author : sara b. larson
pages : [hardcover] 336
memorable quote : Sometimes it seemed like those with the most rotten interiors were blessed with the most exquisite exteriors.
favorite characters : marcel & alexa
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 didn’t go into this book with many expectations because I’d just been hearing a lot of buzz about it and thought it’d be interesting to read. Defy is about a girl who disguises herself as a boy so that she can save herself from a terrible fate and join the king’s army instead. In comparison to what would have happened to her as a girl, it’s a great choice. I do love reading books where someone is in disguise and others know nothing about this. The stakes in this were high, the world-building was great, and I was immediately drawn into the story.
I absolutely adored the first half. I really couldn’t stop reading, even when I was supposed to be doing homework instead. The only thing that almost made me put this down was reading about the breeding house. As a woman the very thought made me so uncomfortable and disgusted that I didn’t think I was going to be able to read on about the fates of those girls. While I’m glad that I persisted and realize that it made up just one element of the book . . . it was just terrible.
The second half made me dislike this book. There was too much instant love, too many decisions that made absolutely no sense. There was a huge buildup to a revelation that never really needed to happen which was majorly disappointing. The love triangle grated on my nerves, Alexa-who had been so strong and independent in the first half-was suddenly reduced to tripping over herself and acting in really useless ways once everyone found out she was a girl. Sure, I realized that there would be some changes and knew it was coming just from the summary of the book, but I didn’t realize I would dislike her character for it.
And I didn’t really see the necessity of a sequel for this book. I went in without knowing whether or not it was a series but was frustrated when literally every part of the plot but the love triangle was wrapped up in the end. I don’t know if I’ll pick up the next book.
I did really enjoy the adventurous environment and most of the story presented. It really sparked my imagination and if the second half had been as great as the first, I would have loved this book.
If you like this book, you might also like Leviathan.