Defy by Sara B. Larson
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Scholastic Press
Age Group: Young Adult
Series: Defy #1
Source: eARC from publisher (via NetGalley)
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 is the first book in a new young adult fantasy series. It is about a young girl named Alexa that is forced to cut off her hair and act like she is a boy in order to survive. Her and her twin brother, Marcel join the royal family’s guard, when a war break out. Alexa becomes Alex and she is a truly gifted fighter. She is pretty much better than all of the other guards. I liked reading the sparring and fight scenes in Defy because her fighting ability was my favorite thing about Alexa. I loved watching her best pretty much any guy she was up against. Defy is a good start to what looks like it will be a good fantasy series.
I want to continue the series, because I am invested and interested in the characters but there were a few things about Defy that kept me from going from like to love. The whole setting of the book was a country torn apart in war, and I never really found out why. We learned some of the reasons later on, but I wanted more of a back story on the war and on what was going on in the countries. Some more details about the people added in throughout the story. I am hoping we will learn more about the different heritages and groups of people in the next book.
There is a love triangle in Defy. And while this in and of itself is not a negative for me, I came up on the wrong side of the love triangle. I fell in love with one of the guys and I was rooting for him so badly. I haven’t given up hope yet. Things can really turn around in the next book. The two guys vying for Alexa’s attention were Rylan, a fellow guard, and Prince Damian. Both of the guys were likable, but I had an instant draw to one of them. The other just had too many secrets. I couldn’t bring myself to ever fully trust him. All is revealed towards the end, but it was too late for me. I had already fallen for the other guy. So I was a tad disappointed when Alexa didn’t seem to feel the same way as me.
I really loved the writing in Defy. I thought that the characters were fleshed out and the story flowed along at a great pace. There wasn’t as much action as I was initially expecting, but the fighting and excitement really picked up at the end. I admired Alexa for her strength and will at the start for pretending to be a boy and having to hide herself from everyone, but it seemed like so many people knew her secret. And as soon as the cat was out of the bag with a few of the main characters, Alexa because noticeably more emotional and kind of girly. A few times during the story, I found myself liking her more when she was pretending to be Alex. That is not to say that I didn’t like Alexa or that I found her to be annoying, because I didn’t. She is a tough girl and very brave, and even her more girly side was not annoying. I just wasn’t expecting her personality to change quite as much as it did sometimes. Overall though Defy was a good read. Fans of romance and fantasy should check out Defy. I really enjoyed the story and it has the potential to become a great series!
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