Defiance by C.J. Redwine

I am taking part in a new meme hosted by What’s Beyond Forks? where we take a book that’s been on our TBR list and we review it!

I had heard about this book leading up to its release through other blogger friends and I totally meant to get it, but I just never had a chance to. A few months after this was released I got so overwhelmed with school and I just stopped reading for a long time. I went to the SCBWI MidSouth Conference in Sept. and had a face-to-face with Holly Root who recommended that I read this book based on the kind of book that I was writing.

I immediately bought it once I got home from the conference and I read about 65 pages and…didn’t read anymore. I was still at a point where reading was difficult for me because I was just so busy, but then at the very end of January I got a new job that actually affords me a life outside of work so I put it back on my list.

So here is the long overdue review for Defiance by C.J. Redwine.

From Goodreads

Author: C.J. Redwine
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Source: Purchased

Defiance by C. J. Redwine is rich postapocalyptic YA fantasy perfect for fans of Graceling and Tamora Pierce.

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.

This book was a ride! It’s extremely well-paced, quick without leaving out any important details. I am usually really averse to having two characters followed in narrations, but lately I have had so much success with these type of books and this one was in that group. Switching between Logan and Rachel worked really well for this story.
We got to see the developing relationship between the two from both of their perspectives and it was a real treat! Redwine did such a fantastic job with Logan’s inner thoughts. He’s a guy and there is a whole internal conversation he has about Rachel’s breasts in a dress and it’s hilarious! She did not shy away from that and I am so happy because it only made him even more realistic as a character.
The way that Rachel handles grief was perfect! I love when we get to see characters who aren’t strong all the time, that’s not realistic and gives people who read it a very difficult bar to follow.
There were several elements that helped turn this from a traditional post-apocalyptic into a fantasy; the Cursed One, Baalboden, and the Tree People. The Cursed One is a monstrous creature who came out of the ground when humans dug too deep. He is described as a wingless dragon in the book but for some reason in my head he still has wings. I have no idea why that happened, but his description is very clear, but my brain is crazy I guess. Baalboden is the town that they live in and honestly doesn’t feel like anything in our world right now which made it perfect. The people live under the ruthless Commander, who seems to be the only person the Cursed One is afraid of. We only very very briefly get to see the Tree People and I wish we would have actually gotten to see one of their villages. I know that there are two more books, so maybe we will see them then?
Overall this book was great, it was action packed, filled with romance in the face of death and danger, and a monster that destroyed humanity as it was known. I can’t wait to order the other two books and get to read them!

The Mirror King by Jodi Meadows

Title: The Mirror King

Author: Jodi Meadows

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Publication Date: April 5, 2016

Source: Purchased

From Goodreads

Wilhelmina has a hundred enemies.

HER FRIENDS HAVE TURNED. After her identity is revealed during the Inundation, Princess Wilhelmina is kept prisoner by the Indigo Kingdom, with the Ospreys lost somewhere in the devastated city. When the Ospreys’ leader emerges at the worst possible moment, leaving Wil’s biggest ally on his deathbed, she must become Black Knife to set things right.

HER MAGIC IS UNCONTROLLABLE. Wil’s power is to animate, not to give true life, but in the wraithland she commanded a cloud of wraith mist to save herself, and later ordered it solid. Now there is a living boy made of wraith—destructive and deadly, and willing to do anything for her.

HER HEART IS TORN. Though she’s ready for her crown, declaring herself queen means war. Caught between what she wants and what is right, Wilhelmina realizes the throne might not even matter. Everyone thought the wraith was years off, but already it’s destroying Indigo Kingdom villages. If she can’t protect both kingdoms, soon there won’t be a land to rule.

In this stunning conclusion to THE ORPHAN QUEEN, Jodi Meadows follows Wilhelmina’s breathtaking and brave journey from orphaned criminal on the streets to magic-wielding queen.

Let me start by saying that this book hurts. This book hurt me so much more than I thought it was going to, but I wouldn’t change it at all. Jodi Meadows poured so much into this novel and it came at me in a totally different way than the Incarnate series that will forever hold a place in my heart. Even now, writing this review, my chest still hurts thinking about Wil’s journey. Heartache and terror and beauty and splendor all wrapped up into this gift that Meadows has given the world.
War and wraith come to Wil in The Mirror King. We rejoin Wil in the Indigo Kingdom with the wraith boy she created unknowingly on her journey to the wraithland. During The Orphan Queen I was disappointed we hadn’t gotten to see more of Wil’s time in the wraithland, but I realized that we learned everything we needed to know. Wil’s story is so much more than being able to survive against wraith beasts, and I should have realized it a lot sooner.
Wil’s story is about struggling to discover who she really is, as is evident when she doesn’t even know what her own handwriting is. She can slip into different identities and handwritings seamlessly, but when faced with trying to be herself she struggles. This was such a great way for Meadows to tackle a topic that so many young adults go through without making it over the top and obvious.
Another really great element was the romance. I wanted so badly for Tobiah and Wil to be together, but there were too many obstacles in the way. My mind conjured up a million different ways for them to be together, but they all kept coming back to the same thing: Meredith was perfect. Meredith who knows that Tobiah doesn’t love her, but loves him no matter what. Meredith who is the queen the Indigo Kingdom needs. Watching everyone dance around that complication was interesting to read and made me so sad at the same time because I felt like there would be no happy ending for anyone. Tobiah and Meredith end up together and Wil is heartbroken. Tobiah and Wil end up together a whole slew of other people are heartbroken.
In The Mirror King we finally get a glimpse at Aecor, the kingdom Wil has waited nine years to reclaim. Prince Colin, the overlord of the territory and the impending wraith and war complicate what should have been a wonderful moment for her. There’s this great moment in the book where Wil mentions that she has spent the last nine years waiting to return home to Aecor, but that a part of her would always recognize the Indigo Kingdom as home.
As with every Jodi Meadows book, magic is weaved so realistically into the novel. It’s an integral part of the book, magic causes wraith and wraith is the incoming doom for both countries. These two things will have a huge impact on Wil’s life at the end of the novel.
Why was this book so painful to read? Every one of Jodi Meadows books has a twist that only she can come up with. It’s one of the reasons why every single book I’ve read by her have been five star books. The twists/surprises in this book is one of the reasons why this book was so painful. It all stems from the bleak reality of war.
Meadows does not shy away from showing the gruesome events that happen in war and the choices those in power need to make. She shows how painful conflict can be and how in a real war not everyone lives. Not. Everyone. Lives. Hence the ache in my chest that hasn’t left me since I read it.
I can’t talk about the rest of the amazing elements to this book because I don’t want to give spoilers. I wish that everyone would read this book so that I can talk freely about what’s in between the book covers.

