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A Reader of Fictions: The Tension and the Terror - Straylight Run

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Tension and the Terror - Straylight Run

Defiance
Defiance, Book 1

Author: C. J. Redwine
Pages: 403
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
ARC Acquired from: Balzer + Bray

Description 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.


First Sentence: "The weight of their pity is like a stone tied about my neck."

Review:
Defiance has been on my radar ever since I saw the cover. Seriously, this is, without a doubt, one of my favorite covers. Having read the book, I also like that it seems to make sense for the book. Rachel does have hair like that, and both the forest and the walled city are important settings for the plot. While this may not have much to do with the quality of the book, I just had to express my obsessive love for this cover.

With all of those expectations in play, I was really afraid I would turn out to hate Defiance. Good news: I didn't! In fact, I was impressed with Redwine's writing early on. Her sentences are complex and I just love her syntax and diction. Nor does her writing ever seem forced, like she was writing with a thesaurus to sound smarter. Basically, it felt natural and worked well with the story.

I would rank Defiance as more of a fantasy than a science fiction novel. Personally, I think dystopias can go either way, and I have trouble really seeing our world evolving into this one. This is not to say that the dystopian society is not reminiscent of certain terrible elements in cultures I'm familiar with, particularly the past. The state of women in Baalboden, and perhaps other city states is horrific. Women must be constantly with their Protector, either father, substitute guardian, or husband. Girls are married off (Claimed) at 17 years of age, and have no say in who claims them, unless their Protector chooses to indulge their wishes.

Of course, Baalboden isn't scary just for that, although I must admit that would be the most immediately grating thing for me were I to live there. The town is ruled over by the Commander, a creepy dictator who does what despots like to do: whatever he wants. He manipulates people into doing his bidding by threatening them, and their loved ones with violence, and he certainly is willing, perhaps wanting, to follow through.

He came to power because he is one of the only men in the world (the others have their own city states to rule) who can defend against The Cursed One, a monster that emerged from deep in the earth when people dug down too far. To imagine the terrifyingness of this monster, picture a Balrog crossed with a dragon. And yet, scary as this creature is, the humans in the book are definitely the most fierce. I would rather face a quick death by fiery monster than by the Commander.

I loved the characters of Rachel and Logan individually. Rachel refuses to be put into a box (or a fancy dress); she learned to fight and to survive from her father. The fact that no one expects strength from a mere woman makes her even more powerful, because they won't know what hit them. Logan is brilliant and protective, but also wise enough to know that just because you want to protect someone doesn't necessarily mean you can or should.

The tension in their relationship at the beginning, when he finds himself appointed Protector of a girl just a couple years his junior who once confessed her love to him, is so awkward, which is precisely perfect. The whole situation could not be otherwise. I wonder why her father would appoint Logan, although my only answer is that perhaps he knew Logan's feelings better than Logan did and was extending his blessing in a way. As they came to respect and trust one another again, I loved their verbal sparring and, again, the awkwardness of it. Once they start recognizing their feelings, I was a bit less interested. For once, I am actually looking forward to the subtly hinted prospect of a love triangle to shake things up a bit.

My one issue with the book was in the use of multiple points of view. Telling Logan's and Rachel's narration apart was difficult. If I didn't read the name at the top of the chapter, I would have no idea whose head I was in until I flipped back, the other person appeared, or the location made it apparent. Rachel and Logan are quite different characters, which is apparent in the dialog. I think the difficulty is that the non-dialog writing is all in the same style. It seems unlikely Logan and Rachel would think so similarly.

All things considered, Defiance is a powerful, action-packed debut that would make an intense movie, something like The Hunger Games meets Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I am so looking forward to the next installment!


Favorite Quote: "'Apparently, he thought you might need the help. You're just a girl, after all.' A ghost of a smile flits across his face. 'A girl who knows how to keep her head in the face of the Cursed One, who can nearly drown and still trek for four hours, and who has the skill to bring down a boar. Bet the Commander had no idea how far he's underestimated you.'"

