When Baalboden is destroyed, the survivors are left to fend for themselves. The ragtag group elect Logan as their leader. With Rachel by his side, Logan is determined to get the survivors to the safety of another city-state. The survivors must leave the ruins of their home and take their chances in the Wasteland. But the Commander and a rival city-state’s army both want to take the device that controls the Cursed One for themselves.
Soon, it becomes clear that the survivors have a traitor among their ranks, who is killing them. Both Rachel and Logan are put under an unbearable strain, causing Logan and Rachel to wonder if their love will be shattered. Soon, everyone is questioning if they can survive the Wasteland.
The second book of the Defiance Series has wide plot holes, long and unrealistic fight scenes, and underdeveloped characters. Even though the story’s point of view alternates between Logan and Rachel, the two are frustrating characters to follow.
Rachel’s father trained her to defend herself, and Rachel is portrayed as an excellent fighter who can defeat male soldiers. Her daring acts in battle are described in long descriptive scenes that are completely unrealistic. In addition, Rachel is amazingly self-centered. When Rachel’s best friend Sylph dies, Rachel is distraught and only thinks about how Sylph’s death will affect her. Instead of being a heart-wrenching moment, Sylph is so underdeveloped that her death has little impact on the reader.
Most of the time, Logan only thinks about keeping Rachel alive. He feels guilty about everything and doesn’t trust anyone in his inner circle to help him keep the survivors safe. Even though Logan is surrounded by others who are older and more knowledgeable, Logan acts as if he is the only one intelligent enough to save the survivors. He over-thinks every situation and doubts his own abilities, but is still arrogant enough to think only he can find the solution to every problem. Plus, Logan’s repetitive inner dialogue is annoying.
This dystopian novel blends action and romance together; however, the story’s many flaws will leave readers wishing that they had left the book on the shelf. If you’re looking for an entertaining dystopian romance, you should read The Selection Series by Kiera Cass and the Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie.
- Rachel and Logan kiss several times. For example, Rachel gives Logan a “quick kiss.”
- Logan thinks “kissing Rachel is like discovering a new element—one that turns my blood into lava and sends sparks shooting straight through every logical thought still lingering in my head.”
- Rachel has a bad dream. When Logan wakes her, Rachel “raise[s] my head to kiss him, swallowing the rest of his words. My lips are harsh. My hands grip his arms. Claw his shoulders. . . This is what I need. This will make it better. I wrap my leg around his. . . I kiss him hard enough to hurt.” The scene is described over three pages.
- Rachel and another girl have a short conversation about Logan’s kissing abilities. Rachel thinks, “I lose myself for a moment in the thought of his callused fingers gently sliding over my back, his lips pressing urgently against mine, his breath quickening against my skin.”
- Rachel and Logan walk into a bedroom and see a husband and wife in bed together. Both the woman’s and man’s chest are exposed.
- Logan helps Rachel, who is injured, change clothes. Rachel’s skin “glows, my breath hitches in my throat, and a feeling just as real as the pain in my arm but infinitely more delicious spreads through my stomach in lazy spirals. . . His chest scrapes the sensitive skin along my back as he breathes in quick, little jerks as if he’s been running.” Logan admits being tempted by Rachel.
- The story begins with a multi-chapter battle. After Baalboden is destroyed, a group of soldiers try to enter the town to attack the survivors. “The first wave of soldiers crashes into the tiny band of survivors and the scream of metal against metal shivers through the air. . . Logan slams into another man, and their swords clash. We lunge, swing, hack, and parry with the Wall at our backs, and slowly gaining ground toward the gate.”
- During the above fight, Rachel “leap[s] to my feet, and he [a soldier] lunges toward me on legs suddenly too weak to hold him. I follow his gaze as he stares down at the deep cut on his thigh, at the blood gushing out of his artery with every beat of his heart.” Another soldier attacks and Rachel “slice[s] my knife across his neck as he turns. Blood spurts, and I stagger back as it arcs toward me.”
- A soldier pens Rachel down. Rachel jabs “the knife into the soft meat of the soldier’s leg, and he stiffens, his grip on my Switch arm loosening slightly. Before he can recover, I snap my head back, smashing my skull into his nose.” A man helps Rachel “as he wrenches the man’s sword arm to an impossible angle. The soldier screams in agony as the sickening crack of a bone ripping apart from its tendons fill the air.”
