Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review: Defy

Title:  Defy
Series:  Defy #1
Author:  Sara B. Larson
Published:  January 7, 2014 by Scholastic Press
Source:  A copy was provided by the publisher via Netgalley.  Thank you! 
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?
My Review:  Wow, this novel.  I did not expect to be so caught up in the story it presented.  I went into it thinking that I was in for a fun, romantic fantasy story but I got a lot more.  This book was heart wrenching, action packed, filled with hard times and struggles for our heroine and, yes, a sweet and swoon-worthy romance.

The world we are introduced to is both horrifying and beautiful.  I loved hearing about the beautiful scenery of the kingdoms; the thick and humid jungles full of wild animals and mystery and the large, grand castles.  But even with these lovely pieces, it was impossible to ignore the horror that the king has brought to his people.  I was absolutely appalled learning about the Breeding Houses and the king's history with his son, Prince Damian.  It was terrifying and crazy to think of anything like that happen to anyone.  

I absolutely loved meeting Alexa and seeing the way she didn't let the tragedy and horror of her past affect the way she thrived as a guard in the castle.  She was so bad ass!  I loved reading the scenes where she was in her element using a sword and fighting.  She was an extremely strong character.  I also really loved the love interest in this story (only the one.  I did not like the other corner of this love triangle at all.)  He was sweet and compassionate and I loved the scenes when they had a chance to be together.  

However, I felt like all of the characters lacked a certain maturity in their interactions with each other.  Multiple times while reading, I thought that the characters were acting naive, whiny, stubborn, and immature.  Alex especially refused to see from anyone's POV besides her own.  She continually held things over people's head and forgave them for it one moment before pulling it back out and holding it over them when she was angry at them.  And one corner of the love interest (the one I didn't like) was petty and acted like a spoiled child when things didn't go his way.  It was annoying.   The other love interest, though he had his reasons, lied again and again and it became hard to take anything he said seriously. 

Defy was a story full of adventure, high stakes, and romance.  Though it had some faults, I still loved reading it and I'm very excited to continue this series with the next book, which is expected to release in 2015!  

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