by Sara B. Larson
Series: Defy #1
Genre: YA, fantasy, romance
Published January 7th 2014 by Scholastic Press
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
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 am reviewing an advance reading copy (ARC) of this book. There might be some changes to the finished copy.
I first came across Defy when I received a tour invite from a book tour I am part of as one of the hosts. The tour host mentioned Defy was available as Read Now on Netgalley. I did not joined the tour because I'm quite full for the schedule but I did checked it out. The part on the blurb that says, "..disguise herself as a boy" got me so I clicked the shiny Read Now button (it's not really shiny, I just looked it at that way because hello! There's an auto read for this exciting novel!) even though I saw a dangerous "thrilling love triangle" on the blurb as well. I'm sure not thrilled about love triangles, but you said disguise, action, and prince so I gave it a chance! It could be one of the rare books that consists of thrilling love triangles.
I liked Defy the moment I started reading it. The first chapter captured my heart and the book seemed to scream epic fantasy, heart-stopping actions, well-thought world building and epic love story. The next chapters proved me so well except for the breeding house part. I'm sorry for breaking that out to you, I just have to let this out: it's gross. (My Goodreads status: This is sick.)
The love triangle that I was hoping to be thrilling ruined the story. It's not I didn't liked Prince Damian, Rylan the guard, or Alex/Alexa. I liked them as individuals but the love triangle did not only ruined the story but also them as a character. I don't think it's necessary, the love triangle. I tried imagining Defy without it and I can as much as say that it will be better without it. The story would be slightly different, but better.
The progress of Alex/Alexa-Prince Damian love story was so fast and so sure for it to be realistic. Alexa seemed to like the prince because of his appearance more--though there are traits that she liked about him too, the physical attraction won, I think. While Prince Damian's attraction/like/love (whatever they call it) for Alexa somehow didn't explained in the book. Rylan's attraction for Alexa is somehow understandable but his confession, and the prince's--the scene, the dialogue, and Alexa's reactions seemed to fast and done at the same time that it appeared to be unrealistic and somehow cliche. I felt like 3/4 of the book was spent with their complicated situation and feelings. It disappointed me.
The pace of the book was just right--I think it was fast but it's okay for me, except for the fact that a lot happened on this book that I have to double check Goodreads to confirm that this is a series, not a standalone. If this was standalone, I would say that the story went right and interesting except for the poor love triangle. That the ending was somehow lacking or just not proper and it needed more assurance, but all things considered it was a nice book. But this is series so I'm gonna say that the book has a huge potential. It was really interesting, it could be one of the best fantasy books in 2014, and I just fell in love with the story based from the blurb but what happened? Why the love triangle? Why cliche dialogues and scenes? Why love story > fantasy? Why the ending--an ending that seemed to end a standalone and not first book of the series? The potential of an Epic Book dissipated because of this. I'm still looking forward on the second book, though. I wanted to see if there'd be improvements and I wanted to. I really wanted to love this series--this book, but I can't. I liked it but there were certain things I wished didn't happen (or they are just certain things I didn't liked). But truth be told, this book kept me flipping the pages to read more. Despite the "certain things I didn't liked", Defy was interesting enough to make me want to read the next chapters instead of abandoning it.
Defy is a story about lost, love, trust, power and winning. It has a great potential but it didn't turned out the way I was hoping it to be. I would recommend this book for those who likes dystopian, fantasy, and action. If you wouldn't mind the love triangle or love story > fantasy, then read this book.
*Thanks to Scholastic Press for the chance to read and review this book via Netgalley!