by: C.J. Redwine
Within the walls of Baalboden, beneath the shadow of the city's brutal leader, Rachel Adams has a secret. While other girls sew dresses 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 one who handed her heart right back to her. Left with nothing but a 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.
this book wasn't at all what I was expecting, but that's a really good thing. It was a lot darker than most YA books that I've read and I thought it showed a very genuine side to both grief and anger. It took me forever to finish this one, something was weird with the pacing of it that I couldn't quite put my finger on, but that was one of my very few complaints.
Brave and Kind of Scary Heroine: CHECK
Dare* Adams. She's both admirable and pretty dang kick-butt, but she's also a bit scary in places. I loved how both her and Logan had such obvious character flaws that got them into actual problems. Rachel was moody, stubborn and often wouldn't think things through before resorting to violence. She was also very impulsive. But what could never be said of her is that she is selfish or cowardly. The way her grief was written was so touching and so thorough. It wasn't the typical, "I am sad. I am crying. Now I am going on with my life." It was real and visceral. Redwine so perfectly showcased the shift she felt from grief and shock to full-fledged fury and a need for revenge that swallowed everything else. I loved this quote, it shows how truly the grief was captured in the writing,
"A yawning darkness within me opens wide, whispering promises to take the pain. Swallow the loss. Make it possible to draw breath without choking on the shattered pieces no one will ever fix."
I could feel her need for revenge and often found myself shuddering when she was saying that she would stop at nothing to destroy the Commander. And for once the girl didn't feel inadequate and like the boy deserved better than her for no reason, Rachel felt like the blood on her hands and the fury inside her could never be loved. She might have been right about other people, but Logan would never leave her when she needs him most.
*Percy Jackson reference? anyone? anyone? Okay, never mind...
Intelligent and Brave Hero: CHECK
Again, Logan had obvious flaws that both got him into trouble and moved the plot along. He lost his temper and was insanely jealous over Rachel. The difference between him and Rachel is that he never let his anger get the best of him (except for that one time that it got him locked up...). He would think himself out of it so he could keep his level head. I think it was partly because he was already so used to losing everything that he didn't lose his mind as much as Rachel did when confronted with Oliver and Jared's fates. It just made him feel the need to destroy the Commander that much deeper ingrained in him. Also, can I just say that it is so typically boy that it took Logan being imprisoned and nearly losing Rachel forever for him to realize that he was in love with her. for realz.
Extraordinary Supporting Characters: CHECK
Melkin: I never decided if I liked him or not, but I did feel very sorry for him. He was just trying to protect his wife and unborn child. And while I can't blame Rachel for what happened, because she really thought she was acting in self-defense, I also hate that it happened. Yet still Rachel hasn't learned the lesson not to act impulsively. I think I feel some major character development coming on.
Nola: Gosh, I can't wait to see more of Nola. She's pretty kick-butt. I mean, she starts ordering people around like it's nothing, because somebody has got to do it.
Willow: Talk about sass! Goodness, I loved it every time this girl opened her mouth and sass just came pouring out. I want to see more Willow.
Quinn: I REALLY love him. I knew that there had to be something deeper than that seemingly impenetrable calm to him. Then we learned what it was, it just made it more sweet that he sat by Rachel when she was grieving and when she was horrified at herself. Because he had lived through that guilt just as she had to.
Oliver: Why did he have to be taken away... he had such awesome/awkward moments and was just sweet and good at giving advice. *cries*
Jared: One thing I didn't like was that I never got to care about Jared. I mean, I was sad when you learn what happened and everything, but I only felt bad for what it meant for Rachel and Logan, not for what it meant for him.
Excellent Plot and Great Setting: CHECK
This book didn't just address the typical Dystopian problems, like a corrupt government and an overall messed up world. For me the biggest theme in this book was the delicate balance between saving loved ones and all those under the Commander's rule an yet not losing oneself in the process. Both Logan and Rachel wanted revenge, but you have to look at what it cost. Their quest for revenge cost them Oliver and Melkin and the entire city of Baalboden. Yet they still want it. It's choosing between staying under a ruler who abuses his power and kills innocent people just because he can or rebelling against his control and in the process losing possibly just as many innocent people. It's a difficult moral dilemma and not one that can be taken lightly nor is it taken lightly by Rachel or Logan. But if they were to turn back then everyone already lost would have died for nothing.
Plot Twists and Action: CHECK
There are a lot of little plot twists in this book, like a small plan gets thwarted or they get thrown a little off course. Then there were the big plot twists, like the entirety of Baalboden getting burned to the ground and many of the deaths. And there were plenty of action scenes, from fighting a whole battalion from Rowansmark or fighting the Cursed One. My biggest problem with this book was the pacing of it. It wasn't that there were long stretches where nothing was happening, because that wasn't the case. I could not figure out exactly what it was, but something was off. It took me a really long time (around 6 days) to read this book, but not because I wasn't interested in it or loving it. (But that was a VERY minor problem and could just as easily have been my fault and not the book's). I did love how not all the twists were earth-shattering, mind-blowing revelations. Sometimes subtle changes in plot do wonders for the reading experience.
Overall this was a great read that I absolutely loved. I am SO looking forward to reading the rest of this series.
Dear August 27th,
an impatient reader.
Dear August 27th,
an impatient reader.
"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 it up."
"The memory burns within me, a bed of live coals I swear I'll stop walking across."
"Diplomacy is a lot easier to accomplish if you've got your foe on his knees hoping you don't lop off his head."
"Losing your head in a crisis is a good way to become the crisis."
"She lingers over the word tomorrow as if her dreams are pinned to it. Maybe they are."
"I never thought it was fair that anatomy decided what my brain was fit for."
"Nothing is going to stop me, either," she says, and I hear the warrior she's becoming coat her grief with purpose."
"Let him look into my eyes and discover the girl he thought he understood is gone and in her place stands a weapon of his own creation."
"Silent acquiescence in the face of tyranny is no better than outright agreement."
"Once I would've taken those words as a romantic, sugar-coated fairy tale and built a castle of dreams on them. Now, they're a hard-won promise forged in fire and loss by a man who means every word he says. I want to brand them into my skin as proof that I still have something left to fight for."
"He's offering me the one thing of beauty I can still claim as my own. I have to cling to it if I ever want to find my way back to the girl I used to be. And it isn't fair of me to deny him the truth just because I worry it means less coming from someone as broken as me."
"They're broken, but they aren't beaten. They want to live. Not just breathe in and out, watching one day fade into the next. They want to live."