- During the battle, Willow uses a bow and arrow and “takes them [soldiers] both down in less than ten seconds.” Rachel looks “away before I can see the blood that pours out of their wounds and spreads across the soot-stained cobblestones beneath them.” After the fighting, Logan gives an order “to strip the soldiers’ bodies of anything we can use.”
- Rachel thinks back to when she killed a man. “My knife. His chest. Blood covering me as I sat horrified.”
- When soldiers attack, Rachel tries to keep them away from the others. “I plant my right foot, lean back slightly, and snap my left leg into the air, kicking his windpipe with my boot. He drops to the floor. . .” She kills the man, but other soldiers attack her. “I slash my knife, sticking into a soldier’s neck. A line of brilliant red spills across his coat and splashes onto my hand.” Many of the soldiers are killed in bloody detail.
- The Cursed One attacks a group of survivors. “A thick stream of red-gold fire spews out of its snout. Frankie dives beneath it, but flames grab hold of his tunic and his clothing ignites. He rolls across the grass, extinguishing the flames.” Frankie dies.
- Someone slits a man’s throat. Logan finds the body. “I shake him and watch in horror as his head tips back, revealing the thick crimson slice across the base of his neck.”
- While in the forest, someone throws a rock at Logan, making his head bleed.
- As the group of survivors flees, highwaymen attack. Rachel leads their counterattack. “The highwaymen are converging on me. . . I dive out from under his feet before he can finish swinging his sword at me. His momentum carries him past me, and I slash the tendons behind his knees with my blade.” When the man is down, Rachel goes after another one. “I snatch my knife and lunge to my feet, bringing my weapon in his sternum as I stand. He deflates slowly, and I shove him away as he crumples. . .” Twenty-three of the highwaymen are killed.
- An army attacks the group. The survivors throw jars full of acid and “the cypress explodes in a shower of splinters, branches, and shards of bark the size of my arm. . . A handful of soldiers are crushed beneath the trunks. Still more are bleeding from gaping wounds to their heads, arms, and legs. . . The soldiers closest to the explosion are thrown onto their backs, their skin riddled with cuts.” The survivors escape by blowing up a bridge. The fight takes place over eight pages.
- One of the survivors, Willow, jumps into the river to save someone. When a solider goes after her, Rachel shoots him with an arrow. “He staggers, reaches up to grab the arrow, and falls backward into the river. Three more arrows fly, and all of the injured soldiers stop moving.”
- As the survivors are resting, the rocks near them begin to explode. “Before they can move, another piece of the ground bursts into flames, right beneath the feet of an older man. . . He screams, a long, high wail of agony that tapers off into silence as his body twists away from the fire and falls to the grass in a smoldering heap.” Rachel pushes a child out of danger’s way. The stone explodes and “pain—searing, vicious pain unlike any I’ve ever felt—blazes a trail of agony down my right forearm. I scream and belly crawl away from the terrible heat that reaches for me.” Many people die or are injured. The scene is described over seven pages.
- Two of the characters reveal that they killed their father. The father’s death is not described.
- Rachel is kidnapped. Quinn tires to stop the traitor. “He drags me to my feet, but Quinn is already there, crouched and shaking, his breath rattling in the back of his throat like a trapped animal. . . Quinn falls to the ground and disappears beneath the cloud of smoke.” Rachel tries to escape, but the traitor finally “balls up his fist and slams it into the side of my head. . . then my ears ring, my eyes close, and darkness takes me.” The scene is described over eight pages.
- When Rachel insults the traitor, “the knife plunges down, slicing through my bandage and digging into burned flesh. I scream as raw agony blisters my arm.”
Drugs and Alcohol
- Someone poisons the survivors with castor seed poison, which cannot be cured.
- Several times people are injured and are given pain medication.
- When soldiers try to ram their way into the city, Logan prays that the survivors have time to escape.
- When the Cursed One attacks a group of survivors, Frankie gives his life to save them. “I [Rachel] close my eyes, praying that Frankie dies quick and that the pain is over in seconds. Praying that the monster leaves once he’s satisfied his prey is dead. Praying that everyone else has the good sense to honor Frankie’s sacrifice by remaining silent.”
- While holding an infant, Rachel prays “that I don’t break her.”
- When Rachel is kidnapped, Logan prays that she is okay.