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Defiance (Defiance Trilogy)
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2012
Format: Hardcover
*"It's probably my job to tell you life isn't fair, but I figure you already know that....So instead, I'll tell you that hope is precious, and you're right not to give up."

Seventeen year-old Rachel Adams can't believe it when all the searches are called off, and her father, Jared, is declared dead. He is the best tracker/courier for the city state of Baalboden. Rachel's heart is crushed with grief and despair, but she knows deep down that if anyone can make it in the Wastelands that lie beyond the city gates, it's her father. She now must attend the reading of his will to find out who will be assigned as her new Protector. Rachel has no doubt that Oliver, the trusted family friend and surrogate father, is the one that will be named. She is beyond shocked when Logan McEntire, her father's apprentice and the one man she's been avoiding for the last two years, is named as her Protector. This is the man she gave her heart to, only to have it handed right back. No matter though, because she doesn't plan to stick around long enough for that decision to affect her. She starts planning a way to skirt over the protective city Wall and look for her father.

Nineteen year-old Logan is shocked to find out he's been assigned as Protector over Rachel, the daughter of the man he considers his father. One who professed her love for him two years ago, but no longer even glances his way. Logan feels there's no way he can take on this responsibility, especially when he has so little time to plan and execute a mission to locate Jared. Added to all of these problems is the Commander, the cruel and wicked ruler of Baalboden, who is watching every move Logan and Rachel's makes. They figure out he doesn't believe Jared is dead either and is suspicious that Logan or Rachel know he's not.

I loved everything about this story! The characters, the pacing, the world, and of course, the romance! You will find no insta-love or triangle in this story. There are just two well-rounded and believable main characters. This is told is in dual POVs alternating between Rachel and Logan, and I felt the method worked rather well. We're able to see the story and how things are felt from both sides, making it easy to connect with both main characters. Lack of communication between Rachel and Logan leads to them making bad decisions with major consequences. But shock!! (Because this seems to be so different from many YA stories.) These characters actually learn from their mistakes and do not keep repeating them. Thankfully, you aren't frustrated throughout the entire novel, having to grit your teeth at every stupid decision! Their romance is very sweet, and like I said, no insta-love, but instead a slow and satisfying build-up. Here's a little snippet to tempt you:

*Her lips brush mine, sweet and hesitant, and I open my eyes. She's all I can see. All I can taste when I breathe in. Her body molds itself to mine like she was made for me, and I want her to feel it too. To acknowledge it.

I guess you would call this a steampunk novel set in a post-apocalyptic future world. There are futuristic-gadgets, and yet much of the advanced technology we have available in our world is gone. Customs and traditions seem to have reverted back to the past. The role of women has taken a big leap back, which left me furious in a few instances. Fortunately for Rachel, her father chose to ignore that custom and trained her to be a competent fighter. I can't talk about the characters without mentioning the cruel and sinister Commander. I cringe at every scene he's in! He seems to always have something up his sleeve, and I'm wondering if there's something to that. There are reasons he's in power, and I hope we'll find out more in the next installment.

There are enough questions and things left undone that I'm anxious for the next book. Yet, we're not left with the pain and frustration of a cliffhanger, just excited anticipation awaiting the next book. This is a brilliant debut from author C.J. Redwine!

I forgot to add, I love this cover and it's so perfectly suited to the story which is nice for a change!

Thank you to Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss for allowing me to read this wonderful story.

*Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may change in the final copy.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book had literally everything I love in a story.

The action and adventure was incredible. There were scenes that literally left me gasping and curling into a ball, and that's not something I typically do while reading. I'm normally a much more...stationary...reader. But the tension in some scenes was nearly palpable, and I couldn't help myself. I was invested.

It also was a mishmash of all my favorite genres. There were elements of sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, steampunk, romance, and of course, fantasy. And when I say "mishmash," don't misunderstand me. I mean it in the best possible way. This book may have a genre identity crisis, but that's just because it defines its own new genre of pure awesome. So no, I'm not quite sure how to categorize it, and with some books, that would be a problem. Not here. Defiance blends genres seamlessly, and left me hungry for more fantasy-sci-fi-post-apocalyptic-steampunk-romances.

Too bad I don't know of any.

The characters of Rachel and Logan were strong, personable, flawed, and passionate. They each had their own unique voice, and I loved how the narrative shifted between the two of them. The characters balanced and complemented each other well, and their relationship quickly skyrocketed to the top of my list of favorite YA pairings. I thought their alternating voices kept the story constantly fresh, and I was completely engaged from beginning to end.

