This cover is fierce! *stares in awe*Thank you to Edelweiss and Balzar & Bray (Harper Teen) for this ARC! I've been dying to read this for a long time now and I literally cried when I found out I was getting my chance. This book had me laughing, crying, and chain chewing (gum) because it was so intense at times. It's a thrilling adventure of love, loyalty and hope that will suck you in from the first page.While most girls within the walled city of Baalboden were learning the importance of how to cook, sew and behave properly in public, sixteen year old Rachel Adams was also learning how to take care of herself with sharp objects. (She can gut you like a fish!) Her father Jared, Baalboden's top courier made sure she knew how to wield a sword and what to do in order to survive the Wastelands. He taught her well, so well in fact, that when he fails to return home after his most recent courier mission and is declared dead, Rachel decides to go looking for him. (I would volunteer to go with her and offer to carry her Switch.)Danger lies beyond the wall but it could be more dangerous for Rachel to stay. In order to escape, she'll have to defy not only The Commander, Baalboden's tyrant leader but her newly appointed Protector as well; a man with the potential to do her more harm than The Commander and the evil creature that lurks beyond the wall combined. Enter Logan...Nineteen year old Logan McEntire is the orphaned outcast who Jared took on as his apprentice and he's also the boy who broke Rachel's heart two years prior. To make things even more awkward, he's just been appointed Rachel's new Protector. Logan is good looking, uber intelligent, and his inventions are nothing short of uh-mazing! He also has a knack for weighing all the options in every situation which Rachel finds a strange mix of annoyance and comfort. Basically, Logan is a hot nerd who can kick some serious butt! If he were a Super Hero, his name would be something like, "Captain Scenario". ;) Logan if also not afraid to stand up for what's right even if it means risking his own life.Rachel is a hardcore heroine! Smart, beautiful, courageous and incredibly loyal, her impulsiveness is what gets her into trouble and also happens to drive Logan insane. You can't really blame her though, being forced to grow up fast is never easy. She too is selfless and her journey through the Wastelands will test her in ways she never imagined and threatens to destroy all that it is important to her. She'll have to fight with everything she has in order to save those she loves and try to not lose herself in the process. Then there's Quinn... *sighs* I was Team Quinn long before I *met* him but I just knew I would *hearts* him and do.I.ever. He's tall, dark and every bit as awesome as Logan. He's kind, compassionate and possesses a wisdom beyond his years but he's not without his tortured past. Knowing this only encouraged my desire to become a Tree People hugger. ((hugs Quinn)) Quinn is also able to empathize with Rachel in ways that even Logan can't which doesn't sit too well with Capt. Scenario but he's just being helpful. You know, I have a huge fear of heights but I'm confident Quinn could help me overcome that. ;) As Rachel and Logan make their way through the Wastelands, they'll have to fight an army, a creepy monster who refuses to die and uncover a secret so powerful, it has the potential to start a war. They'll experience love, heartbreak and hopefully learn that even in the worst situations, all you can do is your best. I thoroughly enjoyed the alternating POV's between Rachel and Logan! Their relationship is strained at times and while Rachel might not be a girlie girl, she, like all females, can certainly benefit from a compliment. Logan, being the tech head often misses the mark and the results had me snorting out loud!(Rachel) "You're telling me you're going to give me a compliment even though I shouldn't logically need one?" Her voice doesn't sound pleased....(Logan) "I have no idea how this conversation went awry so quickly. I just want to tell her something nice. Does it have to be a ten-minute discussion about motives and semantics?"The world building is fanfreakingtastic, but in case you want a little more visual (and trust me, you do), be sure to check out C.J.'s Defiance board on pinterest. It takes the reading experience to a whole new level.One of the main things I took away from this story was the importance of holding onto hope especially when it seems like all hope is lost. We all go through difficult times and it can be very easy to lose ourselves to grief or pain but regardless, we can always cling to hope...hope for change, for love, for redemption and hope for new life.