Read Defy by Sara B. Larson Rebecca Mozo Online

defy

lexa 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 Rylexa 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?...

Title : Defy
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780545677400
Format Type : Audiobook
Number of Pages : 306 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Defy Reviews

  • Khanh (the meanie)
    2019-03-26 13:32

    Mulan would fucking NEVER. Screw the love triangle. Screw the overwhelming romance. This is not a fantasy book. This is a love story. Don't look for anything beyond that. Hearts flutters. Desire courses. Cheeks flush. Blood flows overwhelmingly to the penis instead of the brain. WHERE IS MY PROMISED MULAN?!I am just so bloody tired of so-called bad-ass heroines who do fucking nothing to prove that they're capable. I am so fucking sick of heroines who spend their supposedly ass-kicking selves sobbing and crying and fucking feeeeeeeeeeling things and checking out her fellow half-naked soldiers wondering things like, my god, how did I not notice how fucking HOT his body looks when he's dripping with sweat! It's a fucking reverse harem!Let's just overlook the fact that there are fucking rape farm/breeding houses for a moment, because there are bigger problems at play here. Yeah, you heard me. Breeding houses. Rest assured, there will be a rant on that, with many words starting with F and ending in UCK, but for now, let's stick to the main issue at hand, which is to say, the problem with this book is the fact that it is a goddamned romance and nothing more, complete with much sighing, much longing, much "I CAN SEE HIS SOUL THOUGH HIS EYES" crap and a love triangle. If you took away all the breaths that goes aflutter and the pitterpatter of fucking heartbeats, this book would be around 50 pages instead of the original 300+.I had high hopes for this book. You know why I'm making so many random Mulan references? Because that's what this book promised me, in a goddamned nutshell. Come on, now. A girl disguised as a boy, serving as a soldier. The parallels are obvious. But no. Mulan has a good head on her shoulders. Alexa's head is so high up her ass that it actually reaches her heart, and that's my only explanation for the overwhelming amount of romance in this book.I wanted this:I got this:Summary: Alex is actually Alexa, a 17-year old girl, disguised as a 20-year old man in the army. She and her twin brother, Marcel, has been soldiers assigned to serve as Prince Damian's guards. Years ago, a foreign army invaded their land, and the only option for Alexa was to disguise herself as a boy so she could join the king's army, otherwise, she would be forced into a breeding house.Alexa is special. Skilled. Spectacularly skilled. Blessed with extraordinary fighting skills, as her brother would say. She can even beat her bigger brother in a fight. Hell, she can beat every fucking soldier in the squad. Because she's really, really special. And talented. And Rylan, yummy Rylan with his chocolate brown eyes, thinks so, too!Alexa is in service to Prince Damian. He's an asshole (a gorgeous asshole, naturally). He parties all day. He has women throwing themselves at him (Well, women who aren't in the breeding houses, that is. Still no fucking idea how that works.) Prince Damian is a complete asshole, son of the motherfucking tyrant king, but Alexa knows that under his dirtbag interior, there's more to him. She can see the gentleness in his eyes, she can see it in the way he tilts his head, she can see it in the swirling pattern of the shit he takes in the outhouse. The fact that he acts like a douchebag means absolutely nothing at all.Marcel dies right away! Well, that's so fucking convenient! Because now Alexa gets to be aaaaall alone with Prince Damian! They're so close! She gets to guard his bed! She gets to be around him all the time! She gets to see him half-naked, glistening in sweat! And man, is that fucking Damian a yummy dish! MUST. STOP. BLUSHING. BECAUSE. SOLDIERS. DON'T. BLUSH.She thinks he sees interest in Damian's eyes, which, to a reasonable person would mean that Damian is gay, since Alexa is under disguise as a MAN, after all, but fuck common sense, right?Alexa spends days, nights guarding Damian, thinking of him, bonding with him, getting closer to him, seeing his well-defined abdominals, dreamily interpreting and overthinking every fucking thing he says and does. She gets to go on a secret mission with Rylan, the yummy chocolate-eyed guard! She gets closer to him. She feels the camaraderie---the...love? Wait, can this be love? But what about Damian! How does Alexa get close to Damian?But then they get kidnapped! There's danger! There's intrigue! There's more opportunities for Rylan and Damian to get closer to Alexa as they travel through the hot, humid jungle! And what does heat and humidity mean? TAKE OFF YOUR CLOTHES, RYLAN AND DAMIAN! YEAH! Clothing optional: because I swear that the guys in this book spend more time half-naked than the entire pack of Forks werewolves put together. Jacob Black would be ashamed.Does the friendly, protective Rylan mean more to Alexa than the handsome, intriguing, mysterious Prince Damian? How will Alexa ever choose?!And the fate of the nation rests upon Alexa! Wait. Where the fuck did that come from?The EMOTIONS: Mulan would never fucking pull half the shit this stupid chick does. Mulan is a fucking master of disguise compared to Alexa.This is me (in a very unfortunate sparkly photo booth): I would actually be a more convincing man than Alexa, because half the fucking cast guesses that she's a girl. Why? SHE BLUSHES, SHE FLUSHES, HER HEART FLUTTERS, SHE GETS FLUSTERED. Soldiers would never. Mulan would never! Let's see, throughout the book. Alexa can hardly "keep from blushing. "[Her] heartbeat was probably visible in [her neck], it was pounding so hard." Her neck grows hot. Her cheeks flush. Her heartbeat flutters. Her emotions are welling underneath the surface. FUCKING ENOUGH ALREADY. Is all this shit supposed to prove to me that you are a fucking warrior? I don't bloody think so.I understand the need to be feminine, that feminity does not disappear under the guise of a man. That clothing does not hide who you are, regardless, there is a fucking time and place for your fucking emotions and your thoughts of romantic love, so leave that shit elsewhere because I don't fucking want it. I want a bad-ass heroine who knows her duty. I want a kick-ass chick who can suppress her emotions enough to get shit done. Alexa proves to me nothing. Throughout her painful narrative, all I got from Alexa is a girl who wants to frolic in a field of flowers with her douchebag prince while her fellow soldier stands posing half-naked on the side. I see a girl whose emotions, whose need for romance gets the better of her, and really, fuck that shit. It has no place in a book where the plot is supposed to be important.Her emotions. ALEXA'S FUCKING EMOTIONS FOR HER LOVER(S). They are all over the goddamned place. Is it a problem? YES, IT IS. She shouldn't be focusing on whether she's falling in love with Prince Damian or Rylan when her identity is at stake, when a war is in progress, when the fate of so many people lies in question. Alexa can't seem to think beyond her needs and her feeeeeeeeelings. Want some examples? I'll give you some examples. Her heart beats, oh, how her fucking heart beats all the fucking time, so much that I just wanted to rip it from her stupid fucking chest. Alexa's heart (all quotes from the book) "pounds" (many times), "constricts," "beats erratically," "thudded," "skipped a beat," "lurched unwittingly," "beats harder," "raced," "jumped into her throat," "skids a bit," "leaped into her throat," "beat unevenly," "raced," "constricted," "pounded," ""flopped like a wounded animal," "leaped into my throat." Ok, I'll stop there. That's around half the book. HALF. THE. BOOK.Her blood: "pulsed hot through her veins", "pulsed hot through her body" (several times).Her cheeks: "felt flushed" "blushed" (so many times), "grew warm with shame," "flamed" (multiple times), "burned," "grew hot again," "grows hot."She cries. She bawls. She runs away when her emotions for the two guys get the better of her (when they're in the motherfucking jungle). Her eyes "burned with tears," "tears ran down her cheeks," she "swallows her tears." She's a fucking Kleenex commercial. She cries so many times that I frankly got sick of it. I don't fucking care. I understand that emotions get the better of people sometimes, but seriously, choke it down. I want a warrior who can control her emotions. I don't want you to cry like a motherfucking pussy when the boy you love lies to you.Her priorities are just plain fucking wrong. In the middle of the fucking forest, she wonders: This is a disaster.Oh! Yay! A disaster! Why is it a disaster? I can think of a few reasons why, because they're kind of in a precarious situation. Like they were just kidnapped, they're traveling in the jungle. They're afraid for their lives. Surely, THIS IS THE DISASTER TO WHICH ALEXA IS REFERRING.Wrong. Why is it a disaster?[Rylan] wouldn't meet my gaze, and my stomach clenched. But Damian looked straight at me, and his expression was one of confusion, even hurt.ARE. YOU. FUCKING. KIDDING. ME? Your life is in danger, and you're concerned about two boys fighting over you like two alpha wolves fighting over which tree they get to fucking piss on first?Mulan would fucking NEVER.The Setting: Rape houses?! Really? Fucking seriously? WHY?! I might understand it if there was a reason behind it, if there was a compelling plot issue behind it, but no. The inclusion of the rape/breeding houses was absolutely pointless. It is mentioned only several times throughout the book. Seriously, it is pointless. It is a tool of fear, and I hate the fact that sexual violence is used as the major threat of oppression. There are so many factors at play in a crual regime such as this, and there was absolutely no point to the rape houses.So there actually was a point to the rape houses, according to the book. They are used to breed soldiers. What the actual FUCK, people? That doesn't even fucking make sense. According to the book, the king's evil war-bound regime started somewhere around the time of Alexa's birth, which wasn't even fucking 20 years ago. In all that time, the only tool in his arsenal to create more soldiers is to make breeding houses, where women are imprisoned as soon as they get their first period and are forced to spend their entire fertile lives breeding new soldiers for the king's army?! That makes no fucking sense. You could kidnap soldiers from other countries. You could train your own soldiers really well. Or you could piss off your fucking entire nation and invest 10-15 years into a war that you are losing while you're waiting for your future army to grow up? Seriously?!Children are not sprung forth from Zeus' forehead, fully grown, fully fucking able to fight. This ain't Greek mythology, these are people, not gods. Even if you wanted fucking child soldiers, it would take 10-15 years to get them anywhere ready to fight. And to piss off your entire nation like that? Why?! You are fucking all your people (literally and figuratively) for no reason at all. You fucking expect me to believe that? That men are willing to send their wives, daughters, sisters, nieces, off into these houses to be raped their entire lives, to be killed by childbirth, be terrorized, and do absolutely jack shit about it? How fucking dumb do you think I am?Take a culture of extremism. Take Afghanistan. Take the Taliban. Yeah, they oppress their women. They don't educate them. But do you really fucking think that all the men would do nothing if all their women were taken away to be raped constantly? I don't fucking think so. There is always a line.And this concept isn't even constant. The setting itself is so poorly done. You have 3 nations, one of them is a quasi-Chinese one, and all of them are so poorly described that I have no sense of nationality, no sense of what differentiates them, no sense of why they are fighting amongst each other. I don't know their society. We are mainly in the country of Antion. I know nothing of Antion culture. I know nothing of Antion history. I know nothing about the people of Antion besides the fact that they are constantly at way.Think of it this way, I am neophyte to geography, to history. You give me 3 nations: Ireland, England, Wales. How the FUCK do I distinguish between them if I know nothing about them but the fact that they're relatively close to each other? The world building is so incredibly vague in this book. There is largely no history, there is no explanation for anything. The magical system is completely basic, BOOM! Magic! Some people haz it, some people don't! There you go! Take it, swallow it, be thankful for it because you ain't given any more than that.I don't know how and WHY certain women are allowed to go around dancing in the court and fucking Prince Damian while the rest (god knows how many they are) are forced into these breeding houses. Screw this world. It is faker than Kim Kardashian's plastic ass, just as believable (and nowhere as inviting).The Romance: FUCK THAT LOVE TRIANGLE. FUCK THAT. The entire book is filled to the brim of Alexa's wavering heart between the unfortunate friend-zoned Rylan and the douchetastic Prince Damian, who has an "exquisite exterior," as well as an exquisite posterior. The entire book is filled with Rylar's pained protestations of love (love, not like) for Alexa, and Prince Damian's runs-cold-then-hot gestures of love (love, not like) for Alexa. Love! Love! LOVE! SOOOOOOOOOO much love. She admires their well-muscled body, their shirtless moments, seriously, the guys in Playgirl wear more clothing than Damian and Rylan. "I almost cried again. I could no longer deny that I was falling for him---so fast and so hard it scared me. But I had feelings for Rylan, too---he was the closest friend I'd had at the palace."Priorities. Why do you not have them, Alexa? You have a motherfucking country to save.Alexa is a psychic. Well, actually, she's not a psychic, but I'm convinced she is one. You see, she feeeeels things. She seeeeeees things. Prince Damian is a douche. He has always been a douche, but in his eyes, Alexa sees that there's something more. She sees that he's a kindly person because his eyes says so. She feels that he is a gentle soul because of the way he bends his head. She sees that he loves bunnies, puppies, and small children according to the way he hesitates before talking to her. She knows that underneath his cruel front, Prince Damian is the king the country needs, because his farts smell like Calvin Klein Eternity.STOP SEEING STUPID SHIT IN PEOPLE'S EYES. Actions! Actions speak louder than words, people. I hate it when people seeeeees through others' souls in books. Eyes tell you nothing. I once dated a guy who told me that we were meant to be together. He said that he knew I felt the same way, because my eyes were looking into his soul.I was actually thinking of what I would be doing that night when I got home and played on my priest character in World of Warcraft. That was our last date.The end.I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy. All quotes were taken from an uncorrected galley and is subject to change in the final edition

