Monday, September 1, 2014

Book Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson

Defy (Defy, #1) 
Hardcover, 336 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Toronto Public Library

A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and heart-racing romance.

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 don't know why people hated this book so much. Did it have its faults? Yes. But even JK Rowling had her faults. Was it a little more romantic than the synopsis made it sound? Okay, yup there, too. So what?

I loved Defy. There. I said it. 

It reminded me of the Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce. Not just the dressing-up-as-a-boy part,  but the romance, too. Alexa is stuck between Damian, who she can never be with because he's royalty, and Rylan, who's a fellow guard who doesn't ignite Alexa as much as Damian does. In Song of the Lioness, Alanna had Jonathan, a prince, and George, the "king" of thieves. I can't remember much about Alanna's journey since I read the books when I was twelve. I know I was pissed as hell when Alanna ended up with George. This series will end the same way, I fear. Yet, I'll read the sequel, and its sequel (99% sure it's a trilogy), just to see who Alexa chooses.

Could the writing have been improved? Yes. There was a chapter near the end where a character gave an info dump speech. Whenever action occurred, I had to go back and re-read to figure out how Alex got such-and-such wound. The dialogue was flat at times.

I still loved it. Sara has no fear of hurting her characters. I was a bit surprised by the wound Alexa sustained at the end. Main characters in YA fantasy books usually don't get scarred or deformed in any major way despite all the ninja-ry they do. I hated the twist, which means I loved the twist.

Now, to wait five months for Ignite...

Would I recommend this book? Yes

Would I re-read it? Maybe

Would I read a sequel? Definitely

Next week... I'm taking a temporary hiatus because school starts