"All the tension and the terror,
Thin-limbed gorgeous green eyes smiling,
And I'm going straight to hell,
All the possibility and promise just,
Weighs on me so heavily,

And I try but I'm not convincing,

Your lips they pout and twist and,
I die trying just to keep myself from kissing you,
You take in everything with a certainty I envy
It's somehow all I need just keep me guessing please,

Oh darling all of these awkward jump-start-stalling conversations,

Mean much more to me than anything,
So it comes down to me and you and,
Whether we're supposed to or not, we still will
"

Remember: Every comment on a post during Dystopian August is an entry to win one of fourteen dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels IF you've filled out the form from this post.

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35 Comments:

Blogger Bekka @ Pretty Deadly Reviews said...

One of the things I disliked most about this book was the POV switch. It was awkward. Logan's entire POV centered around talking about Rachel, and Rachel could talk about was Logan. I felt like Redwine couldn't really get into her characters' heads and that's why she wrote that way - always observing the other character without having to delve deeper than what was readily apparent.

I've said this to you before, but I definitely had this strange twinge of deja vu reading this book. Like I swear I read this before, I swear to god. I feel like maybe I read an excerpt somewhere, or something because I knew everything that was coming more than a beat before it happened. I've never felt that way with a book, and it was so jarring that I couldn't finish it.

Also, I felt like I read a lot, over 100 pages, and still nothing had actually happened. A lot of awkward conversations and sneaking around, but that's it. It bored me :/ And I really wanted to like it because the author herself is an absolutely fabulous woman.

August 2, 2012 at 4:22 PM  
Blogger Bekka @ Pretty Deadly Reviews said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

August 2, 2012 at 4:22 PM  
Blogger Bekka @ Pretty Deadly Reviews said...

How many times am I going to try to make this right?

ALL Rachel could talk about was Logan.

That is was I was trying to say in that sentence up there that doesn't make sense.

August 2, 2012 at 4:23 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Hmmm, well, as I said, the POV was my main issue too, although for slightly different reasons. Teens being all wrapped up in their crushes does happen. I loved her writing, but Logan and Rachel read the same to me.

That's so weird. I didn't have that feeling when I was reading, though now I'm trying to think back and see if I remember any similar books. We need something with a wall, monsters and a creepy overlord. Hrm.

This isn't the fastest paced book ever, but that's usually not an issue with me. Everything in YA is pretty much always more fast-paced then classics or history texts, so I can handle it. That's one of the areas where I'm not as picky.

August 2, 2012 at 4:25 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I totally figured that out. They were definitely wrapped up in one another. That's why I was actually encouraged at the possibility of a love triangle in the next one (though it may just be in my head), because they need to stop puppy love-ing all over the place.

That sounds less innocent when verbed.

August 2, 2012 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger Nori said...

I think this sounds awesome! I'm so excited to read this one. I am getting a little tired of POV shifts lately though.

August 2, 2012 at 4:51 PM  
Blogger Lilian said...

I love POV shifts (granted that all characters are likable), and I love badass, fierce female protagonist.

Oh gosh, the romance reminds me so much of a Harlequin I just read. Girl confesses, guy is not interested and ends up hating the girl for ruining his life...several years later, she's grown up and gorgeous..an they fall in love.

I am wincing at the romance, and the monster reminds of a bit of those Grievers...I am on the fence with this one as well. I'll see.

Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

August 2, 2012 at 5:50 PM  
Blogger Christy Maurer said...

I haven't read this one yet. It sounds like something I might read though. I don't mind Point of View changes at all :) Although from the review, it sounds like a bit more romance than sci-fi or dystopian....maybe I just need to see for myself :) Have you read Ashes yet? I'm reading that one now.

August 2, 2012 at 6:45 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I actually really like POV shifts, but they're hard to do precisely right.

August 3, 2012 at 8:46 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Actually, I don't think ALL of the characters have to be likable, but I DO think that they all need to be interesting and have their own voice. Those are both tricky.

LOL. Oof. I don't think I could read Harlequins. Back when I read romance, I went for the ones that didn't have people on the covers: jewels or flowers clearly indicate a classy romance novel, right?