  • Sasha Alsberg
    2019-03-26 19:13

    Slow start, picked up 150 pages in and was interesting but predictable. Alexa literally blushed every 2 pages so that was a bit annoying. I didn't have too high expectations for this book so I'm not disappointed.3.5/5 stars

  • Sara Larson
    2019-03-26 16:33

    MY BOOK IS ON GOODREADS!!! (Also, I might be a tad biased on this one...) ;-)

  • Summer
    2019-04-18 18:41

    Edit: Huh. I can't believe I didn't go over this, but the issue on the rape houses? Yeah, that was another pointless addition to a pointless book.*Thank you Scholastic for sending me this copy via Netgalley.*Blergh. DNF at 85%.More times than I care to count, YA novels usually gain a lower rating from me due to the romance. More specifically, when the romance takes over the plot. Even more specifically, when the love triangle takes over the plot. Grrr.This book had so much potential. So much. What drew me in was the fact that the heroine is disguised as a guy, and is right under the king’s nose as being part of his Royal Guard. Add in some magic, sorcery, and a seemingly good romance, you'd think I'd love this. Right? Right? Nope. By the time everyone found out she was in fact a girl disguised as a guy, things went a bit haywire from there. I began to dread reading the novel as the story progressed.I don’t give a crap if the writing is flawless (which it wasn't), or if the characterization was excellent (which it wasn’t); if the plot is almost nonexistent or taken over by romance, this equation will always be applicable:NO PLOT= VERY ANGRY SUMMER.Before I go into my loathing of the romance, let me delve into the character development. Or lack of it, I should say. See, the heroine Alexa was a very strong-willed, loyal girl at the beginning of the novel, whom I admired greatly. As the story progressed, she became a whiny, self-pitying shell of her former self who spent most of her time trying to choose which guy she loves more. Oh, you poor little thing! You have two guys vying for your attention, life must be so hard, right? Kill me now. Besides her, no one else was developed very well. Defy is supposed to be a high fantasy novel, based on the impression I got by reading the synopsis. Would I believe this based on the actual novel? Nope. There was little world building, so little that the only thing I know about Alexa’s world is that there is a deadly jungle located somewhere in the country (was it even a country?). That, and the vague references to sorcery and magic pretty much constituted my idea of the world. If those were my only two issues, I would have given Defy two stars. Suffice to say, they weren’t my only issues. Alexa is trapped in a love triangle between a snotty prince and a loyal best friend. Much like her YA heroine counterparts, it’s pretty obvious who she chose.I mean, based on the 85% I read, she had already declared her love for the prince. To add to that stupidity, she chose the guy who repeatedly deceived her, lied to her, and tricked her into doing what he wanted her to do. Really, why should she choose the guy who was loyal to her his whole life, who stood by her when she abandoned him, and who always defended her?On top of this, nothing really happened until about 2/3 of the way through, and even that was boring. I’m not entirely certain where the “action” and “intrigue” hinted at in the synopsis came from. Alexa is a Mary Sue, and I do not use this term lightly. She is a speshul girl with magical powers, an undefeatable swordsman, and has the attention of the freaking King’s son. Can you get any more Mary Sue than that?I was expecting more of a Crown of Midnight-ish high-fantasy novel; instead, I was stuck with a sappy teen romance with very little attention given to much else.Seriously, you’re better off watching Mulan.

