Monday, December 23, 2013

Early Review: Defy (Defy #1) by Sara B. Larson

Release Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: NetGalley
Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter

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?



There's a lot to love about Defy. Tough girl who has to pretend to be a boy, hot prince who has to pretend to be obnoxious, evil sorcerers, misunderstood magic, and a kingdom in peril. It's not what I would consider action-packed, but the story clips along at a good pace.
I was initially a little worried by the hint of a love triangle in the blurb, but it turned out to be fairly obvious who she was actually interested in.
Yeah, and then there's the other guy.
It's not you, it's me.
I love you, but I'm not In Love with you.
I think of you like a brother...minus all the genetic similarities.

I loved the backstory that led Alexa to have to disguise herself as a boy. It was made more plausible by the fact that she had already been trained to fight by her father. The reason her father trained her was also something that made sense. Since she already knew her way around a sword, it eliminated the moments in the story when I would normally roll my eyes at the heroine's ability to step into the role of a bad-ass...without any prior experience. The magical elements didn't come into play until later, and this helped establish why she was able to not only blend in, but become part of an elite force protecting the prince.

The author did a great job with Damian's character, as well. I really didn't like him at all. And then suddenly I did.
Hello, Mr. Darcy!
And at the end of the book, I really couldn't have loved him more. I'm trying really hard not to give spoilers, so let's just say that he is one of those guys who understands that beauty is only skin deep.

And speaking of the end?
Dear God! I can't believe that the author actually went the route that she did! I'm not talking about a cliffhanger here people, I'm talking about...
Nope. Sorry, that would be a spoiler.
I will say it was something I haven't seen happen very often in YA.

In the interest of total disclosure, I will say that there were a few times I thought Alexa acted a bit out of character for someone who was supposedly so tough. I don't know why, but it rubbed me the wrong way. Still, I'm willing to chalk it up to other people finally knowing her secret, and maybe coming to terms with being able to act like a girl for the first time in years.
Even with that minor annoyance, I'd recommend this one for someone looking for a young adult fantasy novel.



6 comments:

Van Pham said...

Great review Anne! I've heard mix reviews for Defy but am still looking forward to reading it...I really like the synopsis. :)

ANNE HANNAH said...

I know what you mean about the mixed reviews. I think this one is going to be one of those that not everyone will love. I thought the good outweighed the bad, but you'll have to try it for yourself and see. I'd love to hear your take on it!

Braine TS said...

I just read this book where the hero is a Southern gentleman so I totally get the Mr. Darcy quip! I want more good boys!

Anyway, Merry Christmas, Anne, Cat & Jamie!

ANNE HANNAH said...

Merry Christmas, Braine!

Kiersten Kozbial said...

I was thinking about not reading this after reading a negative review from another blogger, but I'm thinking maybe I should reconsider! Great review!

ANNE HANNAH said...

Thanks, Kiersten! I hope you end up liking it...I'll feel really bad if you think it sucks! lol!

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