Sunday, August 4, 2013

Book Review: The Defiance by A.G. Henley

I remember reading "The Scourge" last year and completely falling for its believable, unique characters and its thrilling storyline. It felt like I was in the forest with Fenn and Peree as they uncovered secrets long hidden, listening to the sound of animals and inhaling the scent of summer. Long story short, I loved it! (You can find the review here!) So when I read on A.G. Henley's blog that the sequel, "The Defiance", in the "Brilliant Darkness" series was being released just last week, I knew I had to get my grubby little hands on it. Of course, I squealed a little in excitement when I got to the cover page, and squealed a little more when I reached the ending! But lemme just start from the beginning.

Not long ago, Fennel and Peree have discovered the impossible truth: the much feared Scourge, and their world, are not what they seem. Now, the Sightless Groundling and the Lofty Keeper are determined to guide their people to the safety of the village of Koolkuna, even if it means exposing the lies their lives were built on--a task more difficult than they'd imagined. And when someone nails animal corpses to Fennel's wall, Fenn and Peree know that not everyone will accept change so easily, even if it means living in constant fear and danger. With the fragile peace between the Groundlings and the Lofties unraveling, Fenn must decide how much she's willing to sacrifice for the happiness of her people--and herself.

I loved Fenn's character in "The Scourge", and I continued to do so in "The Defiance". She's an undeniably strong, compassionate heroine who dedicates so much to her people, even if they were the reason she is Sightless. Her unwavering loyalty is also present in her relationships with her family and friends--her love and protectiveness over her little brother Eland is sweet and understandable, and evokes a lot of emotion as you see their relationship throughout the book. On top of all that, Fenn also possesses some killer wit, which makes her all the more endearing! Who doesn't like a funny protagonist? Despite her strengths, however, Fenn also struggles with her weaknesses, from her inner battle between staying behind as the water bearer for her people and leaving to Koolkuna with Peree for a life of happiness, to her dormant terror of the Scourge, whom she learned to fear ever since she was born. These shortcomings are what make Fenn a truly realistic and engaging main character, and you just cannot help but like her.

Of course, Peree can't go unmentioned here! If I liked Peree in the first book, I absolutely loved him in the second. While in "The Scourge" you saw the development of Peree and Fenn's feelings for each other, in "The Defiance", you see just how strong their relationship is in the face of obstacles as they search for a way to find happiness together. Peree is unfailingly understanding and supportive of Fenn as she struggles with her losses and questions the worth of leaving her home, and knows when to be there for her, or when to let her have some breathing space. I do have to admit, I was a little surprised by how quickly the whole 'intended' thing went, especially toward the end of the novel--they're just teens! But maybe that's just how the Groundlings and Lofties do it...

The plot of "The Defiance" was fairly compelling throughout the length of the novel. There's definitely tension woven into the storyline, like when Moray and Fenn have their little spats, or when Fenn discovers more truths that lead her to question the Council of Three. However, I felt like there was too much time spent on the lead-up to the actual crux of the plot, with the whole preparations for the journey and whatnot. The pace might've been a little quicker and the plot even more engaging if Ms. Henley had condensed the first half or so of the novel, but other than that, the storyline was interesting and exciting--especially at the end! I knew something like that would happen, I just knew it!

Overall, "The Defiance" is a great second installment to the "Brilliant Darkness" series, with incredibly likable and engaging characters, a believable, strong romance, and a pretty exciting plot. Fans of "The Scourge" will definitely love this book, and I cannot wait for the next book!

Rating: 4/5

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