The monster is not like the grievers AT ALL. Like no. It's like a Balrog, dude.

August 3, 2012 at 8:48 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

The focus is definitely on romance, I feel, but there are dystopian elements for sure. I would classify this more as fantasy than science fiction.

I have read Ashes. It took me a long time to get into it, but I did like it. Actually, I preferred Bick's contemporary Drowning Instinct.

August 3, 2012 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger Lilian said...

I agree! Interesting characters (especially messed up ones) makes me admire the writer so much more.

Oh! Or go for the ones with those 1600s paintings, like the covers on Jane Austen novels. CLASSY! Or those 1920s pictures...like they did on a new edition of The Great Gatsby (which also has the same picture as Rules of Civilty's cover, it makes me think Penguin is being cheap.)

When I think of Balrog, I think of those on Maple Story. Yes, I played that game in middle school. That stuff was CUTE.

August 3, 2012 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, if you can make an asshole character work, RESPECT. A good example is Sam from Before I Fall. At first, it was super painful, because she's awful and totally like my high school nightmare (aka what high school was like), but then you get to watch her grow.

Like Georgette Heyer! I totally have been tempted to read those, because CLASSY!

Lord of the Rings! Balrog = scary fire monster from LOTR.

August 3, 2012 at 1:15 PM  
Blogger aLilLacey said...

Whoop whoop for a redhead. I haven't read the book yetbut it sounds like it would be something I'm interested in. So it's not too hunger games dejavu then? A girl wants to go out of the norm, kick some butt and love on somebody? Will add to goodreads just for the sake of the cover..oh and because of your great review : )

August 3, 2012 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

No, other than the powerful heroine, the book isn't Hunger Games-ish particularly. I'd say the plot elements made me think more of LOTR and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, plus something with a walled society...Birthmarked maybe?

August 3, 2012 at 1:35 PM  
Blogger Lilian said...

Asshole characters that work...*ponders and scratches head*
yeah, I'll get back to you on that one.

The first one that comes to mind is the dad from Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. NOOOOO!! I forgot his name. I wanted to slap the guy, but then I kinda felt sorry for him since he was just an under-educated country hick, so I kinda forgive him. (Enchanted Inc. is making me use the word "hick" subconsciously!)

Now that I think of it when I first saw 50 Shades of Grey, I thought it was some crime thriller. Which might've been somewhat classy...before everyone knew what it was.

Yep, that Balrog is one ugly, scary thing. I am glad I am not in Middle Earth.

August 3, 2012 at 2:12 PM  
Blogger April (BooksandWine) said...

I like that Defiance is more fantasy than science fiction! Seriously, I am so much more of a fantasy fan.

Also? That cover it's very RAWRRRRR. I love it.

August 3, 2012 at 2:25 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Hahaha. You know, like, you want to punch them BUT also want to finish the book, rather than like Babbitt for example where I mostly just wanted to kill him in nasty ways and his book too.

Bahahaha. Enchanted, Inc. is awesomesauce!

WHAT? Actually, I guess I see that. James Bond DID wear a lot of ties. The covers don't really make sense. I love seeing the imitation covers come out. LOOK AT THESE SEXY CUFFLINKS!

Right? Or Baalboden. Note: The monster may not actually look like that, but in my head it sure does.

August 3, 2012 at 2:33 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I love both, so I'm happy either way. I do love the freedom of fantasy. It has to have laws, but they can be ANYTHING! :-D

This cover = my favorite.

August 3, 2012 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger Lilian said...

Ah! Humbert Humbert from Lolita! He may be a pedophile, but that guy's way with words...

Ok..it wasn't Fifty Shades of Grey that made me think of a crime thriller, it was Fifty Shades Freed. I get the covers mixed up.
HA! CUFFLINKS! That Bared to You book that claims to be the next 50 Shades of Grey or something. It actually kinda saddens that they are piggybacking off of 50 Shades' fame.

August 3, 2012 at 3:02 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I haven't read Lolita yet, but I really want to. I read the first page at a friend's house once while I was waiting for her to do something and it was GORGEOUS. I think I'm going to love it.

The handcuffs one. Oy. So many.

