Author: C.J. Redwine
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication date: August 28th 2012
My rating: 5 Stars
Goodreads Description: 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.
*“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.”
Seventeen year-old Rachel Adams can’t believe it when all the searches are called off, and her father, Jared, is declared dead. He is the best tracker/courier for the city state of Baalboden. Rachel’s heart is crushed with grief and despair, but she knows deep down that if anyone can make it in the Wastelands that lie beyond the city gates, it’s her father. She now must attend the reading of his will to find out who will be assigned as her new Protector. Rachel has no doubt that Oliver, the trusted family friend and surrogate father, is the one that will be named. She is beyond shocked when Logan McEntire, her father’s apprentice and the one man she’s been avoiding for the last two years, is named as her Protector. This is the man she gave her heart to, only to have it handed right back. No matter though, because she doesn’t plan to stick around long enough for that decision to affect her. She starts planning a way to skirt over the protective city Wall and look for her father.
Nineteen year-old Logan is shocked to find out he’s been assigned as Protector over Rachel, the daughter of the man he considers his father. One who professed her love for him two years ago, but no longer even glances his way. Logan feels there’s no way he can take on this responsibility, especially when he has so little time to plan and execute a mission to locate Jared. Added to all of these problems is the Commander, the cruel and wicked ruler of Baalboden, who is watching every move Logan and Rachel’s makes. They figure out he doesn’t believe Jared is dead either and is suspicious that Logan or Rachel know he’s not.
I loved everything about this story! The characters, the pacing, the world, and of course, the romance! You will find no insta-love or triangle in this story. There are just two well-rounded and believable main characters. This is told is in dual POVs alternating between Rachel and Logan, and I felt the method worked rather well. We’re able to see the story and how things are felt from both sides, making it easy to connect with both main characters. Lack of communication between Rachel and Logan leads to them making bad decisions with major consequences. But shock!! (Because this seems to be so different from many YA stories.) These characters actually learn from their mistakes and do not keep repeating them. Thankfully, you aren’t frustrated throughout the entire novel, having to grit your teeth at every stupid decision! Their romance is very sweet, and like I said, no insta-love, but instead a slow and satisfying build-up. Here’s a little snippet to tempt you:
*Her lips brush mine, sweet and hesitant, and I open my eyes. She’s all I can see. All I can taste when I breathe in. Her body molds itself to mine like she was made for me, and I want her to feel it too. To acknowledge it.
I guess you would call this a steampunk novel set in a post-apocalyptic future world. There are futuristic-gadgets, and yet much of the advanced technology we have available in our world is gone. Customs and traditions seem to have reverted back to the past. The role of women has taken a big leap back, which left me furious in a few instances. Fortunately for Rachel, her father chose to ignore that custom and trained her to be a competent fighter. I can’t talk about the characters without mentioning the cruel and sinister Commander. I cringe at every scene he’s in! He seems to always have something up his sleeve, and I’m wondering if there’s something to that. There are reasons he’s in power, and I hope we’ll find out more in the next installment.
There are enough questions and things left undone that I’m anxious for the next book. Yet, we’re not left with the pain and frustration of a cliffhanger, just excited anticipation awaiting the next book. This is a brilliant debut from author C.J. Redwine!
Thank you to Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss for allowing me to read this wonderful story.
*Quotes taken from uncorrected proof and may change in the final copy.