Series: Defy #1
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: January 2014
Source: Scholastic Press in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this copy did not affect my opinion of the book or this review.
A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.
Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.
The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?
Defy by Sara B. Larson was one of those books that I saw ALL over the blogosphere around the holiday season, and I was enthralled by the premise of the story – a girl pretending to be a boy, personal guard to the prince, sorcerers, magic, a love triangle. This fantasy had everything I love in a story, or at least it seemed that way.
When I started reading Defy I was in a reading slump and it made me overly moody while trying to read (come on, we have all been there!). As the book began I was interested in Alex/a’s story, she was strong and but also hardheaded and I felt for her - having to hide, keep secrets… that cannot be easy. Into the first few chapters I started to lose interest in her though. It seemed the same issues over and over – ‘I’m a girl, no one can know’ and that kept being the main issue. So I put down the book for a bit.
I picked this up again recently and had a marathon read, I was getting through this book no matter what; and what I found was that it got really good! Alex/a starts to act more like her real self, people start to find out whom she is, and the romance begins (>>insert giddy laughter here<<). I could not put it down (until I HAD to go to bed that is).
Rylan and Damien are both very different in their feelings for Alex/a. Rylan is the sure and steady, devoted type while Damien is a bit unpredictable but swoon-worthy – also a prince. The plot only progressed with the love triangle and so much more in the way of plot-twists and turns. I felt like some of them were very predictable while others were more confusing than anything. Overall I really enjoyed the book once I got into it, but the girl as a boy issues in the beginning were a little over the top (I thought). The biggest issue that I had with the book was that the fantasy was eaten alive by the romantic elements and the sorcerers and magic were few and far between - hoping for more of this plot development as the series progresses.
Note: Not intended for younger readers - there are many mentions of the rape of young women.