Title: Defiance                                                                                      Author:  CJ Redwine                                                                   Publication Date:  August 28, 2012                                         Publisher: Balzar + Bray                                                                 Format:  Hardcover 416 pages                                                          Genre:  YA    

Rating:  Oh, this is tough–really liked the story, but my taste longs for richer scenery and something that happens outside the characters’ heads.  Let’s say it’s a 3.5 out of 5, engaging and entertaining.  Give it a 4, if you are a Hunger Games addict in need of heroines skilled at archery.

Synopsis (from Amazon): 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.

 Acquisition:  the NOOK 

The Nashville Connection:  CJ Redwine resides in Nashville, and her book was recommended to TNR by members of Nashville’s Kid Lit Meetup.

Review:   Defiance is a book of revolution, and there are more than a few great battle scenes.  The anticipation and energy of those confrontation scenes carry the book.  Easy on the senses with enough highs to satisfy any true Hunger Games addicts looking for a fix.

It is a fantasy romance that takes place in a dystopian future after the world has been destroyed by monsters called The Cursed Ones.  It also takes place mostly with the front cerebral cortexes of the two main characters, Rachel and Jared.  It is a book of emotion and interpersonal strategy that does not allow the reader any glimpse outside of the couple’s vision, which is mainly focused on each other.  Even the surrounding images are described in ways that lend to the feeling of being trapped inside a body, “Darkened windows are cut into the bulky exterior like lidless, unblinking eyes…”.  There are some great supporting characters, who could have offered some objective assessment of Rachel and Jared, but they are all killed except for one, Sylph, whose portrayal is a bit vapid.   And the charaters who come later, know Rachel and Jared after they are committed to each other and irrevocably changed.  Fortunately, the book is written in alternating points of view, so the reader gets both Rachel and Jared’s perspective.  Also to the good, the main characters are interesting, heroic and  noble to a fault, so it’s not burdensome to be stuck inside their heads.  The setting of the book is very intriguing, and the need to explore, especially the city of Baalboden nags at the reader.  This reader wished desperately for maps outlining the world and locations of city-states, maybe some descripition of the flora and fauna, not just an acknowledgment that it in fact existed.

The book feels very much like the personal spiritual journey of a person who is already good, and just needs something to happen so that goodness can become legendary greatness.  Currently this book is a stand alone, but it seems clear that if it sells well there could be a series.

Notable:  The science and technology references in the novel are fascinating, as is Logan’s hobby of inventing technological gadgets, he’s a veritable Q.