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.
This cover is underwhelming to me – nice enough but so forgettable. The girl’s hair is a striking contrast to the rest of the cover, which is obviously full of dark colors. I like how Rachel’s cloak divides the cover, but I didn’t even notice the image of Baalboden above the title.
This book had a lot of promise, and maybe I was expecting too much, but I found it to be forgettable. The dynamic between Rachel and Logan gets much less interesting after they’ve confessed their like for each other. The action scenes keep the book intriguing, but I can’t say I was dying to find out what was going to happen. In a YA landscape already full of dystopian, action-y, forbidden love books, the story you tell has to be nothing short of epic. This one just didn’t have that spark for me.
- action – There’s a good amount of this book tied up in the characters’ thoughts about each other, which tend to get a bit mushy. But most of this book is devoted to action and strategy. I like books that don’t pull the punches. Defiance is full of violence necessary to the plot, and not every important character gets a free pass. People die, people get injured realistically – they don’t magically heal after 10 pages.
- Rachel’s fighting – I really appreciate that Rachel trained for her entire life in order to effectively use her weapons, rather than going from novice to expert in the space of something like a fighting montage. Rachel knows how to fight, but she still hesitates when it comes to actually using deadly weapons against someone for the 1st time. Rachel’s good at fighting, but she still struggles – she doesn’t win every fight or end every battle unscathed.
- Logan’s inventions – Logan’s inventions enable he and Rachel to do so many important things. Without Logan’s inventions, they would have had no chance at all to find Rachel’s father. Logan’s devotion to his craft and his “toys” brings them hope of escape, from their city, from the Commander, from the miserable lives they are forced to lead.
- Melkin – I found Melkin’s story to be pretty interesting – why he was on the Outside with Rachel, what he had at stake, and his beliefs and doubts about the path he has found himself on. Melkin is the enemy, but not for the reasons Rachel and Logan assume. While on the road with Rachel, Melkin becomes a welcome companion despite Rachel’s fears. He proves himself to be a caring person, not a monster.
- the Commander – The Commander is one of those villains that makes your head want to explode. He’s evil just for the sake of being evil, focusing on Rachel and Logan for no real reason at 1st. They later become pawns in his game, but I don’t think the Commander had a good reason to keep picking on them in the beginning. I appreciate stories that have complex villains – villains who believe they are doing the right thing, villains whose motives readers can identify with. The Commander is easy to hate. He has no real redeeming qualities. He wants Rachel, in a pervy way, but why her?
- Quinn + Willow – The Tree People, Willow and Quinn, just struck me as unnecessary. They don’t really have much to do with the plot, so they end up just kinda being around, and I feel like they are useless extra characters, just taking up page space. I get that the Tree People are meant to show Rachel that there is a viable alternative to living in a walled-in city-state, but that’s something that doesn’t really require actual Tree People, much less 2, in such a big part of the book. Maybe they’re important later in the series?
- the Cursed One – So, there’s a giant dragon things that lives underground, but it won’t come inside the walls of Baalboden because of something having to do with the Commander. I have so many questions about this though. Why is the dragon thing called “Cursed?” Where did it come from? What did the Commander do to it? Why are the people living in Baalboden so unprepared for an attack from a monster that lives right outside the walls, and supposedly has for years?
- I never used to understand why people would choose to build houses in the trees in hopes of avoiding the Cursed One rather than live beneath the protection of a city-state. Now, I know that sometimes the protection of a city-state comes at too high a cost. – Rachel (location 3205/5334)
- I don’t want to let him wash my hands, but he pulls them beneath the water and carefully scrubs away the blood, the dirt, and the evidence of all that’s been. The crimson has seeped beneath my skin, entered my veins, and become a part of what’s left of me. No amount of scrubbing can erase that. – Rachel (loc. 4579)
Acquired: bought (ebook)