distance whereas she’s trapped in a storm of confusion, pain and anger.

The introduction of a new romantic player is, to our great relief, a very minor component of this book, and Tessa recognizes fairly quickly that the days following a complete upheaval of her life are not the time to start a new relationship. Overall, Defector plays the part of a middle book to a T, but despite that, it’s a quick and engaging read that answers some questions while raising a slew of new ones, and I certainly can’t wait to see what will happen next.

Rating: 4/5
 

Find Susanne:

*I was lucky enough to be a part of the promotional tour for Defector, so be sure and check out my interview with Susanne and enter to win a copy of the book! 

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

37 comments:

  1. Ah you know how much I also loved the first book - like so so much! I guess I'm going to wait for the last one to come out to finish them both together. Middle books are always hard and I wanted to see Tessa growing with Alex, but I love that she just went to him and confronted him! Yeah Tessa!

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    1. I loved that she didn't sit on the information either, I was going to shake the book if she did. I so enjoy this series!

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  2. The first book was just released in French. I didn't know the series but I'm quite curious, I heard great things about it. It's nuce to see book 2 is good too.

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    1. I hope you give it a try Melliane!

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  3. Even though this is a middle book, it does sound like it didn't suffer too much because of it.

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    1. No, it was still a really fun, fast read and I do love all the characters. I could have done without the new love interest, but since it wasn't made into a huge deal I was able to get over that pretty quickly:)

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  4. Glad you enjoyed this one, Jenny - I've been hoping for good things because I really liked the first book! I'm glad to hear that the new romantic interest doesn't play too much of a part here - I'm so over the standard love triangle in YA.

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    1. I'm really over love triangles as well, so while I was frustrated there was one at all, I was glad to see it was kept relatively drama-free and Tessa didn't turn into one of those waffling heroines.

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  5. Finally done summer school so I can get back to commenting on my favourite blogs :) I still haven't read the first book, Jenny, and even though this one follows the classic middle book syndrome, I like that the MC realizes that it's not a good idea to start a relationship when other aspects of your life are upheaval.

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    1. Yes, definitely a middle book, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it and can't wait for book 3!

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  6. I loved the first book and am excited to check this one out. I am a little bummed that it's a typical middle book, but glad to hear that the new romantic interest isn't a major focus. I agree with Leanna…so over the usual love triangle we encounter all the time in YA. I will definitely be picking up a copy! Great review, Jenny!

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    1. I can't even remember the last YA book I read that didn't have a love triangle of some sort? How sad is that? I liked how this one played out though, and I hope it continues to be low drama moving forward:)

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  7. THANK YOU for Tessa confronting Alex!! Too many times, the characters let the miscommunication go on and on when it could have been solved with a quick discussion (or argument. Whatever). Let's ditch the third player before he becomes an issue in the next book, though. Down with triangles!

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    1. Right? I could have hugged her for going straight to him to verify before working herself up into a state and doing something stupid:) I do so love Tessa.

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  8. This sounds like a brilliant series, Jenny! I saw Imposter a while back and I wasn't convinced at the time. But even though this is the second book in the series, I can really see the character relationships between Tessa and Alex that I would really enjoy reading. Lovely review, Jenny! :)

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    1. I hope you read Impostor Emma! I LOVED that book. This was a fun read too for sure, but the first one is definitely on my shelf of favorites:)

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  9. Hey Jenny - I just had an ad pop up from your site that completely took over the page. I had to wait before I could click back to the page. Is that supposed to happen?

    It's too bad in these days of trilogies everywhere that authors haven't figured out something better than the "second book." At least she figured out quickly that a new relationship wasn't a good idea. Still, I wish the pattern varied more.

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    1. I have no idea. I haven't done anything differently to the blog in about 4 years so who knows;)

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  10. I still need to read the first book. Yours is actually the first review I've seen for this one. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Sophomore syndrome is far too common these days. Great review!! :)

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    1. It is common and I wish this one had varied from those familiar second book staples, but I still had a blast reading it and really love these characters:)

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  11. I haven't read book 1 yet, but I've wanted to for some time now. After reading your review though, I think I'm going to wait for book 3 to make sure that there really isn't going to be a love triangle.
    I actually appreciate the main character for confronting the love interest. There definitely needs to be more communication like that between characters in YA books! I'm glad you still found this installment enjoyable, Jenny.
    Beautiful review as always! :)

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    1. I don't think there will be (fingers crossed!). This seemed more like the "I'm feeling hurt so I'm going to reach out for comfort" type of thing than any sort of genuine interest that could be something more moving forward. It's always been Alec for her so I don't see that changing!

