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.
Like the thick stone and steel walls which surround the city of Baalboden, the archaic rules of the society are as restrictive to the people as they are protective.
Under the guise of Protection women are brought up to be dependent on the males in their life and obedient to them. Designated to the care and responsibility of a Protector, usually their father and later, a husband, women have no autonomy. Instead all decisions, from where a woman can go to whom she can marry, are made for her.
Every movement is chaperoned and traceable and the punishments for non-compliance are extreme; the last woman caught visiting the market without her protector accompanying her, was subjected to capital punishment.
While her peers were playing house Rachel, a motherless only child, was training with knives, swords and a bow. When her cohort’s educations focused on their future role as wives and mothers, Rachel was encouraged to think for herself.
Impulsive, often to the detriment of those associated with her and despite the potential repercussions, Rachel has no qualms about dropping everything, scaling the wall that encloses the city and searching for her missing father Jared.
As the only other person with the conviction that Jared still lives, Logan should be a natural ally in the search for Rachel’s missing parent. But an animosity exists between them, born out of hurt pride, humiliation and awkwardness.
While Rachel is impetuous, Logan is a deep analytical thinker, considering the best and worst case scenarios for every plan of action. Don’t be fooled by his attention to detail, nerdy focus on his inventions and awkwardness around the opposite sex. Logan is a hot boy with a sword and he knows exactly how to use it.
I really don’t know how to effectively express my love for this fantastic debut.
CJ has crafted a pacey, action packed, kick-arse, pseudo-historical dystopian, with fantasy, sci-fi and Steampunk elements. Thrilling, heart in your mouth action, sits side by side with uncomfortably honest narration, emotive, gut retching scenes, profound observations and an almost poetic descriptive prose.
Rather than being uncomfortably full and sickly from taking a bite out of every pie you are left with the experience of having tried a wonderfully unique flavor combination that experimental chef Heston Blumenthal would be proud of.
A romance junkie at heart, I simply adored the developing relationship between the two main protagonists. A foundation of friendship, turned sour by defensive pride, our protagonists have to wade through misunderstanding and miss communications before acknowledging that their uncomfortable, passionate responses to each other are formed from love, not hate.
Not only has CJ created two flawed but immensely likeable characters whose chemistry sizzles off of the page. But by writing a first person, dual narrative she has given us front row seats to the toe curling, breath catching action
Verdict: I feel like CJ Redwine sat down with a checklist of my favorite fictional ingredients, seamlessly combining them together in to one spectacularly decorated, mouthwatering treat. All that was missing from this surprising gift was an out of tune rendition of “Happy Birthday ”.
Review and interview questions by Caroline
Big Book Little Book is delighted to welcome C J Redwine to talk about Defiance, work-life balance and sticky buns!
C.J. Redwine loves stilettos, lemon bars, and any movie starring Johnny Depp. She lives in Nashville with her husband, four kids, two cats, and one long-suffering dog. To learn more about C.J., visit her website.
What was your inspiration for Defiance?
For years, I’d had the idea of a Leviathon-like creature living underground with the capability to destroy our world if anyone accidentally released him. Then one day I saw a picture of a fortress and it reminded me of a city-state. I said “What if we lived in city-states again? Why would we do that?” One idea collided with another, and Defiance was born.
What attracted you to write a pseudo-historical society rather than one in which the inhabitant attempt to rebuild?
I’ve always loved reading about the medieval times, and I thought it would be fun to come up with a scenario in which we’d have to revert to that in some ways (though we still retain the knowledge gained before the apocalyptic event that destroyed society, so we aren’t totally turning back the clock). I’m always far more interested in swords and catapults and horse-drawn wagons than in guns and cell phones and fancy cars.
Logan’s inventions, made of wood, copper and cogs, have a definite Steampunk feel. Was it a conscious decision to include steampunk elements to Defiance or was it a case of the best fit for the world you had created?
It was a case of what materials would actually be available to him, and what he could somewhat realistically do with those materials. But I’m a definite fan of steampunk, so it was fun to give a little nod to that.
I loved reading both protagonists point of view. I understand that you initially wrote from single viewpoint. What prompted you to include Logan’s perspective?
I realized that Logan had an equal stake in the trilogy (both with his backstory and with his actions) as Rachel, and so he deserved a chance to tell his story. Plus, he was going to do some REALLY cool things while apart from Rachel, and I wanted the reader to be able to see that.
If Defiance came with a soundtrack which artists would feature on it?
Hans Zimmer, Red, In This Moment, Evanescence, and One Republic
How is work progressing on the rest of the Courier’s Daughter trilogy?
Book two is in edits right now, and book 3 is begging me to write it! 🙂
Was there a particular book, person (author or civilian) or event, which inspired you to become a writer?
I started writing stories in second grade after I read C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. It was my first fantasy book, and it just cracked my imaginative world wide open.
Like the BBLB team, and many of our readers, you are a busy mother (of FOUR no less!). How on earth do you manage to fit your writing in around a busy home life? Do you treat it like any other job, 9-5 with set childcare, or is it a case of catching time whenever you can? How do you maintain your work-life-balance?
I am probably super un-balanced, so…I won’t give advice on that aspect, lol. But I fit it in around my toddler’s naptime and then after bedtime at night. And at least two days a week, I head to the local bookstore after my hubby comes home and write at the coffee shop for a few hours.
In your personal and writing life do you associate more with Logan, planning to the nth degree or are you more impulsive and spontaneous like Rachel?
I’m much more like Rachel than Logan. I fly by the seat of my pants half the time, and thinking through science and logic like he does just breaks my brain.
Do you use anything to sustain you during the writing process? Coffee? Chocolate? Music?
Music! I build a playlist specific to each story.
One of the reasons we created Big Book Little Book was to share our passion for reading with children. Which books have you particularly enjoyed sharing with your own children?
My toddler and I love reading Goodnight Moon together every night as she goes to bed. For the boys, I’ve loved introducing them to Harry Potter, the Chronicles of Narnia, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
In Defiance as grandfatherly Oliver comforts Rachel he says
“It’s probably my job to tell you life isn’t fair, but I figure you already know that…So instead, I’ll tell you that hope is precious, and you’re right not to give up.”
How close is this piece of advice to your own personal ethos?
Oh, I believe that wholeheartedly. It’s one of the messages I hope readers take away from this trilogy. Sometimes hope is the hardest, most slippery thing to hold on to, but it’s always worth it.
What is the most important or memorable piece of advice you have ever received?
The only way to truly fail is to quit, so if you really want to do something, don’t quit.
As our Novel Nibbles feature will testify, I am a little obsessed with recreating food from my favorite books. Are any of Oliver’s baked goods based on actual recipes?
I was really close to my grandfather on my mother’s side. I had a very rough childhood, but he was my rock. He showed me what quiet, unconditional love looked like, and I based Oliver on him. He always baked for us, and one of his favourite treats to make was sticky buns! They’re like yeasty rolls with cinnamon and raisins inside and then they’re drizzled in a sticky maple-cinnamon syrup after they come out of the oven. I don’t have his recipe, he died before I could get it, but I wanted to honor what he meant to me by putting him in a book.
I would like to send out a huge thanks to C. J for stopping by to answers our questions and for writing such a fantastic addition to the YA dystopian genre. Now please excuse me while I scour the internet for bun recipes!