Defy by Sara B. Larson

Title: Defy
Author: Sara B. Larson
Series: Defy #1  
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: January 7, 2014

Summary from Goodreads:
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 admit that had I not received an ARC of Ignite (book 2) from Scholastic, for which I saw many 4 and 5 star reviews for on Goodreads, I don't know if I would have gotten around to reading Defy any time soon, if at all. Although it is a Fantasy and has a strong heroin who is parading around as a boy, (things that would normally appeal to me) the reviews were all over the place and initially scared me away. But with the promise of Ignite being so good I decided to give Defy a chance, hoping that I would be in the group of those that loved it.

Sadly, I am not in that group, but I realize now why the reviews are all over the place - it comes down to whether or not you like the romance-focus. Defy has a lot going for it, but all of that is unfortunately overshadowed by the love-triangle, although I use that term loosely because Alexa  does favor one more than the other the whole time. I personally prefer romances to complement a story rather than be the main focus of it, so that is primarily why I did not love this book. If only the other elements of the story were heightened I would have enjoyed it a lot more. After all, there is a lot of potential here - a corrupt king, an oppressed kingdom, a bloody war, powerful rebellions, secretive alliances, political maneuvering, dangerous sorcerers, and a fierce heroin who has the power to stop it all. I was definitely interested in the story itself, which kept a good pace and showed glimpses of greatness, if only there wasn't so much talk about feelings. But then again, I feel like all that talk might have been intentional to keep the story from getting too dark, which was definitely a possibility, and maybe it was always intended for a younger audience (whereas I am a masochist and like my heart to be ripped out).

I was also pleased by the ending which did not end on a cliffhanger at all. The main plotline that was presented in Defy was concluded completely and satisfactorily, well for the most part (there is a little glitch in the HEA).  But I still think one could be completely content reading Defy and never picking up Ignite if he or she pleases (but Ignite is better, so I wouldn't advise on that).

If you are are a reader that enjoys a romance that is at the forefront of a story, the foundation of great Fantasy story but that is kept from getting too dark by said romance, and doesn't mind a love triangle, then this series is PERFECT for you. However, if you are more like me and prefer fantasy over romance, then this book might not be your favorite, but you might very well still like it, like I did.

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