- Date published: 11th September 2012
- Publisher: Atom (Hachette UK)
- Format: Paperback, 403 pages
- Series: The Courier’s Daughter, Book 1
- ISBN 13: 9781907411335
- Categories: YA Fantasy, Dystopian
- Goodreads / The Book Depository / Booktopia (AU) / Bookworld
- Source: provided for review by the publisher
Rachel’s world is confined to the protective walls around her city. Beyond them are violent wanderers, extreme terrain, and a danger straight out of legend: a beast called the Cursed One that devastates everything in its path.
When Rachel’s father goes missing, she is desperate to search for him. But her attempts to flee the city bring her to the attention of its overbearing ruler. His efforts to control her make the world within the walls seem as dangerous as that outside.
Her only chance at escape is Logan. Once her father’s apprentice, and now her only protector, he feels that helping her might mean losing her completely. But if he can put his feelings aside, they might be able to save more than Rachel’s father. They might be able to break down the walls, and set their people free.
I was wary about Defiance. My initial excitement about YA Fantasy emerging as a trend in publishing was slowly being quashed by the less than stellar examples I’d picked up to read in the last months. But Defiance breaks those moulds and proves it is possible for YA Fantasy to be as deep, sweeping and epic as Epic or High Fantasy written for adults.
The story is told in dual perspectives, with each chapter being narrated in first person by either Rachel or Logan. Both have unique voices, and even without each chapter telling me who is narrating on the first line, I would have been able to easily pick out Logan’s chapters from Rachel’s. Both are strong willed, with motivations that are easy to emphasise with, and Redwine’s choice in telling it from both points of view means we don’t have that angsty quality that usually marks YA, where readers are always wondering at the motivations behind the inexplicable things other characters do.
I liked the world of Defiance – I initially thought it was going to be a straight up, medieval inspired Fantasy, but it’s actually set a dystopian future of our world and there’s no magic involved! Arthur C. Clarke’s postulation that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic certainly holds true in this futuristic world – the technology is awesome! What makes Rachel remarkable is that women in this world are afforded the same rights as … women today in some Middle Eastern countries. While boys are taught to read, do arithmetic and trained in battle, women learn to sew, cook, obey men and act meekly around them. A woman can’t go outside without her Protector – the male citizen who is basically in charge of her. I don’t mind world, exactly, because it’s different and intriguing, but the reasons for female oppression are never explained. How did society regress back to Biblical times in this aspect? Are women so heavily ‘protected’, for example, because birth rates are too low in this future? The lack of explanation is the only thing I can really fault in the book.
While I loved the two protagonists of the story, the secondary characters deserve a mention because some of them are extremely memorable. The ruler of Baalboden, the city-state Logan and Rachel live in, is Commander Jason Chase, who takes terrifying to whole new lengths! In contrast, the steadfast and caring Oliver, who sees Rachel and Logan as grandchildren, is heart warming and wonderful. The Tree-People siblings who Rachel meets on her travels are refusing to read: Quinn with his stoic determination and his sister Willow with her loud mouthed opinions. The only downside is Quinn’s apparent interest in Rachel, I really hope there isn’t a love triangle in the future books.
Defiance is a wonderful read featuring two awesome protagonists and a cool world that I would love to learn more about. If you, like me, are interested in YA Fantasy then I strongly recommend this book to you! Fans of both high and epic fantasy, and YA will enjoy this book, and I am looking forward to continuing Rachel and Logan’s story in future books.