  • Gillian Berry
    2019-03-25 18:30

    *sad trombone*Originally posted at Writer of WrongsI'm having such a hard time writing this review for multiple reasons, the main one being that I wanted to love this. I wanted so BADLY to love this.I make it no secret that genderbending is one of my favorite tropes on the entire planet. I wrote a whole post about it. The second I read about a girl disguised as a boy in a synopsis (have yet to find a good boy-disguised-as-girl book, but ONE DAY).I want this story. Give me this story, book gods!This synopsis had me drooling, despite the "thrilling love triangle" bit at the top. I kind of ignored that, hoping it would be a palatable love triangle more in the vein of Alanna-George-Jon (more on them in a bit). While I'm not a girl who prefers her romance on the side, I'm sorry to say this angst-fest completely dominated the plot.Which, at first, seems to be pretty good. We're introduced to Alexa, a girl whose parents are murdered (of course, but I can roll with this) and who then disguises herself as a boy to join the army, helped along by her twin brother (*side-eyes Alanna: The First Adventure*). She chops her hair off and assumes the name "Alex". Three years later, she's part of Prince Damian's elite guard, having successfully avoided the heinous fate that befalls most girls orphaned by the war in Antion... the breeding houses.Oh, the breeding houses. Look. I like reading fantasy that deals with misogynist societies and proves how WRONG WRONG WRONG that is. I like genderbending, because it comes with this great message that girls are just as capable as guys, and isn't it STUPID for guys to only realize that after they've been tricked into thinking girls have penises. Also, when done REALLY right, it talks about how meaningless gender roles (and even gender in general--genderally speaking) should be. But Larson has set up a world in which the boys are sent to the army, and the girls are sent to the rape barracks, where they are forcibly impregnated to breed the soldiers of the future.First off: logic fail. The war has only been going on for like ten years. That's a lot of children this budget-stretched kingdom suddenly has to feet, because I'm pretty sure those nine-year-olds aren't exactly ready to fight wicked sorcerers.Secondly... ARGH. Okay. So Ashleigh over at the YA Kitten expressed all the reasons she didn't like the inclusion of this. My issue is that the inclusion of these rape houses seems almost gratuitous. The king needs to be evil, so he's started this. Alexa needs a reason to be frightened to be a girl, so this exists. Alexa needs a motivation, and the menfolk who hate the rape houses need to be shown to be heroes, so they all hate this. The women in this story are either victims, or they're Alexa. Rape is not a plot point or a world-building device. It is not something that happens to other people more than the victim. This book had the potential to be fantastically feminist, and it certainly tried to be, but it missed the mark.Alexa begins with integrity and actually seemed like an interesting character to start. She plays it very close to the ves, and the juxtaposition of what she's feeling with how others perceive her was interesting to me. I even felt for her, particularly in a certain affecting death scene that I liked for plot reasons but that is extraordinarily poorly executed. The writing in this book is overwrought and ungainly at times. It would veer between authentically fantasy-esque and abruptly contemporary. Also, Alexa? I ever hear you use the word "harlot" again, I'm going to punch you. But then Alexa loses her awesome. Why? Because boys. And now I get to talk about the love triangle. Nooooooooo. NOOOOOOO. Noooooooooo.And now I am done talking about the love triangle.Spoiler: this did not happen, but wouldn't THAT have been fun!Okay, no, I'll explain. It's eye-roll inducing. I can guarantee you there will be tons of people who will love this, but I, sadly, am not one of them. I rolled my eyes so hard I sprained them.In this corner we have Rylan, who was tragically born without a personality but luckily has warm chocolate eyes to compensate. Take a shot every time the word chocolate is mentioned in reference to his eyes! In this ring, we have Damon Salvatore Prince Damian. He has dark hair, blue eyes, a tortured past, lots of secrets, and a rockin' bod. Take a shot every time Alexa gets lost in the blue of his eyes.Do you want to know one of the reasons I love girl-disguised-as-boy stories? The gender reveal. The WTF moment. The moment a character's entire perception of he MC changes. The two "SURPRISE! BOOBS!" scenes in the Alanna series by Tamora Pierce, a clear influence in the creation of this novel, remain two of my favorite scenes in history. We're cheated this. Why? SPOILER that is not that big of a spoiler if you were paying ANY ATTENTION: Because both boys knew all along. How is that any fun? That just means it's instalove all over the place! They've both been in love with her since day one! END SPOILER And now she must chooooose, between brown eyes and blue, a boy who's safe and a boy who makes her feeeeeel, the one who knows her secrets and the one WITH all the secrets, the one who zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Blah. The middle section, in which she is trudging through the jungle, dealing with her FEEEEELINGS for both of her boyfriends, is positively turgid. It's all angst and no plot. It is the Harry Potter puppet pal beating his head against the wall. It was long.The genderbending is pointless if you don't ever actually SAY anything about gender roles. If you don't subvert them, challenge them, or force others to rethink them. And in Defy, the entire conceit is pointless. It mostly made me frustrated, annoyed, and... yes, eye-rolly. This book stayed both too close to Alanna and too far. A names, a male twin, a dark-haired blue-eyed prince in love with the secretly female best swordsman in the palace-- all elements from both books. But Defy lacks the message, the fun, and the SHIPS. It lacks the girl power. It lacks the eff you, stereotypes, women are not weaker moment. To put it simply, it lacks.Points for the scene in which Alex is forced to sleep wedged between Damian and Rylan. I laughed heartily for the awkwardness. (Before the cheesy conquered. Oh, lordy.)Also... why are the native people, aka ALL of the main characters in Defy, white? I know this is fantasy, and you can do whatever the heck you want, but Antion is a country covered in jungle. It has mangos, macaws, and acai berries. There are jaguars. This seemed like a fabulous opportunity to include some diversity in fantasy, a genre which has historically been extremely whitewashed, but alas, Alexa's "olive skin" were as POC-y as it got. The world-building was extremely thin and the same vaguely medieval European system, just in a jungle. Like so much of the rest of the book, it was a wasted opportunity. As is the plot, which is disappointingly simplistic for an epic fantasy novel. I am curious about what the plot could be in the second book, but not curious enough.Also, Blevon is a stupid name for a country. As is Blevonese.Siiiiiiiiigh.

  • Sandra
    2019-03-30 19:20

    ROUNDING UP TO 1.5 STARS.Why i thought this would be a really good book i have no idea. Got my hopes to high for this one, and look where it got me.Why do i do this to myself?It actually started really good! At the beginning '4 stars!' was constantly popping up in my head. This is, like, a retelling of Mulan (<--- if you haven't seen that dinsey movie what are you doing with your life?), and i am shocked it wasn't mentioned at all (in the synopsis, on the book cover, ect). Did the author think we would not link the two together?Alexa is a fighter, she has been one since she was a small child. But when war breaks over between the 2 kingdoms, Blevonese and Antion, she watches as the soldiers kill her parents. Her brother and herself are the only ones who survive out of her family. The soldiers take the little girls to a Breeding house, a terrible place where the girls are raped and forced to breed children for the King's army, but before they are able to take Alexa, her twin brother (Marcel) quickly comes up with the idea of disguising her as a boy. Because they are twins all Alexa has to do is cut her long her.(see the evidence and similarity so far?)Now, some 10 years later, Alexa is known as 21 year old boy named Alex (really she is 17), and is a personal guard to the Antion Prince - Damian. She's the best. But even she cannot defeat the powerful sorcerer who sneaks into the castle and abducts the prince, herself, and her best friend Rylan into the wilds of the jungle.The longer she is kept there the sooner she realizes she isn't the only one with secrets...and one of them is the unmistakable attraction towards Damian, the prince. But war is getting out of control...does Alex have the courage and what it takes to end it once and for all?This is 'supposedly' a 'FANTASY' debut novel. I personally think even mentioning the word 'fantasy' in this case is a really offensive thing towards the literature. Let me tell you the truth, THIS.IS.A.YA.ROMANCE. debut novel, a super shitty one at that (but we will get to that later).Kingdoms, kings, princes and swords do not make a true fantasy novel, and they never will! In fact, if not for all of the things i just listed, i would think without a doubt that this is set in the modern times. '....or what shade of chocolate his skin and irises resembled.' CHOCOLATE DID NOT EXIST in eras and worlds like that. By the way - this is the protagonist's POV, so we are inside her head and firstly, she shouldn't even know what chocolate is.Can you picture a soldier just casually unwrapping and eating chocolate? It just doesn't go right, and if the author would be bothered to do some research before starting a 'fantasy' novel she would know that too. Scratch that, listening in history lessons would do the job just as brilliantly. And the author mentioned it not only once and on PAGE 9, but also twice, on page 38!!!! Alexa; At the beginning i really liked her; i thought she was a great and strong protagonist who made it through hell and got out being even more tougher. She managed the pretence of acting like a man for most of her life, and didn't break down in front of anyone (view spoiler)[ even at her brother's funeral! (hide spoiler)], and she also made her voice deepen so it didn't sound too feminin. Gotta respect a girl for that!That was UNTIL, not even a quarter through the book, she COMPLETELY reversed her character personality. Alexa became this silly little girl crying for no freaking reason.......but i knew it wasn't the love he wanted me to feel. Tears filled my eyes, blurring him.'(That was just one of many scenes when she was crying. A soldier like her should be as tough as iron. Not cry because she hurt a guy's feelings).Damian; Damian is the 'spoiled, disrespectful royal brat' whom pretty much everyone hates. That includes our protagonist, Alexa. But he also is a good actor (clue: he is even better from Alexa herself!), and pretends to be someone he isn't. Since they are both kidnapped (along with Rylan), Alexa gets to spend more time with him and *shocker* discovers that beneath all the arrogance is a good hearted guy.I personally felt nothing but suspicion and mostly dislike towards him.Rylan: Rylan is the broken-hearted best friend of Alexa who unfortunately got friend-zoned by her. I actually loved him. I think it might be safe to say that he was my 'favorite'character. Fun, supportive and caring. THE LOVE TRIANGLE (are you ready for this cause i'm fired up now?).The love triangle was possibly the worst thing in Defy. It was the thing that made it go from bad, to really bad.IT PRETTY MUCH TOOK OVER THE WHOLE BOOK, and made it into more of a cheesy and sappy love story that sucked major ass. I did NOT FEEL the chemistry between Damian and Alexa, the author tells us there is 'something going on between them' and that they have the 'hots' for each other. When Alexa said to Damian she 'loved him' and he said he 'cared' i laughed out loud. I was rooting for Rylan, but me being mad that Alexa might as well write 'Damian is the one and only' and stick it on her ass AND forehead to make it even more loud and clear, had nothing to do why this love triangle sucked. It had more to do with me not caring about all the love crap and characters. The world> Sara B.Larson has created was below what i consider 'an ok world-building and era'. The only originality i found was the Breeding House i mentioned in the synopsis; i liked the idea of it but we did not get any information except what is was for. Like, why did the king need so many soldiers, and why couldn't the children be born/bred the natural way (through marriage, ect)? There was nearly no background about neither of the kingdoms, or really anything for that matter. There was absolutely NO information about what the people believed in (their religion). No cultures of any kind. The truly bad thing? The writing style. This is said to be a YA novel, true? Well, whilst reading it i felt like i was reading a book for a 5 year old due to poor writing and all the unnecessary drama. Now when i think of it though, this would be THE perfect thing to read to little children, ideally girls due to romance, who want to get into 'fantasy'. But not for me, and what i was looking for.The ending was over the top dramatic..."Alexa!" I heard Damian's shout moments before he dropped to the ground in front of me, his beautiful blue eyes bright with unshed tears. and i couldn't help me crack up at some scenes. It was so...ironic as well! (view spoiler)[ Alex crying at the end when she got scarred from the fire, and breaking up with Damian partly because of it and partly because he was crowned king. (hide spoiler)]To add to the huge pile why Defy was so bad - it was also predictable and ridiculous; i had the 'plot' (if there was any) figured out since the beginning. Because the author spent about 90% on the romance it was unrealistic too. - (view spoiler)[Alexa thought she 'hid' her secret so well and nailed the job of acting like a man, when in reality half the people knew she was a girl since day 1 and kept it from her.(hide spoiler)]Overall;There is no uniqueness in Defy, world-building, or an actual deep, thoughtout and interesting plotline. It makes me angry as there are so many talented people out there with lots more potential, originality and good ideas that still haven't published their book as they are less lucky or fortunate.Would i recommend Defy? NoWould i re-read it? NoDo i want to write a long complain letter to the author? YesSincerely - The Critic.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Ash Wednesday
    2019-03-24 12:37

