Defy (Defy #1) by Sara B. Larson
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?
Publishes in US: January 7th 2014 by Scholastic Press
Genre: YA fantasy
Source: Scholastic via Netgalley
Series? Yes. Defy #1 next out 2015
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I decided to read Defy because the synopsis really intrigued me. I like tough girls who can stand their own and the Mulan girl dressed as a boy to be in the army speaks to me.
Luckily Sara Larson delivered on the premise, and I was a big fan of Alexa/Alex. She is loyal, tough, smart and darn good at her job--guarding the prince. She is realistic in that she sometimes questions herself and her decisions, but above all, she is still loyal and does things for the right reasons.
I also love the relationship between her and her twin brother Marcel. They were there for each other as kids and it continued as they served together. Their repertoire, having each other's backs, and truly looking for the feelings and best interests warmed my heart.
Defy definitely threw in a lot of twists that I didn't see coming. And some were pretty darn emotional and shocking. Things that I wish wouldn't have happened, but for the long run, I can at least understand why.
Damian certainly lived up to the claim of the synopsis of dark and intriguing. He acts like a spoiled prince, but underneath it all, you can tell there is an intelligence, and lots that he is keeping hidden, but for sure, I wanted to know what that sharpness in his eyes, and his semi-strange and intimate encounters with Alex means about who he is and what he knows.
Going in, you know there is going to be a love triangle, and I like a love triangle written right, so that didn't bother me. But if this is one of your pet peeves, Sara gives fair warning. For me though, there was only one that I allowed myself to want for her, because it was clear who would win her full affections. I think it could have easily went the other way, but there was a crucial moment, and one of them even admitted it.
The secondary characters in this one were well crafted and had personalities that shone. They all contributed so much to the plot and brought their own touch to the story.
The world building worked for me. It had that high fantasy type with the countries and their histories, but the talk wasn't "old" as I call some of it. It had a more modern feel, and I liked that. Everything wasn't so complex that I got lost in the details either. It set everything up well, I understood the conflicts and the pieces in motion. It had all of the fantasy set ups, but Sara Larson added her own voice and perspective, making it feel fresh and new.
The pacing was great. I was always sad when I had to put the book down until I could pick it back up again to find out what would happen next.
The ending was very fitting for this book, but didn't come without its share of loss and heartache. I will definitely continue this series and I can't wait to see what will happen next. I think that it ended at a great place, and while I still have some questions, it wasn't a huge cliffie which I think would have made me pretty mad.
My question to you, my lovely readers:
Have you ever wished you were the opposite gender?