Book Reviews · The Reading

Defiance by C.J. Redwine (DNF Review)

defianceTitle: Defiance (Defiance #1)
Author: C.J. Redwine
Published: August 28th, 2012 by Balzer + Bray

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While the other girls in the walled city-state of Baalboden learn to sew and dance, Rachel Adams learns to track and hunt. While they bend like reeds to the will of their male Protectors, she uses hers for sparring practice.

When Rachel’s father fails to return from a courier mission and is declared dead, the city’s brutal Commander assigns Rachel a new Protector: her father’s apprentice, Logan—the boy she declared her love to and who turned her down two years before. Left with nothing but fierce belief in her father’s survival, Rachel decides to escape and find him herself.

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.

The Review (may contain minor spoilers. Don’t worry, it wouldn’t ruin the story):

When I DNF books, I usually just put it away and not even bother writing a review. But this year I’ve promised myself that I would post DNF reviews because people need to know why I decided to stop reading a book and not finish it. So welcome to my very first DNF review. But I’m warning you, there will be lots of rambling.

With nearly 26,000 reviews, the majority of people seem to love, or at least like, Defiance. Sadly, I’m not one of them. I wanted to like this book and I gave it plenty of chances, putting it down and picking it back up thinking I just wasn’t in the mood to read something like this. But around the 50% mark, I decided that it wasn’t me, it was the book.

The story begins with our main character, Rachel Adams, who’s waiting for her father to return home from a mission. After 60 days of absence, the commander of her town/village/settlement thing declare him dead and Rachel is not happy about it. So she begins plotting and planning her escape to go into the Wasteland to find her father. Enter main character #2, Logan, her father’s apprentice who rejected and broke Rachel’s heart some years prior. He’s an inventor who’s been tasked with something he really doesn’t want to do: be Rachel’s guardian in place of her father.

I’m sure by now you can guess where this is going.

My biggest problem with Defiance is the characters. Rachel is described to be a feminist who’s ‘not like other girls’. She’s fierce and independent, she smart, she can take care of herself. But that’s not how she comes across to me. I think she’s whiny and prickly. She’s impulsive and even though that’s not always a bad thing, it causes her to end up in less than desirable situations. She reminds me of a metronome at times because she changes her mind left and right within the span of sentences. I’m not saying that there are no redeemable qualities whatsoever, in fact, Rachel sometimes does some things right. But most of the time, she has nothing but a half-baked plan and the determination to wing it. 

I think that the author tried too hard to make Rachel seem like a strong, independent heroine by making every other girl in this book weak, docile and highly dependent on the men in their lives. I really, really don’t like that. Rachel is SO tough and strong because she doesn’t like girly things. She thinks that beads and ribbons and all the other things in a tailor’s shop are useless except for a pair of scissors. She also thinks that she can’t stay in that shop for more than 5 minutes without going mad. Now, I don’t have a problem with girls who don’t like girly things, it’s all preference. But in this book, it’s like girls who like girly things can’t be tough, and tough girls can’t like anything girly and should only like weapons and fighting. I don’t think the world works like that.

Logan is probably worse. I think he’s arrogant, inconsiderate and a generally unlikable person. He treats Rachel badly, he thinks of her as an object and/or like she’s an idiot at times and the things he says/does/thinks about makes reading his chapters a very unpleasant experience. At one point, after an incident, Logan drags Rachel away by her arm and when she complains that he’s hurting her, his reply is simply “you’re lucky I’m not wringing your neck”. Umm… Excuse me? In another scene, Logan is unleashing his anger on a wall and decides to punch the wall one more time “…to keep from letting my anger loose on her (Rachel). Not that she doesn’t deserve some of it”. I just can’t. I’m not even going to talk about him anymore.

With a name like Baalboden, I expected the story to be set in a different world and nothing in the summary suggests otherwise. But as the story plods along, there are snippets that suggest that the story takes place in the future. The worldbuilding feels so insubstantial and vague, I really can’t tell you what’s what. Apparently, Defiance is set in a post-apocalyptic world, but there’s not enough information to build a solid foundation for that. I don’t find it believable that in such a short amount of time, the world has regressed so much that it’s turned back into an extremely sexist society where women aren’t allowed to do anything without their Protectors (yes, women are women, but men are Protectors with capital P) or risk getting whipped to death.

Honestly, I can still go on, but I think I’ve rambled enough. So now if you’re still asking me, or if you’ve skipped to the bottom to see if I would recommend Defiance, my answer would have to be a no. I think it’s a story with weak characters and a tenuous world-building all held together by a thin plot that I don’t think is very interesting. I’m really sorry if I sound harsh in this review. Maybe I didn’t read this book at the right time, or maybe I’m judging it too harshly, but I don’t think I’m going to attempt to read it again.

Have you read Defiance? Do you agree/disagree with anything I said? Let me know in the comments! I really, really want to know what you think 🙂

“We all just do the best we can with what we’ve go. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it ruins everything” 
― C.J. Redwine, Defiance

1 Star

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7 thoughts on “Defiance by C.J. Redwine (DNF Review)

  1. This book sounds somewhat similar to Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill, although they were written years apart. I think C. J. Redwine’s writing has gotten stronger as she writes more. Although her plots can be a bit convoluted and dry which sounds like this one was as well. Thanks for the explanation. I like that you didn’t bash the author in your critique!


  2. I haven’t read Ever the Hunted but from the Goodreads summary, it does sound similar.
    I’m sure it has! I haven’t read her other novels yet, but a friend of mine told me that she really liked The Shadow Queen!
    I was really worried that I was being too harsh with this review, but I always try to keep it only about the book. Stories are really subjective, after all, some people will like it and some won’t. Defiance just wasn’t for me 😦
    Thanks for the comment!


  3. Oh I hate the “not like other girls” trope :/ Yeah, I don’t think the world is as simple as girls must either be totally girly or not into girly things at all. The characterisation overall don’t sound great either. It’s a shame the world building was so vague too. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, that trope annoys me so much! 😀
      The setting in this book is really confusing, but I probably could’ve pushed through if it weren’t for the characters. They’re really annoying 😦
      Sorry for taking so long to reply! I haven’t been online in a while… 😦


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