Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Book Review: Defiance
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. Quoted from Goodreads
Okay, honestly with this one I hardly know where to start. It was one of those books I literally couldn't put down, but it didn't really linger. The more I thought about it, the more certain things bothered me. Still it was a gripping read with an interesting world. Plus the author has superior taste in names.
So let's start with the world. No, scratch that. Let's start with the Commander, the mighty villain of the story, and he was absolutely evil. He was cruel, sadistic, and one step ahead of he heroes at every turn. I loved that. It made me hate him all the more, and I love absolutely despising a character.
Now for the world. It was harsh, depressing, and absolutely dystopian but with a fantasy feel. And here's why the Commander must be mentioned first. He basically created the majority of the world in this book.
So, backstory. Once upon a time people drilled too deep into the earth and unleashed a sort of dragon-like creature, that then proceeded to destroy almost everyone. More people = more destruction. There was nothing anyone could do until a group of nine people descended into the tunnel intent on killing the monster. While they failed, they did emerge with a mysterious guarantee that the creature wouldn't attack them. Each formed his or her own city-state, since proximity to them was the only hope of safety. One of them was the Commander.
To sum up, Rachel and Logan live in an oppressive, misogynistic city where women are whipped to death if they even leave their home without their male protector, and men don't fare much better, because this is the Commander's city. The Commander's every whim is law, and no one dares go against him for fear he will withhold his protection. This is why there can be no real rebellion, why even his guards put up with his Darth Vader like tendency to kill even them off systematically. (I should warn you, it's all quite melodramatic.)
What I didn't understand was why he toyed with the main characters as much as he did. He had no problem killing everyone else off with minimal fanfare, and while Rachel did have something he wanted, I have no idea why he didn't kill Logan the moment her back was turned. And what was the point of Rachel's Claiming? I honestly didn't get why he went through the whole process. It's not like he needed the law on his side for what he wanted to do. He is the law.
Anyway, it is a horribly depressing world, but that always works in the main character's favor. As I have said before and will absolutely say again, the hero can only be as good as the villain is evil. While I don't think Rachel and Logan reached a comparable level of heroism, they did a fine job trying. They were both strong characters, while flawed, and they learned from their mistakes and grew throughout the story.
I liked the alternate point of view, though I still think of Rachel as the main character, maybe because of the name, maybe because of the cover, maybe because it's her father that is missing. Rachel is impulsive and headstrong. Logan is methodical with plans upon plans. The romance between the two is sweet without being consuming, and I thought they complemented each other well.
I also really loved Oliver, though I must have missed something in the beginning. At first I thought he was like thirty, then forty, and then realized he was old, as in grandfather figure. Sylph, well I guess her only purpose was to show how non-girly Rachel is. She is supposedly Rachel's best friend, but I sort of wondered why. They didn't have anything in common. At all. And yet, she is mentioned in the very last paragraph of the book, practically given equal importance as Logan. Hmmm.
The ending left me wanting more. Isn't that what all endings are supposed to do? I don't really know where the next book is going exactly (what are they going to do with all those people?), but I look forward to learning more about the other city-states. I also really want to know what the Commander had against Logan's family. And then there's that other thing . . .
Someday I'm going to wait until all three books are out before starting a trilogy. Honestly, it's like a disease I have, this inability to wait until things are nicely finished, but with Defiance's cover and synopsis, you can't really blame me for snatching this up as soon as it came out. This was a solid 3.5 star book, maybe with a few issues, but it is tons of fun, keep you on the edge of your seat, make the characters suffer before triumphing kind of read.