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Thursday, January 16, 2014

ARC Review: Defy by Sarah B. Larson

My 2014 started in a good fashion because of this book.

Title: Defy (Defy #1) by Sara B. Larson
Release Date: January 7th 2014
Published by: Scholastic Press
Source: Publisher
Buy: Amazon | Book Depository


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 can just imagine the first scene happening inside my head as if it was real. Alex and her twin brother Marcel, standing in front of the destruction left by the fire that stole their parents away from them. The horror evident on both child's faces as they realized what awaits them as orphans in the kingdom of Antion. At that moment I decided that I will read this book through the very end.

The summary was deceiving, readers are not shoved head on to battle at once, but into a world of careful re-imagining and building by Sara Larson. We see Alexa years after she had lost her parents as she lived her life as a boy with her twin brother, Marcel. She was the best guard, the captain if only she wasn't so young. With Marcel by her side and friends like Rylan and comrades like Deron, her job becomes bearable, that is if the Prince wasn't being the stubborn, pampered Royal he always was.

I loved Alexa, the way her character was built, through death, destruction, the loss and sacrifice of the ones she loved, and it has made her a strong, tough person. The life she was leading wasn't easy, having to hide her true identity, lie and deceive people, all the while serving a man who has done unspeakable horrors to her fellow citizens. I cannot imagine how it was like to be in her shoes, aside from being forced to masquerade as someone she's never going to be (a male) if she wanted to live, she was given such daunting tasks one after another. Her struggle to hide her identity as a woman intrigued me at first, and that was what kept me going through most parts of this book, always anticipating that moment when she was discovered. That, and her electrifying, tension-filled interactions with Price Damian.

Cliche as it might look, I was caught in the emotions Sara Larson was able to weave in each and every encounter Alexa had with Damian. He comes off as a spoiled Prince who throws tantrums in the most irrational way, but Damian's just as deceiving as Alex was, and his infuriating, smart way of exchanging words and banter with Alex was such a delight to read. He was, in a sense, swoon worthy, especially when more of his character was revealed when he was abducted! I have to say that the secrets he was keeping gave way for a lot of confusion and questions, because while we wait for each secret to be revealed, readers also wait to see what his character as a whole has to offer. Was there more to him than the flowery words and magnetic charm? There was, and I'm glad that his past was revealed because it gave him the needed backbone for his story, a reason for why he was acting the way he was. It was frustrating, however, how he and Alexa always seem to tease each other, but when they get too close, they pull back without warning.

Like Alexa, I seem to have been torn between Damian and Rylan. While Damian's title definitely adds to his charm, Rylan, as a Royal Guard, only has that to compare against Damian. But I did feel like Rylan's character was a lot more stable and consistent than Damian was. Granted, he might be a little to kind and a martyr, having been that guy who decided to give way and wait for a girl who he knew doesn't love him, but Rylan had his own charms. In a perfect setting, he would be better suited for Alexa, and at times I felt just that. I felt bad for him quite often. Maybe good guys do finish last, but his supportive attitude, understanding and acceptance of Alexa should have earned him a little more credit for her. He was suffering there, watching as Alexa's and Damian's story happen right before his eyes and he can't do anything about it. I hope he becomes more assertive in the next book. Fight for what you want, Rylan!

I give Sara Larson a salute for creating an interesting world for Defy. This might be her debut novel, but I loved how she painted such a convincing world for her story. Antion, Osgard, Dansii, the inner workings for each kingdom, the Royalty, its citizens, the state of their lives and how they are all connected gave the book a solid setting that served as a great backdrop for Alex, Rylan and Damian's story to unfold. Though it was largely a story of a girl keeping her true identity a secret, it was also that of a war torn world, the terrors that comes along with it and the struggle to make it a better place for everyone. The motivations behind Damian's actions, the force that drives Alex to keep her secret and protect her people, all of it contributed to a solid, entertaining read.

Not a bad start for 2014, if I may say so.

If there was anything I'd like to ask for in the sequel, it's that I want more of everything. More action,  more breath taking and heart stopping moments and a little more resolution on the very vague relationship going on with Damian, Alex and Rylan.

Content (plot, story flow, character):
Okay: Liked, but The Goddess demands more!
I would have given this a 5 were it not for Alexa's personality shift, which was the biggest issue for me here. I was unconvinced. I understand that she has been pretending as a boy, but it felt like the shift was so sudden. And I kept on thinking, was it all because she was falling for the idea that Damian was a Prince? How about Rylan then? Pretending for so long, was it really that easy to give in and toss aside the male persona she has adopted for years? Also, I felt that everything that happened was so unfair to Rylan, that he was shut down before he was given a chance to do anything. Also, it would have been nicer if the impact the opening scene had left was consistent throughout the book, but it dwindles quite often, only to pick up and go down again.

Shining: Worthy of a Goddess' Love!

Book Cover:
I have a serious crush on this book's cover!


  1. Definitely with a story with a love triangle. This is my cup of tea. Great review, Kai :D


    1. Tell me if you're giving it a try, Dani! Hope you like it better :)

  2. Your blog is very useful for me.I really like you post.Thanks for sharing.

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