The character of the Commander made for a deliciously evil antagonist. The kind you want to slap every time he enters a room, or maybe cower from underneath a table. Just when I thought he couldn't be more despicable, he was. But he also wasn't a caricature of a villain. He seemed frighteningly real and terrifying.

And as for the story itself, it was unique, exciting, and thrilling. I wasn't really shocked by anything that happened, but I also didn't find it at all formulaic. There were no twists for the sake of twists, nor were there any payoffs that didn't feel earned. The story simply unfolded the way it needed to.

Since I don't want to write a 100% gushy review (much as I may want to), I'll mention the couple tiny criticisms I had with the book, so you don't think that C.J. fed me some crazy-making Kool Aid. First, I wasn't completely in love with the ending. It's good and exciting, but I like my endings to have more resolution, even if they are part of a trilogy (which this is. Yay!) Would it keep me from recommending the book? Heck no. But I do wish a little more was wrapped up by the end.

And the only other thing -- which is so small as to be inconsequential, except that I'm noticing it in a lot of YA fantasy books lately -- is the overuse of the word "crimson" in regards to blood. As in, "her hands were stained with crimson."* This is not unique to Defiance. As I said, I've noticed this a lot lately in YA fantasy. A couple times, it works. But after a while, I just kind of want authors to use the word "blood." Or even "red."

But as I said, that is a tiny, tiny gripe. Mostly because I feel like I need to gripe about something to keep it real.

Overall, Defiance was a fantastic, exciting read that kept me riveted. It's unique and special and splendid. One of my absolute favorite books of 2012. If you love a good adventure with magical elements and strong characters, this one is for you.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Originally posted on Hypable.com

Defiance is the debut novel from C.J. Redwine that will leave you craving more. The novel is epic and sweeping with brilliant characters and a strong plot. Add it to your to-be-read pile at the very top.

Defiance is not your typical story. There is something about CJ Redwine's writing that pulls you in and has you holding your breath to the very end. This is not a debut for the faint of heart; Redwine writes with conviction and isn't afraid to pull punches or torture her characters.

The story is about a girl named Rachel who lives in the town of Baalboden, one of the few remaining townships. It is ruled by a one man called The Commander. He believes that women are weak and need to be protected. They have no rights and at the age of seventeen can be claimed by a husband. Women are not allowed to leave the house without their Protector. Rachel is not your typical Baalboden girl. Her father works as a courier and carries message to other towns through the wastelands, area fraught with danger. He teaches Rachel how to protect herself by taking her with him into the wasteland. At the very start of the story we learn that Rachel's father has not returned from a mission and Rachel is now left to her new Protector. The story moves from here into a fast-paced race against time and evil. It is a constant chess match between Rachel and The Commander.

CJ Redwine has created characters that you can connect with and love, and some that you can totally hate. The Commander makes King Joffrey and Theon Greyjoy look like a couple of kittens. He is ruthless and cruel in a way that only men seeking extreme power can be. The Commander strives for complete and total dominance over his people and he will use any means necessary to get it. Rachel is a fantastic example of a strong female character. She is a character that you grow with as a reader and her growth changes you. Then there is Logan who is strong, brave and incredibly complex. He has a rage beneath his calm exterior that is at times terrifying. Logan was the apprentice to Rachel's' father and now he is determined to help Rachel in her quest. Logan appears to be nothing more than a normal inventor but his ability to create devices that undermine The Commander is unparalleled.

The narration is driven by both Rachel and Logan. The alternating point of view keeps the reader well informed and gives a better understanding of character motives. The story, while rather serious in nature, has sparks of wit and undertones of romance that should appease all types of readers.

This book is a must-read especially if you are a fan of Game of Thrones, Grave Mercy, or Graceling.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
What an absolutely stunning debut! C.J. Redwine's writing is poignant, her storytelling is mesmerizing and her world building is incredible. I loved everything about this book. DEFIANCE is a well crafted story that had my complete attention from the moment I started it, and it still has me wanting to crawl back through it's page long after I've finished it. It's one of those books that takes you on an incredible journey, introduces to you unforgettable characters, treats to a story unlike one you've read about before, and gifts you with moments of romance, heartbreak, action, and well, defiance.

It's that defiance, or as I like to refer to it as stubbornness, that makes Rachel a stand out character for me. Her defiance is one of her greatest strengths and biggest dawn falls. She's an incredibly strong women who thinks quickly on her feet, is fiercely independent, and has this loyal devotion to those she loves. I admired her and the choices she makes in this story. Regardless of some of the not so fun consequences she deals with from her actions, I found myself relating to her often and cheering her on. Had I been in her shoes, I would have done many of the same things she did. I loved feeling like I really got to know her as a character. She came to life for me in so many ways. It wasn't just the fact she acted more like a tom boy vs the obedient women those of her time were expected to be like, but the comfort she had in her own skin is one of the things I loved the most about her! She embraced the women she is and the girl her father raised her to be, despite not having a mother around for her. I seriously loved her for that.

