Friday, November 29, 2013

Review: Defy, by Sara B. Larson

Defy (Defy, #1)

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?
1 Star
*Thank you Scholastic for sending me this copy via Netgalley.*

Blergh. DNF at 85%.

More times than I care to count, YA novels usually gain a lower rating from me due to the romance. More specifically, when the romance takes over the plot. Even more specifically, when the love triangle takes over the plot.

This book had so much potential. So much. What drew me in was the fact that the heroine is disguised as a guy, and is right under the king’s nose as being part of his Royal Guard. Add in some magic, sorcery, and a seemingly good romance, you'd think I'd love this. Right? Right?

I don’t care if the writing is flawless (which it wasn't), or if the characterization was excellent (which it wasn’t); if the plot is almost nonexistent or taken over by romance, this equation will always be applicable:


Before I go into my loathing of the romance, let me delve into the character development. Or lack of it, I should say. See, the heroine Alexa was a very strong-willed, loyal girl at the beginning of the novel, whom I admired greatly. As the story progressed, she became a whiny, self-pitying shell of her former self who spent most of her time trying to choose which guy she loves more. Oh, you poor little thing! You have two guys vying for your attention, life must be so hard, right? Kill me now. Besides her, no one else was developed very well.

Defy is supposed to be a high fantasy novel, based on the impression I got by reading the synopsis. Would I believe this based on the actual novel? Nope. There was little world building, so little that the only thing I know about Alexa’s world is that there is a deadly jungle located somewhere in the country (was it even a country?). That, and the vague references to sorcery and magic pretty much constituted my idea of the world.

If those were my only two issues, I would have given Defy two stars. Suffice to say, they weren’t my only issues.

Alexa is trapped in a love triangle between a snotty prince and a loyal best friend. Much like her YA heroine counterparts, it’s pretty obvious who she chose. I mean, based on the 85% I read, she had already declared her love for the prince. To add to that stupidity, she chose the guy who repeatedly deceived her, lied to her, and tricked her into doing what he wanted her to do. Really, why should she choose the guy who was loyal to her his whole life, who stood by her when she abandoned him, and who always defended her?

On top of this, nothing really happened until about 2/3 of the way through, and even that was boring. I’m not entirely certain where the “action” and “intrigue” hinted at in the synopsis came from.

Alexa is a Mary Sue, and I do not use this term lightly. She is a speshul girl with magical powers, an undefeatable swordsman, and has the attention of the freaking King’s son. Can you get any more Mary Sue than that?

I was expecting more of a Crown of Midnight-ish high-fantasy novel; instead, I was stuck with a sappy teen romance with very little attention given to much else.

Seriously, you’re better off watching Mulan.


  1. Uh oh. It's never a good thing when there's no plot in a book. But I have a weakness for romances, so most likely, I'll like it more than you. I'll be reading this one soon it won't be quite as disappointing for me as it was for you.

    Great review!

    1. Hopefully you'll enjoy it more than more, haha. :)

  2. Oh I totally agree with you, sometimes the romance overtakes the plotline and sometimes it's so unreasonable in situations. For example, there will be some war going on and the main girl is worries about what this guy thinks of her. It's like get a grip! I think I'll be steering clear of this book, I'm sorry it was such a disappointment.

    1. Exactly! And I get so frustrated, because I was looking forward to action and intrigue and all that interesting stuff, but instead I get loads of pointless teen angst. -_-