I got a review request for a Fifty Shades spinoff book. I loled for like a half hour and didn't respond.

August 3, 2012 at 3:06 PM  
Blogger Lilian said...

FIFTY SHADES SPIN-OFF?!?! EWWW.

I know there was a spoof or something that came out days ago. I saw it on Goodreads and I heard it was on Netgalley too, it sounded legit and hilarious (but really, even the original book sounds absurdly hilarious from the reviews I've read/watched). Fifty Shames of Earl Grey or something.

On the other hand, I loved Funny or Die's spoof of it with Selena Gomez: Fifty Shades of Blue.
I have a girl-crush on Selena.

Sometimes I don't know if the author will think I'm rude if I don't respond. The thought of another Caroll Bryant? scares me.

August 4, 2012 at 5:47 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, I've seen some reviewers liking that one, but I really just don't have any interest in anything leaping on that bandwagon. Well, actually, I am kind of curious about the erotic Sleeping Beauty books by Anne Rice from way back that are being repubbed because they think the public is ready for them now.

...?

Man, I would just ignore them. I didn't promise them anything, so they have no reason to spaz on me.

August 4, 2012 at 10:22 AM  
Blogger Lilian said...

This is the first time I've heard that Anne Rice wrote erotic Sleeping Beauty books. I still need to read Interview with a Vampire someday...and I have her Wolf's Gift book sitting on my bookshelf for months.

50 Shades of Blue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKWIqRAW_WI

August 5, 2012 at 2:27 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

THAT VIDEO IS SO CREEPY.

I've heard Wolf's Gift was awful.

August 5, 2012 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Kayla Beck said...

This is another book cover win for me! I wanted to read the book before I saw the cover, but I'll be honest - it's what sold it for me. :-D

Yes, I just kinda skimmed the review so I don't spoil too much for myself. I'm excited about the Cursed One - I love cool monsters.

August 7, 2012 at 3:47 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

The cover is SO PRETTY. I love it so much. I wanted to read it, but as soon as I saw the cover I HAD TO HAVE IT NOW.

The Cursed One was pretty cool. Look forward to that.

August 7, 2012 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Kayla Beck said...

My only complaint is that she is a bit too thin, but cover models don't come in Normal size. *sigh*

August 7, 2012 at 4:26 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

This one does at least look like she might have a teensy bit of muscle, but, yeah, I bet Rachel would have way more meat on her bones, since she's been doing warrior training all of her life.

August 7, 2012 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger Lynn K. said...

This one has been on my radar too! She's the same cover model as Angelfire...right? o.o

The plot does sound interesting but multiple POVs? They are usually a hit or miss for me. All in all I can't wait for it to be released. ;)

August 14, 2012 at 6:57 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

She might be! I don't know for sure, because I'm really not good at recognizing people, but they look similar!

I think multiple POVs are just hit or miss in general. I think they're fantabulous when they work, but are often done poorly. Hope you enjoy!

August 14, 2012 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger M.A.D. said...

I think so, too! I've read some great books with multiple POVs, some not so great (currently reading No Safety In Numbers w/mult POV - the verdict is still out, we'll have to see how it goes lol).

Anyhoo, my daughter and I are both eager to read Defiance, glad you really liked it *YAY*. She's going to Barnes & Noble tomorrow, and I'm curious to see if she'll pick up a copy ;D

August 31, 2012 at 10:07 PM  
Blogger Shelver506 said...

I'm hoping to pick up a copy of DEFIANCE from my store this week, and I'm so nervous. Like you, I'm head-over-heels for the cover, and I'm terrified that I won't like the book! If the POV is the only big problem, I think I'll be okay. Thanks for a great review!

August 31, 2012 at 10:14 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Oooh. No Safety in Numbers. I want to read that one at some point.

That's awesome that you and your daughter have similar taste. I've been getting my mom into young adult fiction lately. :-p

September 4, 2012 at 8:50 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Other reviewers have had some different issues. The romance is questionable, but the concept worked for me. It really depends how you feel about her world building, I think.

September 4, 2012 at 8:51 AM  

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