Thursday, April 28, 2011

Review: Defiance

Title: Defiance (Strange Angels, Book 4)
Author: Lili St. Crow
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: April 19, 2011

Now that sixteen-year-old Dru's worst fears have come true and Sergej has kidnapped her best friend Graves, she'll have to go on a suicidal rescue mission to bring him back in one piece. That is, if she can put all of Christophe's training to good use, defeat her mother's traitor, Anna, once and for all, and manage to survive another day. . .
The aptly-named Defiance finds Dru taking control of her actions to a greater extent, though still dealing with the emotional fallout of past events. Her narrative is imbued with all the honesty, toughness and attitude that make Dru such a kickass character. I just wish she wasn’t so easily deceived. The twists in Defiance and this series as a whole – most notably Anna’s defection in the previous book – are pretty predictable given the traitorous characters’ personalities. Nathalie is a welcome addition to the cast; Dru’s somewhat bumbling attempts at female friendship are fun and thankfully lack any undertones of backstabbing, betrayal, or bitchery.

Lili St. Crow has a unique writing style that works more often than not. For example, the oft-repeated phrase “danger candy” grated on my senses, but the crisp, gritty diction also kept me consistently interested.

The love triangle is one of the most well-crafted I’ve read in ages: both Christophe and Graves are appealing (to Dru and the reader) in different ways. Christophe is more heavily featured in Defiance – it’s about time! – but it’s impossible to ignore the connection Dru feels with Graves despite his physical absence. If/when he does appear, Graves is at his best when he’s his nerdy, Goth-boy self, rather than an uber-dominant loup-garou. Christophe also seems more typical of the vampiric love interests popularized by the YA urban fantasy genre: hot, mysterious, old and tortured by the past. I appreciate that St. Crow has developed their respective relationships to the extent that the End Pairing – assuming there is one – isn’t a foregone conclusion in the second-to-last book, as is the case with so many love triangles.

And the ending of Defiance is made of win. Fight scenes, the return of monster-whopping Dru, and more “blooming” svetocha development. However, like its predecessors, Defiance feels more like an appetizer than a main course. A sharp, tangy-delicious appetizer, but why does the meal have to end just when it’s getting good? Okay, eye roll-worthy food metaphor over.

Overall, Defiance is a fast-paced read with a strong main character, endearing love triangle, and plenty of action. It suffers from predictable plot twists and a short length that just whets readers’ appetites, but I still eagerly await the sixth and final book, Reckoning, out in November!

Rating: 3.5/5

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