    1.5 STARSI really thought reading a non-romance Western before diving into a book as universally panned in my feed as Defy, I'd be able to offer a unique perspective. Because I've been sufficiently warned off from this book but I genuinely thought taking expectations out of the equation, bracing yourself for the worst… maybe it won't be so bad. There's a war waging between Blevon and Antion and Alexa Hollen just lost her parents to a sorcerer. Together with her twin brother Marcel, she is forced to pretend that she's a boy in order to avoid getting sent to the king's "breeding houses" where orphan girls get raped to breed soldiers for the war. Alex/Alexa and Marcel are now part of the Prince's guards as they try to protect his arrogant and pompous ass from assassination and kidnapping.I just shook my head, using the rag to wipe away the sweat dripping down my hairline. Kai and his women. I liked him well enough, but I was glad he didn't know I was a girl. He was attractive, I suppose taller, with his light brown hair pulled back in a ponytail and his green eyes always crinkled at the corners from a constant smile. But if I had to pick the most handsome man on the guard, I definitely preferred Rylan's warm brown eyes. His more subdued, quiet humor. The surprising gentleness he had with animals. Yup, she's got ALL THAT in her plate and her thoughts are oriented towards picking which among her colleagues is the most handsome.And that was 25% in.It's a wonder how she got to walk with all that lady boner she's been sporting all throughout the book. I kinda wish she went and dry humped every tree she came across just to keep these incessant thoughts at bay. Because something has to shut her up long enough to explain what's all that breeding house bizzness (why is it exactly part of the story?) and maybe (view spoiler)[a better mourning for the eventual demise of her brother. (hide spoiler)]If I had to make a comparison Defy is the poorman's third cousin neighbor of the co-worker of your uncle's gardener of Throne of Glass. This book, I feel is a gross misinterpretation of what current YA fantasy trends is all about. Which should come across as comical in its failed attempt but has left me mildly offended concerned instead. Because someone out there thinks this is what I, as a YA fantasy reader, would enjoy. It's an oversimplification of the formula: Strong heroine with proto-feminist advocacies? Alex/Alexa is the best fighter in the exclusively male Prince's Guards. She can kick everyone's ass but she doesn't think she's pretty. She's a tangle of hormones because, you know, seventeen. Obviously. A love triangle between the heroine, authority figure and one of her peers? Alex/Alexa is caught between the abs pecs abs and pecs of Prince Damian, her misunderstood boss who only acts like a brat but is actually philosophical and shiz and Rylan, the pretty guard who is the best among the guards but not as good as Alex/Alexa because again, feminism, yay!"Everything is going to be okay, Alexa. I won't let anyone hurt you, I promise. Not even the king."I stared up at him, my heart in my throat. What was wrong with me? A week ago, I wouldn't even let myself admit that I found any man attractive. And now my heart couldn't seem to remember how to beat normally whenever Rylan or Damian came near me - or when either of them touched me.Sexual tension and angst? Put them all three in a tent/dungeon with Alex/Alexa making out with one guy, add a bit of kissing with heated passion, tingling lips and molten desire flowing in x's veins...while other guy pretends to sleep, crying silent tears of suffering. (To be honest, I'd probably cry too.)An elaborate fantasy plot where the heroine plays a central role? There's some off-hand pew-pew and magicalitism of wizards and sorcerers and spells and people dying shockingly so you could shelf this appropriately. This ofcourse has to lead to the uncovering of details of Alex/Alexa's past that will be pivotal to the climactic fight scene in the end. Because that's what works now, right? Fuck character depth and development. Fuck logic. Fuck it all, there's a little boy carried by Damian on his shoulders while they travel doesn't that make you swoon? Doesn't that melt your cold cynical heart? Wait, what? What did you say? What's the breeding houses for? You misunderstand, this is the first book in the series, this is called leaving room for the rest of the books to grow into a bigger complexity. Who cares about that anyway when there's love, LOVE, LOVE?It was comical enough that the book spent its clunky middle with Alex/Alexa sorting out her emotions and feels for Damian and Rylan WHILE they were held as hostages by a "dangerous" sorcerer. But as if awakened from masturbatory thoughts, someone remembers "oh hey, this is fantasy, we should probably start putting that in too" right in the 70%-ish mark. Such that the clunky delivery got way even more clunkier as chunks of the plot get explained, rationalized and revealed in a lazy Q&A manner between characters.Is this book even trying?Look I'm not in the habit of reading books that have been well-derided by others for the sheer fun of it. I'm afraid I'm all out of snark and creativity and I have enough enough wrinkles as it is. But I really thought there was some redeeming aspect, some silver lining, the smallest reason to give it a chance and not be so universally burned.Yeah we're just going to leave this right back there.Also on BookLikes.ARC provided by Scholastic Press thru Netgalley in exchanger an honest review. Quotes may not appear in the final edition.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Whitley Birks
    2019-04-18 15:24

    See more on my blog.This book started out with one of the most horrific displays of misogyny possible, and then it carries on in a mediocre fashion after that. I probably would have finished reading the book if I hadn’t been so pissed off from the start, but it wasn’t good enough to carry me through my distaste, so I DNF-ed at about halfway through, when I realized that the main character wasn’t going to shut up about all the toned and muscled torsos around. (You’d think they were painted in neon with how often she notices and/or stares at them. I love a nice pack of abs as much as the next girl, but in the middle of first aide is not the time for that.)The book opens up with Alexa’s brother deciding she needs to pretend to be a boy so that she can avoid the rape houses. Yes, you read that right. In this book, young orphaned girls are sent to “breeding houses” to be raped until they conceive and then the children are taken away to “be soldiers.”Let’s see how many things I can find wrong with this basic premise without even trying. It’s impractical; girls in shitty conditions get pregnant, but not as often as they would when under less stress, so you’re basically shooting efficiency in the face. It’s impractical; if you need soldiers now, babies aren’t going to help.Girls can do stuff besides get pregnant. PREGNANT girls can do stuff besides BE pregnant; there’s point in keeping them all in a rape house and not doing anything.If you’re strapped for bodies and really that against sending girls to combat, send your male servants and replace them with girl servants because as I said girls are capable of doing things. It’s incredibly insulting to history; what, you think real palace servants weren’t raped and then their babies pressed into royal service? That wasn’t good enough for you? You had to make dedicated rape houses to up the drama? I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH, GIRLS CAN DO STUFF, IF YOU NEED BODIES TO DO STUFF, THEN USE THE GIRLS. The only way this makes sense from a worldbuilding standpoint is if you really can’t think of anything girls are good for except sex and childbearing. There was no point, and in the end, it came off as if the rape houses were just there to provide angst and excuse for Alexa to pretend to be a boy. So not only is it illogical as hell, but it’s being used as a cheap threat, to show that the main character is in danger without actually defiling her “purity.”And that’s just what I’ve got off the top of my head. So, from the word go, I’m pissed off at this book, anther in a long line of books that use rape as a cheap plot point without really actually saying anything about it.But there’s more. The worldbuilding in this book is terribly lacking. There’s a jungle, I guess, and they eat tropical fruits, but the rest of the world is so sparse that I really can’t picture it. Honestly, I thought that Alexa’s people were recent conquerors because so many little things followed standard pseudo-European fantasy tropes. The whole of it was tropes and jungle, that’s all you get. We can’t even get a good read on how sexism works in this country, because the only points of data we’ve got are “rape houses” and “everyone who finds out about Alexa’s gender is totally cool with it.” …what?The plot felt…skeletal. I was so excited about a girl pretending to be a boy in the army, because I love that shit, but everything was skipped over. The most Alexa ever had to do to hide her gender was bind her breasts, we didn’t get to see any training or any logistics about hiding, nothing. Just skip straight to the point of love triangle, because it’s not like the mechanics of hiding one’s gender is interesting, right? And Alexa didn’t seem to have a good grasp on being a boy, because she kept defaulting to stereotypes and assumptions about macho behavior, so she read like someone who had only just started hiding, instead of someone who had been doing it for three years. At that point, she should know how guys act and not freak out over the least sign of emotions as if such things are antithetical to manhood. She should have seen guys acting in all manners and known that she could do the same, but no, she’s stuck in a rut. She’s like that awkward phase (Disney) Mulan went through when she first arrived to sign up for the army, only instead of being awkward and everyone wondering what’s wrong with her, the book plays off like that’s really how guys are.Book, have you ever met a guy?The plot itself had promise, and I honestly did want to see where it went, but it kept being dolled out in tiny little drops, in between Alexa going on about muscled chests and then pretending she can’t cry over her dead brother because that’s too girly. I was too annoyed at everything in between plot points to keep reading, especially since the interesting bits were so far apart.A galley copy was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honesty review.

