Defyby Sara B. Larson
Series: Defy #1
Published by Scholastic on January 7th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 336 pages
Source: ARC Tour
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?
Defy starts out with the death of Alexa’s parents, and her decision to flee with twin brother Marcell, ultimately disguising herself as a male soldier. She is welcomed as one of the King’s Elite guard who lives in the castle protecting royalty.
I made a rocky start with this one as the opening chapter describe in detail the King’s breeding program. Its a horrific description of the mistreatment of young women in Defy’s world. Alexa must visit the complex to escort newly orphaned girls which put a dark, sinister tone in the beginning that I did not like. However, after reading on, there were lots of things I did enjoy:
the relationship between Alexa and her brother– the family loyalty
the sparring of the guard, watching Alexa train
the idea of healing, of sorcery being used for good
the pacing, which kept me flipping pages, and
the two men who are vying for Alexa’s attention
The dynamic between Alexa and her main love is super confusing and uncomfortable for me, until we are sure where things stand. There was also a difficulty for me believing who does and does not know her identity secret.
In the end, this is not your run of the mill happily ever after. The character arc and progression of Alex to Alexa is a very conflicted, emotional one– from warrior to confused and in love, to the ending, which I can’t spoil, but is quite a twist. This is a solid debut by Sarah, one that you can tell she poured her heart into. Because of my personal content preferences it was rocky for me but I think it will appeal to many YA readers.
Thanks so much to Windy Aphyrath, Sarah B. Larson and Scholastic for letting us have a sneak peek into Defy.
Content: This is a definitely pick for older teens or adults because of content (highlight the line after parenthesis for content)
rape, violence against young women, moderate war related violence, heavy sensuality
Author Bio: I love writing, reading, and dessert–but the order varies by the day. I write books that have magic and romance and kick-butt girls and a whole lot more. My husband and I live in Utah with our three children. I write during naptime and the hours when most people are sleeping. My husband claims I should have a degree in “the art of multitasking.” On occasion you will find me hiding in a bubble bath with a book and some Swedish Fish. I am represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary and my YA debut DEFY is coming Spring 14 from Scholastic!