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  12. I really enjoyed Impostor and I'm glad to hear that though Defector is a middle book, it is good enough on its own and doesn't really suffer from the middle book syndrome!
    I'm also really happy that Tessa decided to confront Alex directly instead of sitting on the information and let it become an even bigger deal! I just had a meeting at work about how important it is to address the issues directly with the people involved and not let them stew until they become bigger than they originally were!

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    1. YES! I was so worried things were going to all fall apart the way they have in so many other books, but Tessa pleasantly surprised me by going straight to Alec to get the truth from him.

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  13. I'm glad the typical middle book qualities are subdued and not quite as annoying in this series as they are in most. Aspects such as a new romantic interest always throwable off balance when I've gotten into the groove of a series, so I'll likely wait to see how this trilogy ends before diving into it. I'm definitely eager to see the plot of this trilogy unfold when I finally read it. Lovely review, Jenny!

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    1. I definitely was not off put by the familiar middle book plot elements as I have been in other books, I just like the way Susanne writes and am really looking forward to where things are going to go in book 3.

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  14. So excited to read this book! I loved the first book and I can not wait to read this one.

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  15. I love how the covers in this series go so well together :) I love the kind of writing style that just flows with effortless ease and the dialogue is written well in the plot. So good! "She asks for time to sort through everything while still admitting to herself that her love for him remains the same." Thank heavens that there's such a YA heroine! I already love Tessa! Haha. Thank goodness that the love triangle aspect is very, very mild. I'm glad you enjoyed this one and I hope you'll enjoy the sequel just as much if not more :)

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  16. How did I miss this one? I read the first book and even though I had probs with the world building, I still enjoyed it. Might be a good thing though. Sometimes middle book bugs me and so it might be better if I read this one and the third together. :D

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  17. Your interview already had me excited to read this, and now I'm even more pumped to get my copy! I always expect a bit of middle book shuffling but I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed it and that those elements didn't detract from the story. Sounds like Tessa has her head on straight when it comes to Alec and the new romantic interest, and I'm thrilled to hear it. Lovely review!

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  18. I still haven't picked up the first book in this series but your review has reminded me that i made a promise ot myself that I would before the second book came out so now i have ot rush and read the first lol. Glad this one didn't suffer from second book syndrome! :)

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  19. I'm drawing a blank on the first book, honestly. I vaguely remember people talking about it and liking it? But it must not have left much of an impression on folk if I can't remember any serious praise for it. After reading your review, I could see myself digging this book actually, even if it suffered from the classic middle book syndrome. I'll be curious to read reviews for the next book in the series when it comes out!

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  20. Glad this was a good middle book. I plan to read the first one, so knowing that makes me feel more confident going in.

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  21. I loved Imposter Jenny, and despite having some second book issues, I enjoyed Defector too. There's just something about Susanne Winnacker's writer that compels you to turn the page. I'm glad Tessa stood up for herself, though it kind of made me sad too - lol, I'm such a romance sucker :)

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  22. I have this second book but never did get the first. I've been debating whether it's a series I should find time to fit in. It's too bad it has the second book syndrome, but it sounds like it all works out pretty well and it wasn't a big issue since you still really liked it. I'll hang onto my copy and see if I can get the first one eventually.

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  23. I'm such a failure I really need to read the first book. It's staring at me from the shelf. I'm glad to hear new romantic intros don't overwhelm the story - I hate when an awesome sounding YA book gets taken over by romance.

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  24. So the cover of this one totally through me off. Maybe I'm just having a blonde moment, but did they change the format? B/c I'm pretty sure that I have book 1, and I'm pretty sure it looks nothing like this. Why am I rambling about the cover? B/c I've been seeing this book everywhere, and I had no idea it wasn't the first in a new series b/c UNFAMILIAR. I hate it when that happens. And I need to hurry up and read Varients so I can read this one too.

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