  • Pamela
    2019-04-09 11:27

    I have many feelings about Defy, and it's difficult for me to articulate them in a coherent review right now. So let's just do a little list first, eh?1. My main issue with this is that it started out with a lot of promise despite basically reworking something that's been done much better (more on that later) and I was reading with a lot of interest to see what was happening. The breeding houses concept, while horrifying, was an interesting plot point that totally gets abandoned (except for the nice clean-up bit).2. Is there some sort of Scholastic vs. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt feud going on? Because Defy looks an awful lot like this:Hmmmm.3. Defy is trying very, very, very hard to be like 10 different great books at the same time. I've noticed that none of the positive reviews on this site reference, at all, one of the best girl-as-boy-fighter books/series, the Song of the Lioness quartet (i.e. "Alanna books") by the illustrious Tamora Pierce. I feel like the descriptions of breast binding, in particular, were pulled straight from Pierce. This ticks me off enormously. Plus, aren't the names Alex/Alexa and Alec/Alanna a smidge too close for comfort?Then, of course, we have the Graceling aspects of the novel. The political issues between kingdoms (such as they are--again, more on that later), and the fighting prowess of the main lead. Also that bloody dagger on the cover. Interestingly, Alexa is not only great with a sword, but also a crack shot with a bow and arrow--at one point, she states that she never misses. Katness Everdeen, anyone? 4. ALL THE CHEST MUSCLES. Seriously. Alexa has *instalove* with the prince she's hated for years just because she saw his well-defined pecs? Creeping on a dude while he's having a nightmare, and you're supposed to be protecting him as a professional bodyguard? Stay classy, Alexa. And then once the references to the sexiness of the men begin, they never. Stop. Ever. I hit 50% on my e-reader and every other paragraph was Damion this or that other guy she was interested in maybe kinda sort (I called him Ralph in my head), comparisons of their musculature, their piercing eyes, lips brushing fingers oh my gosh I'm going to vomit. As soon as all of this happens, there's a major shift in the power dynamic as well. Now Alexa has to be protected because *gasp* people know she's a girl. And she keeps saying stuff like, "Oh, I don't know how to be a girl" and "I must stop thinking about him in that way." *bangs head against wall*Look, I realized going into this that there was a love triangle. It says so right in the description. However, I don't really think this was a love triangle. It was just a mess. Alexa clearly prefers the Bad Boy Prince to her co-bodyguard Ralph (or whatever), who has the personality of a piece of cardboard. 5. The setting/genre of the book is labeled high fantasy, but it really doesn't feel so far removed from our world (except for the sorcerer bit, but really, tossing in a few sorcerers doesn't save the book). Alexa's kingdom is in the jungle, which is pretty much like Brazil in the Amazon basin, according to all the descriptions in the book. In this "high fantasy," characters eat very fantastical foods like mangoes and açai berries (which Alexa condescends to explain to us plebes in case we haven't seen anything on antioxidants in the last five years). Yes, a lot of fantasy does draw from our world--case in point, Tamora Pierce! The Yamani empire is very similar to feudal Japan, but it's not a perfect match, and Pierce creates her own words, foods, customs, and so forth. It's just similar enough to be relatable, but different enough to be intriguing. I actually think Defy might have worked better as a post-apocalyptic-set-in-Brazil YA novel instead of "high fantasy."I marked this as "dnf" because I skimmed the second half of the book. I know some people will think I am "bashing" or being harsh on this book. That's fine. I have no negative feelings toward the author at all, and I completely understand that you want your work to be well reviewed. However, since I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review, here is my honest opinion. To air all the laundry, I also had a case of side-eye going with Scholastic here. I applied for an ARC of this on NetGalley. I received a rejection saying that my credentials weren't good enough to read the book. So, you know, the fact that I'm a teen librarian means nil. Whatever--I'll probably still order it for the library because someone will request it. Literally (I mean that in a very real sense) the day after I got that email, I got another email from NetGalley saying that ARCs of Defy were available to everyone. How ... exactly does that work?Final note: who really uses the word "harlot" in conversation? It's really glaring because the rest of the characters' speech patterns are pretty contemporary.

  • Melanie
    2019-04-19 16:13

    See more reviews at YA Midnight ReadsDespite my one star rating, I wasn’t at all disappointed with Defy. Simply because I knew it was going to be bad, and I went into this novel just to see how terrible it was. However, I had not expected it to be so bad that I nearly vomited in my mouth.Defy checks all boxes for one of the worst fantasy books I’ve read this year. Sure, we’re only 7 days into 2014 but I can just feel like it’s going to be the worst I’ve encountered.1. Fail, un-kick-ass protagonist? Check. We have Alexa (Alex) Hollen, disguised as a boy to be her brother’s twin in order to escape the breeding houses instead to be a member of Prince Damian’s personal guard. Apparently, Alex could beat the captain of the guard in a match but I felt that Alex was so weak. I wanted an as hard as nails chick who would kick ass in her sleep. I wanted a girl with a heart of steel. But instead I got a girl who dreams of her two love interests. I got a girl who couldn’t stop her goddamn emotions. There was this certain scene where the main characters are being attacked and Alex quickly jumps into the action, I was rather confused. Because her personality was whiny and girly, I totally forgot that Alex was supposed to be some heroic and kick-ass boy.2. Non-existent world building? Check. For majority of the time, I couldn’t imagine anything that the author was taking about. Just insert some castle here and jungle there, viola! I need more details, more substance. And not breeding houses.3. Illogical plotting? Check. So there’s a war that’s been going on for some 10-20 years and the evil, evil king decides to get all females who have reached the age where they can reproduce to go to these breeding (rape) houses so they can make soldiers. So basically, these lil’ infants are going to go to war. WUT? You at least have to have them grow up as well as train them which is also gonna take another 10-20 years. How the flip does that work when your nation is already losing the war? How long is this war gonna go on for? NOTHING MAKES SENSE.4. No history on the world the author as created? Check. Apart from the horrendous and irrelevant breeding houses, we don’t have much else. There’s no history of what happened to make this war begin and stuff like that. I don’t want to be thrown in the middle of a book and just left there staring into the distance. I need background information. I need to know why some people have special powers and why some don’t.5. Love triangle? Check. We have a snotty and lazy and ungrateful Prince Damian and a sweet but annoying best friend Rylan. Who does she choose? Why of course, the impossible to have, Prince Damian! *rolls eyes**SPOILER*What makes me want to gag more is that it just happens that both love interests knew that she was a girl ever since and loved her ever since. O___O*END SPOILER*If you want a girl disguised as a guy, go for Eon or watch Mulan. Honestly. Don’t waste your time on this.~Thank you Scholastic for sending me this copy!~

  • Gail Carriger
    2019-03-21 16:25

    This book contains one of my favorite tropes: a girl who disguises herself as a boy. In this particular novel's take on the trope the main character, Alexa, is forced to undertake subterfuge, because of her government's violence towards women. In other respects, this novel is a classic monarchical drama of transference of power. At the beginning of the novel I found it difficult to like Alexa, she seems to have little personality of her own. However, as the story progressed I liked her more.The main character's gender is discovered and or known by several male characters, most of whom then fall in love with her. This gives it a certain Mary Sue vibe, compounded by the fact that the heroine is overly special in her skills and abilities and thus vital to the fate of the country. In this regard, I found the story somewhat predictable. The romances, and there is a classic love triangle, were equally predictable. By the end, while I was very much enjoying the story and had grown to identify with Alexa more, I never did get behind the romances. That aspect of the story felt overly angst ridden (although I do think teen readers would enjoy it). I also think that Twilight has a lot to answer for.This is the start of a series, and it certainly has the feel of needing to read all of the books. As there are only three I might go for it (anymore and I couldn't take the angst). I refuse to get into another Terah Edun Sworn situation.

