Defiance (Defiance #1)
by C.J. Redwine
published August 28, 2012 by Balzer + Bray
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.
At nineteen, Logan McEntire is many things. Orphan. Outcast. Inventor. As apprentice to the city's top courier, Logan is focused on learning his trade so he can escape the tyranny of Baalboden. But his plan never included being responsible for his mentor's impulsive daughter. Logan is determined to protect her, but when his escape plan goes wrong and Rachel pays the price, he realizes he has more at stake than disappointing Jared.
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.
It’s tempting to say that what makes a heroine strong are her kickbutt fighting skills—even better if she knows how to use a lethal weapon! But the truth is there are many kinds of strength, and having awesome fighting skills isn’t even one of them.
And yes, my heroine has awesome fighting skills and knows how to use a lethal weapon. But that isn’t what makes her strong. It’s just part of what she can DO with her strength.
Strength looks like self-awareness. Like the willingness to go deep inside herself, find her purpose, and then live it boldly. Strength looks like love. Like the choice to open her heart to others even when her heart has been broken in the past. Strength looks like intelligence. Like her brain is the most frequently used muscle in her body, and she isn’t about to sit back and let others figure out life while she sips a smoothie and paints her nails. Strength looks like courage in the face of fear. Like doing the one thing she’s terrified to do. Like giving someone a second chance. Like facing the world and lifting her voice to say “This … THIS … is the right thing to do, and I’m going to do it even if no one else does.”
Sometimes I think we get confused by all of the awesome fighter girls populating the YA landscape right now. We have girls in dystopians and fantasies and paranormals who can punch a man and make him cry. We have girls who can wield swords or kick like a ninja. Girls who can spy. Who can sneak. Who can take on the Establishment and win. We see these girls (and my heroine is one of them!) and we point to the flashy things they do and call it strength, but it isn’t.
Strength is internal. Without the will to fight, fighting skills mean nothing. Without the courage to stand up for what is right, knowing how to use a lethal weapon is as useful as knowing how to feed the cat. The girl who chooses to walk away from alcohol so she won’t become like her mother is strong. The girl who chooses to see past rumors, lies, and pain and love the person others despise is strong. The girl who picks herself up after tragedy rips apart her personal life is strong. The girl who chooses forgiveness over bitterness, who chooses to speak up when she’d rather be silent, who walks away from a toxic relationship even though it takes every ounce of will she has … all of them are just as strong as the girl taking on President Snow with a quiver of arrows on her back.
The real determining factor is choice. What a heroine chooses to do with what she’s got. Whether she chooses to rise up, take risks, and do the right thing. Sometimes that right thing is a quiet action no one ever sees. Sometimes it’s leading an army against a corrupt government.
When we recognize that real strength comes from the inside out, we make our heroines far more relatable to our readers because the truth is every girl has the power to be STRONG. Being able to disarm a man twice her size and kick like a ninja is just a fancy bonus.
This is a great post. I know as a reader I am always looking for not just a girl who can yield a weapon, but also a girl who stands up for what she believes in, to me that is much more important. Thanks for the great post C.J.!
C.J.'s Website / Twitter / Facebook
C.J.'s Website / Twitter / Facebook
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 at http://cjredwine.blogspot.com/