by Sara B Larson
File Size: 901 KB
Print Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press (January 7, 2014)
Buy the Book: Amazon
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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?
I feel like this book was SO CLOSE to being really good.
When I received DEFY in the mail, I was really excited. Fantasy is my absolute favorite genre, and there's just not enough of it out there. Then add in the girl who has to masquerade as a boy storyline, and yeah....it sounded like perfection (The Burning Sky was one of my favorite reads of the year!)
DEFY reminded me of a mix between Graceling by Kristin Cashore and Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas. Immediately I was drawn into the story, and I found myself really enjoying it. The mystery surrounding why Alexa's parents were killed, the uncanny fighting ability that Alexa possessed, the fact that she had to pretend to be a boy to avoid the horrendous breeding houses, were all things that drew me in and made me want to keep reading.
From beginning to end, the mystery, the fight scenes, the storyline, and the characters all had me intrigued. But there was something about this book that consistently drew me out of the story and made it difficult for me to get through.
I can't tell you how bad it was for me. I don't know if others will have the same reaction that I did, but I almost couldn't take it. I swear it was like there were two different people writing this book, one that I loved, and one that almost made my eyes get permanently stuck in the back of my head. I rolled my eyes over this romance more times than I can count. It was just....cheesy. From the descriptions of the cliche gorgeous boys (with the warm brown eyes and the piercing/startlingly blue eyes), to the INTSA-I'M-IN-LOVE-WITH-YOU, to the constant manipulations, and the awkward dialog and declarations, it was just too much. Warm, brown-eyed Rylan was a total If-you-don't-like-me-I'm-going-to-treat-you-like-crap, creep. And Alexa would just apologize over and over...as if she did anything wrong....to try to make him happy. Yuck! Then there's Prince Damian. He wasn't quite as bad, though he did like to use manipulation to make Alexa feel badly for questioning him about anything...ever. Yet, even though she basically knew nothing about him, she just fell all over herself any time he even looked at her.
I feel a rant coming on.
I think this is one of those times that a girl is called "strong" because she can fight, and "act like a boy," but any time she was "acting like a girl," she was portrayed as weak, and that really bothered me. As soon as she was revealed as a girl, she suddenly became all starry-eyed and lived in a constant state of BLUSHING (seriously, I swear she was blushing every other page). She didn't stand up to Rylan or Damian, and she was constantly being manipulated. It just did not sit well with me.
Anyway...overall, I really did like the story. I feel like if this book had just been edited a little more, it could have been really fantastic, but for me, it just missed the mark. Maybe others won't have the same reaction to the romance that I did.
- Sexual Content: Lot of mentions of a breeding house, where girls are raped and forced to give birth to children to support the army.
- Language: Mild
- Other: Sorcery/Dark magic