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A Reader of Fictions: Review: Defiance

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review: Defiance

Defiance, Book 1

Author: Stephanie Tyler
Pages: 325
Publisher: Carina Press
Read: June 7-9, 2013
Source: Publisher for review

Description from Goodreads:
Rebelling against her legacy as the MC's princess, Tru Tennyson escaped the ruthless, male-dominated culture of the Defiance motorcycle club. Three years later, her newfound freedom is ripped away, thanks to a massive hybrid storm that killed millions. Now, in the post-Chaos world of semi-darkness and near-total anarchy where gangs rule, she discovers the dangerous world of Defiance may be the one thing that can keep her safe.

Tru is at the MC's mercy when she's dragged back to her former home … and to the only man she's ever pictured a future with. Caspar is the bastard son of the club's leader, her safe haven when life got rough — and her onetime lover the night she left. When Tru refuses to trade sex for power and be claimed by a rival club leader, she also dares to announce she wants Caspar instead, throwing the MC into turmoil.

Tru's brazen revolt could start a gang war and destroy the club from within. Now both Tru and the MC must wait for Caspar's response … and the inevitable fallout.

First Sentence: "From his perch on top of the Harley Fat Boy, Caspar waited Silas out as he looked toward the front gates of the Defiance Motorcycle Club's headquarters."

To explain why I read a romance novel with a dude on a motorcycle on the cover, I'm going to need to talk a bit about BEA. On Wednesday, I went to the Harlequin High Tea, and had a really great conversation with one of their editors. She asked me what I liked to read and ended up pitching Defiance to me, and, when she told me that her background included the Feminist Press, I was curious. Getting a review request for the same title when I got back convinced me that I should fit it into my schedule. It really surprised me how much fun I had reading Defiance, even if I do have some significant issues with the treatment of women in the novel.

Defiance falls into that subcategory of dystopian/post-apocalyptic literature where, in the event of an apocalypse the role of women reverts to that of a possession, useful for sex, cooking and cleaning. While I hate how common this basic premise is, I do think there's a reason it crops up so much. I wish I could say I didn't find that a believable vision of humanity's response to an apocalypse, that all the progress society's made in valuing women wouldn't be erased, but I can't. Plus, in Defiance, it' s set within a Motorcycle Club, which, from what little I know, isn't exactly a woman-centered place to begin with, so everything would be played up more strongly there.

Motorcycle clubs don't interest me at all, perhaps because of the sorts of gender roles and idiotic machismo that can be found within these pages in spades. Plus, the general lack of education in most of these characters - what intelligence there is is generally of the street smarts variety. There's a lot of slang, and antiquated ideas that women are to be owned and protected. The lucky women in the club are bonded to a man, belong to him, his to command, fuck and beat as he desires. She's his bitch (this phrasing is used). I'm not going to lie: I hate this shit. It's not cool at all. Being some guy's possession isn't romantic, and I don't like seeing Tru enjoying that.

However, the general trend throughout the plot is Tru and Caspar trying to improve the MC (Motorcycle Club). They want to stop the abuse of women, and make it so that women can hold more positions within the MC. Still not exactly a feminist read, but I can live with positive progress being made. It also helps that Tru and Caspar are really supportive of one another, and both very honest. Caspar doesn't hide everything from Tru, and he obviously would never hurt her or force her to do anything she wasn't comfortable with.

You might be wondering why it's set in a MC. Well, supposedly Defiance, the MC, was prepared for an apocalypse, building underground tunnels, sun lamps, means of getting water and growing food, etc. I honestly don't know enough about MCs to say whether that's realistic, so I just rolled with it. In this world, it's largely the rough who have survived: the military, cops, criminals, bikers. Soft, sweet people had more trouble surviving the Chaos, a world where killing to survive might be a necessity. Tyler doesn't hesitate to include violence, and it's definitely a sufficiently dark vision of the future.

Tyler also uses a really interesting narrative technique. One character, Mathias, has a first person perspective, where the rest is written in third person limited. Mathias isn't one of the main characters, so it's a unique choice. Mathias also happens to be unable to speak, so it's ironic that he's the only one given voice in the novel. Also, I really like Mathias, so I'm hoping he'll be a main character in one of the later books.

The reason I kept reading and am rating this so highly despite my serious concerns about the portrayal of the women, which is definitely still as beneath men at the best of times, is that it was really fun to read. I was flipping pages really quickly and curious to find out where it was going. Even with everything, I'm definitely planning to read the next book in the series. Of course, I'll be hoping to see more empowerment of women as the series continues, and if I don't the ratings may suffer. For those who are less particular about relationship dynamics in  romance, Defiance will no doubt be a fun read for you.

Rating: 3/5

Favorite Quote: "'I don't like rules, especially the unwritten ones that say I need to let myself be controlled by my man.'"

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Blogger Stephanie said...

I had to double check to make sure I was looking at the right blog when I saw this! But it sounds interesting and I have added it to my to-read list...

June 11, 2013 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Hahaha, yeah, gotta step out of the box every so often! I do love surprising people!

June 11, 2013 at 2:22 PM  
Blogger Ashley said...

I too am sick of the trope which involves women being used for possession. I was glad to see that you read something that I would have NEVER expected you to pick up. I like when you shock me.

June 11, 2013 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I was just too curious since someone who once worked at Feminist Press was recommending it. That's why I'm curious where it's all going.

June 11, 2013 at 2:40 PM  
Blogger Eileen said...

Ooh the treatment of women does sound pretty annoying here; I hate when all women are just given the jobs that society used to give them in the early 1900s, before all of those movements for women's rights. I'm glad you liked it enough to keep reading it and hopefully Mathias does end up as a main character in a future book because he does sound really intriguing, especially with the scenes where he's narrating!

Fantastic review, Christina :)

June 11, 2013 at 10:48 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

While I get why they do that and it does seem convincing, I would like to see more dystopian/post-apocalyptic examples where women aren't marginalized. Of course, a motorcycle club probably isn't the most matriarchal segment of society to begin with, but still. Even if the women can't do hand to hand combat, it's not like they couldn't learn to shoot guns as well as the men. *huffs*

June 12, 2013 at 8:44 AM  

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