I also liked understanding why when I first met her she had her emotional wall up, and getting to see her slowly but surly bring it down further and further the more I got to see Logan and Rachel interact. Logan, WOW, what an amazing hot boy with sword. I loved him as much as I loved Rachel, because again I felt like I really got to know him. His honesty with his insecurities with himself made him both vulnerable in ways I don't always see a main character/hero mention, and it made him relatable and realistic, because I got to know him and understand him. I loved seeing him grow from a little bit of unease in his new roll to the fierce, loyal protector other people saw in him. He truly is the perfect match for Rachel. These two have an amazing chemistry, and it was such a breath of fresh air to see them work through their feelings of hurt, of insecurities, and watch their relationship grow into something strong and immovable. C.J. Redwine rocks with sizzling character chemistry and writing hot scenes!

Character wise, DEFIANCE has solid, dimensional characters that allowed me, the reader, to truly understand them. It wasn't just the two main characters I enjoyed reading about, but the other characters who are apart of Rachel and Logan's world. I connected with them on emotional levels despite the fact I didn't grow up in this time period, nor have I dwelt with most of the things Rachel and Logan do. I felt like I understood the reasoning behind their motives, I got what drove them to action, as well what motivated them emotionally. The characters complimented the storyline perfectly, and I loved getting caught up everything that goes on within the pages of this book.

C.J.'s world building is seriously awesome. I love, love, love reading books that have a timeless feel to them, and have a world that is historic, and yet unique and creative to the story it's apart of. It's unlike any other world, yet similar to a few of my other favorite reads this year. Once again I am in awe over this year's debut books that I've fallen in love with. This is one book that stands out among the many YA books I've had the pleasure of reading not just this year, but as a whole. I highly recommend this book. I could go on and on about my love for it, but I'd either end up spoiling something or boring you guys to death over my list. If you haven't already, go pick this one up! I can guarantee you, you will find this book near the top of my top ten list at the end of the year. This book is phenomenal. I want more!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
DEFIANCE is so much more than a story about defying the rules and regulations. It's about fighting for what you think is right and sticking by the ones you care about. It's also a tale of love and fighting through hardships, no matter what life throws at you. I think many teens (and adults) can related to the themes of the story, despite it being a dystopian novel.

At first, I thought it was a true dystopian novel, but as I read on, I realized that it does have one little (or big) paranormal element to it. The Cursed One, a fire breathing monster, has wreck havoc over the whole world by incinerating everything in its path. This has created the need for secure cities surrounded by huge walls, in order to protect the inhabitants. Baalboden is such a city but Rachel Adams does not feel protected nor safe within its walls. Her father, a courier, has gone missing outside the walls and has been pronounced dead. Since Rachel doesn't believe him dead she decides to go searching for him in the dangerous lands outside the wall.

Rachel is very different from the rest of the girls in Baalboden. First, her father has taught her the basics in self-defence. Second, she feels like she shouldn't be "claimed" by a man once she turns seventeen, like all the other girls in the city. Her independent streak and her common sense tells her that she should be able to care for herself and that she should be allowed to walk the streets of the city without a man guarding her every move. However, one man has caught her heart. She has been in love with Logan for years and now, since her father has not come back from his courier mission, he is pronounced her new guardian, or Protector.

The relationship between Rachel and Logan is one of the main reason I enjoyed this novel so much . Despite their rocky past, they more or less make a pact to join forces in order to find Rachel's father. The tension and the love/hate relationship between the two characters is really what has you coming back for more. Before their mission even begins, they're separated from each other as the communist commander of the city jails Logan for treason. I truly believe this separation of the two characters is a genius, since, as a reader, it kept me that much more interested in the story. And of course, it had me anticipate their reunion. Who doesn't love a good reunion?!?

Despite really liking the story, I found it lacked a bit of information, which could have made it an even better book. What exactly is this Cursed One? Where did it come from? Why couldn't the army find a way to defeat it? Why have the women of the city become puppets when they were once free and independent? Despite these questions, DEFIANCE is near the top of my list of favorite YA books of 2012.

