Monday, January 27, 2014

Defy by Sara B. Larson

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?
Sigh… I will reluctantly be picking up the second book in this series when it comes out but only because I’m curious. I won’t be rushing to get my hands on it. If you’re someone who likes YA predictable insta-love you will enjoy Defy. If you are not that someone, maybe don’t waste your time? Best spoiler-free summation: It’s a lame version of Mulan. 

~ Spoilers ahead ~

The good:

1) Storyline had potential?
2) Sara B. Larson has potential?
3) The book is pretty? (Even though it looks more like a dagger than a sword.)

The bad:

1) Characters = not convincing. When reading the synopsis I was expecting a Kick-Ass chick with a capital K! Sadly, what I did get was a girl who apparently is good with a sword and nothing else. I never felt the connection to her family. When her brother died it was like, well crap. I know NOTHING about her mother and her father seems nice. Apparently she could be captain of the guard but I don’t see her as a leader in the slightest sense of the word. She is weak minded and kind of a lame excuse for a main character. I felt like Prince Damian’s character was never completely developed. Apparently he is a snotty, spoiled, brat? This is never really portrayed and then, as a reader, I think we’re supposed to feel something when he turns out to be a thoughtful, loving, considerate leader. Yup, I got nothing. I don’t believe the “love” between the two at all. Then there is Rylan, another guard, who has always loved Alexa. I think he is supposed to be the handsome, sweet, smart love choice but again, it’s not believable. Long story short I think it’s supposed to be one of those good guy/bad boy love triangles and of course she chooses the bad boy. Duh! All the other characters really don’t matter at all, even if they were supposed to. Maybe they will become more of a presence in the second book?

2) Plot = not much of one. Let me explain the WHOLE BOOK in one paragraph… First there is a war and it’s been going on for years. I can’t really tell you why except that the King wanted one? He killed his wife to blame it on someone else and then proclaim war against them? Maybe I missed something but I don’t understand why there is even a war. Then the King needs a breeding house to supply bodies for an army for a war in which there is no back story. Now Alexa needs to pretend to be a boy when her parents are killed so that she isn’t sent to the unnecessary breeding house for the unnecessary war. She becomes the best fighter on the guard, her brother is killed, she pouts for a day, and then she is assigned to be the Princes personal guard. She goes on a random mission for the Prince (completely pointless by the way) and comes back just to get kidnapped with the Prince and a fellow guard. They end up on a trip through the jungle to their captors’ land where it comes to Alexa’s attention that both boys knew she was a girl (apparently Alexa is a bad actor as well) and that they both love her. Insert love triangle here, blah blah blah. We end up back at the Kings castle where a fight for the thrown breaks out and within pages, and I mean very few pages, some characters we barely know die, the Kings evil sorcerer dies, and the King dies.  War is over, Prince becomes King, and it’s all because of Alexa. Done. Seriously, that was the whole story in WAY less words.

3) World building = nonexistent. There is a Castle, there is the (unnecessary) breeding house, and there is a jungle. If this is going to be a multi-book story I need more than that to work with.

In the end, it was okay. 

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