Defy by Sara B. Larson

January 28, 2014     erinbook     Book review

Defy by Sara B. Larson

Release Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
336 Pages
Received: NetGalley E-ARC 
Format: Ebook


3 Stars
*May contain spoilers*
Description: 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?
Review: Sigh. Where to begin with this book? There’s so much good about this book but there’s also a lot of bad. I suppose a good place to start is with this bit from the Goodreads description:
“A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.”
Thrilling love triangle? Not once, in any book I’ve read that featured a love triangle, would I have ever described it as thrilling. Love triangles are not thrilling. At best a good love triangle can have me rolling my eyes but not ruin the enjoyment of the story. A bad love triangle can have me cringing and wanting to chuck the book across the room. To me a love triangle is a lazy way to create conflict in a story. If there are other elements of conflict within a plot then the love triangle doesn’t have to be a story-killer. Luckily, this is the case with Defy. There are enough other conflicts going on that the focus isn’t on the love triangle, thankfully. Saying your story has a “thrilling love triangle” (one which even by love triangle standards is less than thrilling, I might add) is like saying “look, I did a thing that everyone else has done that might annoy a lot of people”.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the world. For the most part I really enjoyed the world building here. The landscapes of the two kingdoms are made distinct and I appreciated the use of the different types of terrain. It made the “road trip” part of the book much more intriguing than it would have been. There were a few aspects of the society that tread the line of being uncomfortable but I understood why they were there. The treatment of the orphans in this kingdom was absolutely appalling, and that is of course intentional and has a purpose. Still, it can be a bit hard to swallow at times.
As for the characters, my big criticism of Alex/Alexa is that she’s a bit boy crazy. She’s been surrounded by boys for three years, you’d think she’d have gotten used to seeing their abs and such in that time. Rylan is just sort of there, I honestly can’t say if he has any sort of distinct quality or purpose other than being the other side of the love triangle. He’s not a bad character, he’s just sort of bland. Damian is by far my favorite character in the story and has the most interesting story.
I’m very hard on this book here but despite all of the issues I have with it, I did really have a lot of fun reading it. I will be picking up a physical copy of it eventually, I like the plot without the annoying love triangle which I can ignore without much trouble (it probably shouldn’t be this easy to ignore a love triangle but that says a lot about how weak it is). I just can’t help but enjoy a butt-kicking female like Alexa. Give it a try and see what you think.
Already read it? What were your thoughts? Tell me in the comments, I’d love to know!
Keep Reading those books!
The Book Nut
I’ve started a reading challenge for the year, 100 books before the end of December. 
Books read towards goal: 5
Coming Soon…
Infernal Devices Reviews (eventually!)

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