  • Steph Su
    2019-04-02 13:18

    May this book serve as early 2014's warning against faux-feminist YA literature. It terrifies me to consider the deeper implications of how a book with such an unbelievably wrong heroine is being marketed as "strong female lit." Because DEFY is no feminist work at all--it's chock-full of well-meaning but insidious interpretations of such terms of empowerment. I love a rollicking girl-disguises-herself-as-a-boy read as much as the next person, but when it's done incorrectly (to be explained in a moment's time), it becomes not a fun and freeing read, but rather a disturbing revelation into the bonds of patriarchy that still bind so many of us, both male and female.When is a gender switcheroo story done in the wrong mould? When it becomes little more than a superficial opportunity for the protagonist to mouth off or for love interests to fall for her. Such is the case with what's-her-name in this book. (Okay, fine, her name's is Alexa/Alex. I would go through the entire review using just what's-her-name and what's-his-face, but there are two what's-his-faces that I have a problem with, so this is going to get too confusing too soon.) When it comes to Alexa hiding her true sex, there is disappointingly little urgency to the matter: we readers are told that's it's practically a matter of life and death for her to not reveal that she's a girl, and yet she does such a poor job of it that I'm left feeling incredulous about the fact that she actually survived years in her role. More times than I care to count, Alexa’s narration veers into an ogling description of a nearby man’s face or body. Not only do I not want to read about chiseled jaws and flashing dark eyes and twitching biceps, but Alexa’s objectification of the bodies of the men around her pretty much eradicates any possibility of my believing that she’s actually a competent guard on the most elite guard crew. There is little said about Alexa’s natural talent for swordsmanship, nor the discipline of her guard duties, nor the hierarchies of an army-like job—descriptive elements I would expect to give me a rounded sense of world-building…because Alexa’s too busy thinking about men’s bodies.Nor do the other characters’ interactions with Alexa befit those of people who believe they’re actually speaking to a guy. Witness a random interaction that I highlighted on my Kindle:Rylan laughed. “So you do have a weakness after all! I have to admit, I’d never have guessed it would be snakes.”I shoved him hard enough that he had to check his balance so he didn’t topple into the river. “If you tell anyone, I will shoot you in the mouth without hesitation.”“Whoa.” He held up his hands in mock surrender. “You have my word. I’ll never mention your mortal fear of snakes to anyone.”To my eyes, Rylan speaks to Alexa as if he were speaking to a tomboy, not a boy. He’s flirting, not making small talk. Big difference. Big mistake in a book where the protagonist is supposed to be disguising herself as a guy. And Alexa’s retort is so over the top in its viciousness that it again doesn’t ring true to me. If her comrades actually thought she was a guy, they probably would’ve steered clear of the aggressive psycho a long time ago, not poke at the dragon’s eye. This doesn’t feel like two guys talking to each other at all.In another encounter with another man, Alexa snaps,“I’m perfectly capable of moving on my own.”Even a quick dash of a line like this causes me to shake my head in disbelief. There’s something about the…cadence of the dialogue that conjures up images of Austenian characters wearing corsets and twirling parasols in my head, rather than, uh, what I’m supposed to think of. She sounds to me like a girl trying to sound tough, and her male peers respond to her as if to exactly that, humoring this girl who’s desperately trying to earn her leather jacket of toughness.It comes as no surprise, then, what with the number of times Alexa’s caught looking at her fellow guards or at the prince, and the joking, inconsequential way with which they respond to her psychopathic behavior, that about a third of the way through the book there is the revelation that (view spoiler)[Rylan, her loyal best buddy in the guard, knew that she was a girl all along (hide spoiler)]. Oh em gee! This would bother me more had I not been so unsurprised, due to how poorly Alexa disguises her sex herself, but it also pisses me off because—Antifeminist Lesson #2 (number one was somewhere back there)—this means that Alexa never even had the opportunity to be anything more than her sex to her loyal best buddy. Because Rylan’s clearly one of the points on the Love Triangle That Will Down This Ship (it says so right there on the jacket synopsis, no spoiler alert), and this revelation just seems to indicate that he never stopped seeing her as a girl this whole time. In other words, Alexa never had to try to charm the guy with actual friendliness, because he was CLEARLY in love with her all along. Wish fulfillment at its most dangerous: be rude, lash out at your male buddy, but he will still love you after all that because You Are Woman.So I’m left with at least two messages on heterosexual flirtations:1. The “one of the guys” girl is just the cleverest, most manipulative bitch this side of Medusa, because she’s not actually being “one of the guys,” but rather taking liberties in voyeurism among their company. Hate this woman, women, because she’s just out to get all available men.2. Guys like it when you’re rude and abusive to them. When you’re rude and abusive to guys, they know it’s actually because you’re in love with them.Let us not speak more than a little of the utter trope-iness of the romance(s) in DEFY: Damian, the verbally abusive elite whose assholery is absolved because he’s secretly “sensitive,” only he can never show it for fear of puncturing his manly reputation; and Rylan, kind-eyed plebe who’s the not-so-silly Ducky to Alexa’s Molly Ringwald, who’s loved her since before she knew him and who will stand by her forever while she wails in agony about the truth of her feelings for Damian.And yet, despite all of this, I already know that DEFY’s going to be a bestseller. How do I know this? Because the love triangle is the point of the story. The rest is just fanciful decoration pretending to be necessary. As goes so many of the tales of YA bestsellers nowadays.The “strong female” potential of DEFY fails at its onset: its premise is not to display the main character’s fortitude of character, but rather to “ingeniously” put her in an environment full of guys and have them fall in love with her. Again, wish fulfillment at its most dangerous: attempts to satisfy the heteronormative patriarchy masquerading as feminism.I mean, by all means, fans of Tammara Webber, Aimee Carter, and Leigh Bardugo, knock yourselves out with this one, it’s perfect for you. I got 40% of the way through and decided to stop wasting my time blowing my brains out.

  • Nafiza
    2019-04-15 17:24

    Warning: The following contains (non-major) spoilers. Read at your own risk.I just finished this book, not even am hour ago (I’m writing this at 6:12 am on the 28th of December, 2013). And I felt compelled to review it immediately lest I lose all the thoughts that have accumulated in my mind about this novel.So, first things first, I did not like this novel.Disclaimer: I am not being mean. I am stating an opinion that I will attempt to expound on below.Right, this novel is about a pair of twins. Goodness, I’m reading quite a few books about twins recently and managing to not like all of them. As I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself, this book is about twins and we meet them in a very compelling prologue. The brother and sister pair have just witnessed the deaths of their parents and other loved ones at the hands of the enemies (who are soldiers from a neighboring country). In the horizon is the approaching army, friendly, ostensibly but we know better. No kingdom that has a breeding house is one I want to be present in but it provides a legitimate motive for the brother to chop off the sister’s hair so that they can both be twin brothers and join the king’s army. So they do and then we forward four years later where they have both been promoted to be the sulky crown prince’s private guard.And banzai! The story is off to a grand start. We meet Alex nee Alexa as she beats the living crud out of her brother. They are sparring. This is what bored soldiers do. And because Alex is such a special snowflake, she was able to beat the captain of the guard, a man probably five times her weight (I don’t think they give soldiers much to eat), years of experience and toughness. Of course, she was too young to be made the captain so she remains their best fighter and without any real power. Excuse me while I smirk. This is not really a spoiler but the only character who could have salvaged the story for me was killed about 5% in. I’m talking about the brother because apparently it is a law in YA fiction that no siblings may co-exist without one dying by painful and often traumatic means. Yeah. I don’t understand the brother’s purpose, really, he was killed off so soon that I am still wondering why he was even present. Anyway, let’s move on.As soon as the brother’s gone, Alex becomes Alexa and just ugh. It’s like she switches personalities or something. The whinefest begins and does not end. The love triangle goes online with vicious determination. The crown prince, of course, and the fellow guard who has silently loved Alexa ever since he heard her brother call her by her real name. And you know who she goes for. There are scenes where she is sleeping in the middle with the two boys surrounding her because they have to share a tent. And then she’s smooching one of the guys while the other one, who has confessed his love to her only earlier that afternoon, is sleeping on the other side. There is “aching need” amongst other things and kisses with both guys to spice things up because lord forbid Alexa act with something other than her hormones.Right. For a book that started with such promise, its deterioration (for me) was swift and vicious. The novel changes from a story about the interesting politics in a fantasyland to become a soap opera about who will choose who and when someone will be betrayed as they are wont to be. Also, handing a girl a sword and giving her the skills to wield it does not make her a strong badass character. A strong female character does not need to even hold a sword to be badass. She needs to show true strength of character which Alexa (or Alex for that matter) did not show. The novel falls victim to a whole host of clichés and uses contrived circumstances to build pallid relationships that eschew slow and careful character growth for forced romances. I really cannot recommend this though I am sure that there are people who will love this. The novel just was not for me.

  • Kathy * Bookworm Nation
    2019-04-02 17:27

    A great addition to the YA High Fantasy genre, which is a favorite of mine. I love stepping out of our contemporary world and into a fictional land. With fantasy novels anything is possible; I love the magic, politics and romance. This story had them all. Our heroine Alexa was likable and easy to root for. She has to hide her identity to protect herself and for the past three years has not only been a personal guard to the Prince, but has also been disguising herself as a boy. Normally I’m not a huge fan of the girl-dresses-as-boy storyline, but it was well done here. I guess I have a hard time believing people would be fooled. I think since no one knew her before and the fact she looks so much like her twin brother it was easy for them to believe. For the past three years everyone has known her as a boy, but in that same time she has actually grown into a young woman. She is now seventeen and beginning to show an interest in a couple guys and is surprised when they are showing an interest in her. It was interesting to see how she begins to see herself differently. Never really finding herself pretty and content with being a soldier, it was nice to see her softer, feminine side come out. To have men appreciate her for more than her fighting skills. For those who know me, you know I am not a fan of love triangles. While this one was better than most, it still seemed a little unnecessary to me. I liked both guys (which of course must be a requirement with LTs), Prince Damian really grows as the story progresses and the more we learn about him the more you like. I also liked fellow guard Rylan, who is loyal and protective and an all around good guy. I like who Alexa ends up with and thought they had good chemistry. I think their story could have been better and developed more if the LT element wasn’t involved (but, again that’s mostly because I don’t care for LT). I also have to say (view spoiler)[ I skimmed over a few other reviews and I had to add my two cents. I was frustrated when people were saying that the fella’s were being manipulative. I personally didn’t find them that way at all. First, Damian is not only the Prince, but has also had a very hard life. He has no idea who he should trust, so why should he spill all his secrets to Alexa right off the bat? It only makes sense that she would be on a need to know basis. I thought it was dumb when other reviews said he was manipulating her by keeping stuff from her. Duh. As for Rylan, he spent the past three years falling for her, keeping her secret and when he reveals himself I can only imagine what a shock that would be to her. She would feel a sense of responsibility and guilt for not returning those feelings 100% and it seemed realistic that she would feel like she has to apologize for hurting him, while still trying to figure out how she feels. She might be a skilled fighter, but she has never had to deal with a guy showing interest in her, let alone two.(hide spoiler)]Overall, I thought it was a fun read. I was luckily able to read it on my iPhone, so I could read and take care of my new baby at the same time. I had a hard time putting it down and wanted to keep reading to see what would happen next. I thought things ended well, but also look forward to reading more in the series. A great debut. Content: Clean, PG13. Clean romance, language and mild violence. Talk of breeding houses and rape (not descriptive).