DEFIANCE is a griping tale that keeps you entertained until the very end. For all the dystopian fans out there, this is one book that you'll want to stack your shelves with since, besides being a great story, lets admit, it does have a pretty cover. C.J. Redwine will definitively enthrall you with her writing since her characters are so realistic and fresh.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Since I first chanced upon this book in Goodreads I knew I had to read it. Why? Strong female lead, some romance there, not regular whiney teenagers and a mix of ancient culture mixing city states with post-apocalyptic rules... It just tickled my fancy. So I eagerly awaited its release and now I've just finished it.

Did it live to my expectations? Quite so! I love the world building, I love the character writing done by the author. The book is written switching points of view between the two main characters, Rachel and Logan, and both have very definitive voices, so you get to know the full story much more better this one. Both voices are complementary, as the characters themselves are.

The story feels inmensely real cause it goes beyond the regular "fight between good and evil" and dwelves deep into the character motivations and never in a way to put you off the story.

The book ends wanting you to know more, to go deeper into the world and the story, but thankfully, not with a horrible cliffhanger!

I gave the book 4 stars, but really only cause I don't know how to give it 4 and a half!

Thank you C.J. for a great book that managed to absorb me and kick me off my reading slump!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Rachel and Logan used to be very close friends, until Rachel told Logan that she loved him when she was 15. After that Rachel decided Logan didn't exist and Logan eventually moved away within their city. They live under a ruthless dictator, with no regard for citizens' rights, especially women. The people follow him because he has the power to turn away the ground-dwelling, fire-breathing monster that plagues their world. Then Rachel's father, one of the best trackers, never returns from a trip and Rachel is given to Logan as his ward. Neither realized that there is still something between them. They both don't believe that Rachel's father is dead and have plans to go out and find him, but doing so means risking everything. Risking their love and their lives.

My favorite character was, by far, Logan. Rachel I also liked and understood, but some things were a little off for me with her. I felt like for someone who grew up her whole life as she did should have been a little bit smarter in some ways and understood a lot more about how things would play out, even being raised as she was by her father to track and fight. There was some innuendo and some violence, but I didn't feel that is was overdone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Defiance was an amazing book! I read through it in a few hours :)

It follows a girl, Rachel, who wants to find her father, who had disappeared. The story takes place in a half-fantasy, half dystopian world. Most of the surrounding Earth has been destroyed by a great monster. The only safety for the people is in a village run by the tyrant ruler. When Rachel's father disappears and is declared dead, she goes to find him. Logan, the boy who had rejected her before, ends up going with her.

Rachel was a character that ended up having to deal with so much pain throughout the story. She just goes through so much! Logan was also an amazing character that Rachel leaned on. He really liked her and was so nice to her. They had such an amazing relationship and so much respect for each other. The characters were such a great part of the story!

The plot was fast-paced and overall incredible. All the events were heart-pounding and make such a huge difference in where the story goes. As everything starts to fall apart, the characters manage to remain strong.

I can not gush enough about Defiance. I loved it so much! I'd give it five out of five flowers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
JUST finished. Holy emotions. A friend of mine told me about this book awhile ago and lent me his copy. Because I already had a mountain of library and ebooks to read, it got placed on the back burner for awhile.

Kind of a neat story: C.J. Redwine actually wrote some of this book down the street from my house at a Books-A-Million where my friend worked.

I loved this book. Redwine did an amazing job creating this dystopian world and I loved the storyline.

Rachel was a great female lead. Sure, she was impulsive, but I think that was part of what made her so likeable. She actually acted like a 16 year old would, making rash decisions, not always thinking ahead of what might happen.

Logan, as the male lead, completely offsets that. He is planned, precise, and balances her well. I definitely heart him. C.J.- you'd better not have anything come between the two of them in book 2! They strengthen each other and support each other, its not one way or the other. I love that.

This book will lead you on a roller coaster of emotions, but despite everything our protagonists have gone through at the end of the book hope is still attainable
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I will start by saying that this novel definitely contains clichés and it demands that the reader occasionally suspend her disbelief...but I enjoyed it anyway.

The characters are three-dimensional and interesting. The relationship between Rachel and Logan is based on true admiration and caring, not simply physically attraction. This is certainly refreshing in the YA genre. The setting is unique. The society is compelling, convincing and terrifying. Great characters. Great setting.

However, what I loved the most about his novel is that people had true reactions to trauma, to the point that I realized how artificially other novels have handled trauma. When something horrible happens to Rachel near the beginning of the book, she spirals into depression, terror and guilt and she has a very difficult time dealing with these emotions throughout the rest of the novel. So often in YA books, the characters simply "bounce back" from trauma. It was so realistic and so refreshing that I instantly respected the author and the story for handling trauma in this way.

This is an exciting, romantic adventure. I recommend it to fans of the genre.
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