Orphan Queen by Jodi Meadows

Title: Orphan Queen
Author: Jodi Meadows
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

From Goodreads

Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others.

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

From the very first page of The Orphan Queen I was swept away on a fantastical and gritty journey.
Wilhelmina (Wil), is the exiled teenage queen of a country, and people, that doesn’t know she is still alive. After witnessing her parents murder as a young child, she and other high born children are whisked away to the Indigo Kingdom. Fast forward and Wil now is part of the Ospreys who steal to survive. She encounters the vigilante Black Knife during one of these thefts setting up a series of encounters throughout the book.
Wil goes undercover in the palace and frequently comes into contact with king who she blames for the downfall of her kingdom and the death of her father. While plotting to take back her kingdom she also has to deal with the wraith, a toxic magical residue sweeping across the land and destroying everything in its path.

I loved every single thing about this book! I have always been a huge fan of Jodi Meadows; the Incarnate books are some of my all-time favorite books. I own digital and physical copies because I love them all so much. When I picked up The Orphan Queen I was immediately swept into the same feeling of wonder and love that I felt while reading Incarnate.
Meadows creates such a sophisticated fantasy world grounded with the rules of reality. Perfectly blending mystical elements such as magic and wraith with the human struggles of trying to figure out where you belong in life, the world of The Orphan Queen is so easy to get lost in.
One of my favorite things about Wil is her incredible strength and will to do whatever is needed to protect the lives of those she cares about, while also questioning the integrity of people she once trusted.
The romance in this book is effortlessly paced, not too quick and not too slow. It’s a slow build throughout the story that ends in the most perfectly crushing way. I love that while the reader knows from the very beginning Wil has multiple identity, I love that her romantic interest is the same way. They are so similar, yet so different, and I was rooting for them as soon as I realized what was happening.
I would have liked to see more of the Ospreys and the wraithland. Meadows introduces this big dangerously mysterious place and we only get a little glimpse into it, I would have loved for Wil to have had a larger adventure there.
The book also has a creepy element to it that reminds me of some of the elements of Incarnate. If this is any idea of what all of Meadow’s future books will be like I am so excited. The Orphan Queen has so many elements to it; fantasy, humanity, survival, and creepy, and they all blend together so well. Meadow’s just has this amazing way of blending everything together seamlessly making me want to ready every single thing of hers as soon as it comes out. The Mirror King is the sequel to The Orphan Queen and I ordered it the second I finished reading.
The Orphan Queen was a fantastic book that I would recommend to all fantasy lovers.

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

Title: The Forgetting
Author: Sharon Cameron
Release Date: September 13, 2016
Source: Purchased

From Goodreads

What isn’t written, isn’t remembered. Even your crimes.

Nadia lives in the city of Canaan, where life is safe and structured, hemmed in by white stone walls and no memory of what came before. But every twelve years the city descends into the bloody chaos of the Forgetting, a day of no remorse, when each person’s memories – of parents, children, love, life, and self – are lost. Unless they have been written.

In Canaan, your book is your truth and your identity, and Nadia knows exactly who hasn’t written the truth. Because Nadia is the only person in Canaan who has never forgotten.

But when Nadia begins to use her memories to solve the mysteries of Canaan, she discovers truths about herself and Gray, the handsome glassblower, that will change her world forever. As the anarchy of the Forgetting approaches, Nadia and Gray must stop an unseen enemy that threatens both their city and their own existence – before the people can forget the truth. And before Gray can forget her.

The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron takes readers into a richly built world where every twelve years the citizens of Canaan forget all of their memories. The tagline, “What isn’t written, isn’t remembered. Even your crimes” sets the reader up to know that we are about to embark on a twisting tale where presumably the protagonist, Nadia, is going to discover some deep dark secrets about Canaan. Discovering is just what she does.
We are introduced to Nadia as she is climbing back over the wall from the outside, which is forbidden. Right away we know that this girl is all sorts of badass. She is the girl that readers want to be from the very first page. Fiercely independent, but still a loving daughter to a mother who can’t really connect to her, she breaks all kinds of rules while trying to discover the mysteries of Canaan. Why do their memories disappear every twelve years? And why can Nadia remember everything?
Along the way we meet the mysterious Gray, the glassblower’s son who has a connection to Nadia from a past he cannot remember. Immediately the reader is both suspicious of Gray and rooting for him to be a good guy because we want him and Nadia together so bad. Together they discover the dark history of Canaan in a twist I did not see coming, but loved every second of.
Nadia fights for the people of Canaan until the very last moment. She is a girl we can all aspire to be like. Typical to a Cameron novel the build is slower than with some other YA books, but it doesn’t make it any less interesting. This is a smart, wonderful, exciting journey I loved being on and think everyone should check out.