  • Krystle
    2019-04-15 11:22

    So you’re writing that excruciating 500 page young adult fantasy and you’re wondering how to turn your baby into a money grabbing best seller, amirite? Follow this outline and you’re sure to bring in the big bucks!Let’s begin with the key points:Shallow/Shoddy WorldbuildingOh no, let’s not make this deep. We want to make this fast and sweet, young adult readers don’t care about your expansive worlds! They want the here and now! We’ve got your base kingdom, your other kingdom that wants to start a war with yours (reasons need not be supplied, it’s because they just do!), and some strange sketchy land in between.You must add some sort of dark element to your world to make it seem more gritty. It’ll do wonders for your plot! This’ll really differentiate your book from all those other poser fantasy novels! Yours will stand out, fo’ sho.Cheap PlotWho cares if it’s predictable! The easier for your target audience to understand, right? That way you can totally bypass those nasty reviewers who don’t get what your book is about.Throw in a few random twists that make no sense either, it doesn’t matter! It’s called dramatic tension.Use characters for your own means so that they fit into the plot and make things happen. You don’t need to give them a voice or a backstory, they’re just there to move your plot forward.Overdone Love TriangleYou cannot leave this out. One romance interest? Boring! What’s better than one boy? TWO BOYS. It’s best you make one the naughty, dashing, daring, delicious bad boy that treats the female character like crap and the other a nice, sensible, polite, compassionate, and understanding friend who gets to be used as our main character’s emotional rag but always remember to keep him firmly in the friend zone.These boys must make their entire existence about your female character because who doesn’t want to have the attention of hot boys, amirite? Wicked assassin? Deadly spy? Doesn’t matter when it comes to love!Your female must be effusive in her sentiments as well! It doesn’t do to leave everyone hanging. You must make her feelings and conflict over which boy she wants loud and clear, preferably in every chapter. Every page, maybe, if your plot or characters are lacking that oomph.Terrible CharactersYour female character must either be an obstinate fool who listens to no one and endangers everyone or a super strong badass girl who can defeat anyone and everything in sight! She also has to be stunningly beautiful no matter what the occasion along with her luscious curves to drive those infatuated boys into a frenzy.Don’t forgot your mean bad boy love interest who demeans, belittles, disparages, or is downright cruel to our female. They get off on that stuff, oh yeah.So how does Defy stack up?Shallow/Shoddy Worldbuilding? Check!It has the grim part down to a tee! The author throws in some lovely breeding (rape, really) houses in here for some darkness. Merely a simple add on to make her world seem so dark. Who cares about the fact that if all the young women are sent in here who’d want to support or live under this kingdom? Haha! Who cares about that idea! We need the juicy stuff here people!Cheap Plot? Check!Yep! Everything’s all laid out and predictable here. These kingdoms all just want to get it on with each other but first before the oh so surprising plot twist, let’s kill off some characters to get the tension going! Yum!Overdone Love Triangle? MOST DEFINITE CHECK!Yep, we’ve got loads of this! Like your classic Korean Drama love triangle. There’s the jerk who’s loaded and the absolute star of a best friend who always supports the girl but always gets shafted.Don’t forget how this love triangle takes up every page with their relationship dramas and the poetic waxing of their “feelings”.Oh, that plot? Haha! Forget about it! The love triangle is the plot now. You totally only wanted to read about their lustful gazes at each other and their oh so deep connections.I say this could be part of terrible characters as well but Alex is just a stirring lady! Hey, after your friend confesses his feelings to you, you go and have sensual times with the other boy in the SAME TENT you sleep, not to mention that poor friend-zoned boy can hear everything. Tact much? Nah. Just awful.Terrible Characters? Check!Man, that Alex sure has a 180 degree personality change. Hard hearted, stoic, kick butt female who’s strong and super skilled but somehow has a soft side. She sure can fool all these men with her long, lingering gazes, amirite? Not to mention after she’s been revealed she gets all soft, whines, cries, and is not pro-active whatsoever in the situations she’s in. But that’s okay because now she’s found her true feminine side.Of course there’s you’re superficial and one-dimensional stock villains but hey, that’s a standard in these type of YA fantasies, right? They’ve got no depth and you don’t really understand why they’re so bad for any reason but hey that makes excellent series fodder where we can stretch out already skimpy material in more books!Rating score?CONGRATULATIONS! This book meets all the criteria to be a perfect New York Times Bestselling Book! It’s terrible but it’s what you all want.(end note: it took me forever to write this review)

  • Misty
    2019-03-28 12:38

    I hadn't heard of Sara B Larson's debut, Defy, until it showed up in my mailbox, which is shameful of me, because I'm normally pretty on top of anything that even hints at the phrase "gender-bender." (I blame this almost completely on Tamora Pierce, and probably a little bit on movies like Rocky Horror, Ladybugs, To Wong Foo and Just One of the Guys. My formative years in a nutshell, friends.) So even though I had no plans to read this, and a whole stack of other things that needed to be read instead, I promptly sat down with this one almost immediately upon opening the package.And for all my high hopes and a fairly strong start, I was sadly disappointed.Defy was an oddly confused piece of writing. It doesn't know if it wants to be the next big smexy romance novel or a straight-forward epic fantasy, so it tries to do both, and fails. 'Hot and bothered' just doesn't work as well when there are more pressing concerns like fighting for your life. Now, I've always been one to say that romance still has a place - maybe even more of a place - when the setting isn't all that conducive to a romance; people still fall in love in the middle of wars. Emotions are heightened, life seems short, and people carpe the hell out of their diems. But... if that's the case you wanna make, then that mentality, that forced, manic, precarious vitality has to be represented and believable. And those other concerns, like war and death and hurt, loss, pain, anxiety — they need to intrude, need to make up a bulk of the characters' thought-space, even. Otherwise, it makes your characters seem vapid and self-absorbed, and all of the potential tension in your story (beyond the sexual) goes right out the window. If they don't legitimately fear for their lives, we won't. If they only care about the ills of society in a cursory way, when forced to, we'll either stop caring about the world, or stop caring about the characters. (And by we, I mean me, but I'm guessing some of you, too.)Defy felt like a lot of potential, wasted. And I don't just mean the more dire aspects of the society, and the seriousness of the situation. Even Alexa's disguise as Alex felt wasted. Larson does have talent that tries to rear its troublesome head, but beyond the lack of depth and the apparent obviousness of Alexa's disguise (who doesn't know? I think just adults, who presumably are too busy or too obtuse to pay attention to anything around them...Like the fact that one twin matures from boy to going-on man while the other remains sexless and ambiguous. Or the fact that one twin (the not-boy one) seems to spend most of his/her time openly leering at all of the sweaty dreamboats in his/her regiment...), I just felt like there needed to be more follow-through, follow-all-the-way-through, in Defy. There needed to be some psychology, some cause-effect, and all those fundamental hallmarks of good world & character building. Two apparently-straight boys are in love with someone pretending to be a boy - shouldn't there be...a grappling with confusing feelings? As a woman in a society where women are forced into brothels to be brood mares for the army, shouldn't their be some real hatred and bitterness? More distrust, more paranoia and caution in regards to the "disguise," or some acting-out, and even some self-loathing for being a member of the Army that helps prop up this institutionalized sex trafficking? Though there was a scene - a single scene - of disgust for the world Alexa lives in, I can't say that it was really more than set-up for a pivotal moment of the book -- a means to an end, and not a real analysis or condemnation of the world. It was well-done in the moment, and then relegated to the d-plotlines once again.There were things that should have been explored and capitalized on, that should have had a greater share of the focus, over faux drama and twu wuv. So Alexa's the best fighter ever, and she's maybe magic ooh ahh. She's also smart and resourceful (one assumes), so let us see some more of that. She shows moments, but let's have more than moments; let's have that be the bulk of the narrative instead. Not confused longing and a lip-service condemnation of the serious ills of the world, before getting back to the Very Urgent Business of who's hotter, the prince or the pauper? I try not to get too moral when it comes to a book and how it presents its story -- I generally don't feel authors have some sort of "responsibility" to...well, anything, really, other than the story they set out to tell. But as amoral a reader as I am, I couldn't help but be bothered by the shock tactic of using the forced prostitution of children as an easily-discarded frame for a story about how Alexa's milkshake swordplay brings all the boys to the yard.Now. I've gone very negative, and some of that may be the wine talking (but probably not), so I do want to say that some of this I just saw as rookie mistakes. The story could have done with a lot of lengthening, which, beyond making more depth likely, would have allowed for more of an exploration of some of these difficult plotlines. The timeframe is very compressed, and if you're rushing to get your main characters alone in the woods together so they can get their angsty-flirt on, you're bound to neglect some of the more troublesome aspects of the story. They're just not as fun, amirite? The story as a whole would have benefitted from a slower pace, and I know I'm not the only one who thought that:And while we're talking about rookie mistakes, even though it seems silly after the more serious stuff: the names! What was with the names? They were so jarring to me; every last one of them seemed like something the author thought sounded cool, and not at all like something that fit the world being built. Cultures have patterns, languages have forms and cadence and a feel to them, and these things all make part of a believable world. Names are a much bigger part of that than you'd think, because they represent the characters who are our 'in' to the world, and therefore represent the world itself; you can't have:This one is Frenchish, and this one's English-like, this sounds kinda Spanishy, and ooh, this sounds "exotic" and maybe a little ethnic, so that's perfect - let's toss them all together into my insular, isolated world! Perfect! No one would ever believe they didn't develop organically as an extension of the culture and language of a people! *pats self on back* Choosing something with no real rhyme or reason other than it sounds badass is something a budding writer does in middle school. You gotta murder your darlings, baby, and you gotta make sound decisions rather than "cool" ones. I just had to get that little rant out of the way, 'cause it bothered me...BUT, all that said, it is very fast-paced, and managed to be engaging even when it was getting under my skin. I saw enough in it that I would read the follow-up, even if it won't be high-priority; there is talent there, it just wants developing, and I'm curious to see what Larson does in the future. And I think I'll get that chance, as I have a feeling Defy is going to find a very devoted audience. (In fact, judging from some of my GR friends' reactions, it already has.) No matter how much we all rail against it and its predictability, there's always a huge market for love triangles; everybody wants to be Team Somebody. Defy will have that in spades. It's just the rest of it - all of its other bookness - that failed to deliver. It's probably a good "epic fantasy" for people who don't actually like epic fantasy, but want to feel like they're reading one - it gives you the bare bones of such a thing, with some vaguely jungle-ish world-building, looming war and atrocities, and mad swordplay skillz, but in the end, it's really just a standard YA love triangle dressed up in epic fantasy's clothing, like a child wearing her mother's heels and playing house.

  • Anna Luce Smyth
    2019-03-26 11:21

    24/11/13This sounds promising!Am I the only one who thought of Mulan?

  • Robin (Bridge Four)
    2019-04-20 18:25

    This is listed as a fantasy and I love YA fantasies, I was really hoping for something along the lines of Mulan. But, if I rated this as a fantasy I’d probably only give it 1 star. Just because you give a girl a sword and put her in a world with castles, Kings and Sorcerers your work shouldn’t be done. A great fantasy has a new world or society with a lot of detail to it in my opinion. I want to believe, I want to picture the people, the housing, the society and for the most part I didn’t get a clear picture of the world this was set in. Also the romance totally hijacked the plot line, so I’m going to think of it as a YA romance with some fantasy aspects. Things I liked:I like our MC Alexa for the most part. She is strong works harder than everyone around her and has been hiding the secret that she is a girl for 3 years with the help of her twin brother. She is now 17 and her body is becoming a little bit of an issue it is getting harder to hide the curves and I’m assuming the hormones are starting to control her senses a little more and she starts noticing a few of the men around her. But she is loyal and capable and even if the Prince seems lazy it is her duty to obey and protect him so she does it with the utmost respect for the office.I liked the idea of the story, of somehow overthrowing the mean king and saving the people of the country. I liked Prince Damian once we get to see the real person behind the mask when he isn’t acting like a selfish brat and his love of his country.I’m not a huge fan of love triangles in YA because they usually distract from the actual story and this one is no different it actually hijacked everything about the story so that it became the story. Both love interests are good people the Prince and another Guard that Alexa has worked with closely for years. Both seemed to know she was a girl the entire three years to make it not seem like an insta-love situation. I liked that she did not lead either interest on or play them off one another. As a love triangle goes I hate that so this one isn’t all that bad it is acceptable. I liked the ending of the book, it is a war and there will be scars but they don’t define who you are and the people that truly care about you will see past them. It is a good moral to the story along with be who you are. In that regard I’m fine with how everything turned out.Things that didn’t work for me:Besides not having enough detail for the fantasy world building there were some issues that I couldn’t let go. The huge one was Alexa was captured and her hands were bound at some point during the book. She traveled with soldiers who thought she was a boy for days and they didn’t notice the entire trip that she was a girl. I’m just going to say if she can’t sneak off to pee it is going to be a dead giveaway and I doubted she held it the entire trip. There were a few other issues like this while she was pretending to be a boy that I just didn’t buy into either.But the major complaint I have is the Breeding House. This is a YA novel and the description of and moments in the breeding house were horrendous. While I agree that the King needed to be shown and cruel and uncaring to make the reader hate him the ‘overuse’ or ‘go to’ of using Rape in YA to do so is something I don’t always agree with. I know I was a little uncomfortable with the descriptions of the Breeding house and I’m in my 30s I’m not sure I would want the younger end of the YA spectrum to read about that. It wasn’t explicit, but it was close enough.In Closing:This is the first book from Sarah B Larson and while it wasn’t one of my favorites the series does have potential. The different types of Sorcery were interesting to me as well as the fate of Antion and the backstory of Alexa’s family line and the power she may hold. I would probably read the next book in this series to see where the story and romance leads. Arc provided by Scholastic Press thru NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

  • Anne
    2019-03-30 13:27

    Also reviewed for Addicted2HeroinesThere's a lot to love about Defy. Tough girl who has to pretend to be a boy, hot prince who has to pretend to be obnoxious, evil sorcerers, misunderstood magic, and a kingdom in peril. It's not what I would consider action-packed, but the story clips along at a good pace.I was initially a little worried by the hint of a love triangle in the blurb, but it turned out to be fairly obvious who she was actually interested in.Yeah, and then there's the other guy.It's not you, it's me.I love you, but I'm not In Love with you.I think of you like a brother...minus all the genetic similarities.I loved the backstory that led Alexa to have to disguise herself as a boy. It was made more plausible by the fact that she had already been trained to fight by her father. The reason her father trained her was also something that made sense. Since she already knew her way around a sword, it eliminated the moments in the story when I would normally roll my eyes at the heroine's ability to step into the role of a bad-ass...without any prior experience. The magical elements didn't come into play until later, and this helped establish why she was able to not only blend in, but become part of an elite force protecting the prince.The author did a great job with Damian's character, as well. I really didn't like him at all. And then suddenly I did.Hello, Mr. Darcy!And at the end of the book, I really couldn't have loved him more. I'm trying really hard not to give spoilers, so let's just say that he is one of those guys who understands that beauty is only skin deep.And speaking of the end?Dear God! I can't believe that the author actually went the route that she did! I'm not talking about a cliffhanger here people, I'm talking about...Nope. Sorry, that would be a spoiler.I will say it was something I haven't seen happen very often in YA.In the interest of total disclosure, I will say that there were a few times I thought Alexa acted a bit out of character for someone who was supposedly so tough. I don't know why, but it rubbed me the wrong way. Still, I'm willing to chalk it up to other people finally knowing her secret, and maybe coming to terms with being able to act like a girl for the first time in years.Even with that minor annoyance, I'd recommend this one for someone looking for a young adult fantasy novel.

  • Eryn☘
    2019-04-09 15:12

    3.5 StarsFor a book filled with cliche's left and right, this actually wasn't too bad. I'm tempted, however, to give this three stars for the sheer fact that nothing in this book had me thinking. I knew who Alexa was going to end up with, I knew what Damian was, I knew Ryland knew Alexa's secret ... and so forth. Pretty much the entire time I knew what was going to happen - and yet, it wasn't even that bad (you're probably like what?). Which is really weird for me to admit. Usually, I don't enjoy books that have little-to-no mystery to them. I guess this one was an exception.What I liked: I really enjoyed Alexa's strength and fearlessness, and how she had her own set of fears. For example, she was terrified of the Jungle because of all the "unknowns" deep within. I thought that was realistic. As a guard she would be uncomfortable with places where she can't see too well. I also liked Damian, even if he was the most cliche character in the entire book. He was handsome, a prince, arrogant but yet kind, had beautiful eyes ... you get the picture. I feel like I've read about him in about ten other books. But it worked in this novel, because Alexa's face is scarred and she gets worried that he wouldn't like her anymore because she wasn't beautiful and he was. Which is why I loved it when he saw her and didn't care. It showed that he had a good personality too, which was decent.What I didn't like: Ryland. His character was annoying. Is that bad of me to say? I felt like the whole romance was forced. I never got the feeling that Ryland liked her. I just knew he knew "Alex" was a girl, but not that he liked her. Another thing I didn't like (piggy-backing off the previous point) was the romance triangle. There was no spark between Ryland and Alexa. Normally, I don't mind multiple romantic interests because I think it's more realistic that only having one person like you. But with this book, I just wasn't feeling it.Overall, this novel kept my interest for whatever reason. I guess I was in the mood for some cliche reading or something like that. 'Cause normally I wouldn't have the patience to read something like this.

  • Jessie(Ageless Pages Reviews)
    2019-04-15 17:36

    And we have my first DNF of 2014.I made it 53% and I either hate everything or it bores me.It utterly fails to make a point with the genderbending aspect, so if you want to read a YA fantasy set in a non-white society in a jungle that does make some good points in a thoughtful exploration of gender -- read Alaya Dawn Johnson's The Summer Prince instead.

  • Cait • A Page with a View
    2019-04-14 15:27

    This is basically the Song of the Lioness quartet meets Throne of Glass! The story had every awesome element: fast worldbuildng, adventure, a solid pace, sorcerers, castles, princes, capable girls, and some basic politics. I really liked the jungle setting, too! I've been getting tired of most YA novels glossing over whatever battle or confrontation that most of the story leads up to, so it was nice to see a book follow through in a way that didn't feel cheap.Alexa's reasons for disguising herself as a boy are pretty good and she's one of the better female MCs I've read recently! There are obviously some weak spots in the plot with how she managed to pass as a boy for all those years AND through most of this story, but I just went with it. The love triangle is between her fellow guard and Prince Dorian Damian, but it's pretty obvious who she's going to pick. (And it was hilarious how both of these guys knew she was a girl the whole time... like how believable was her act in the first place).I know most of my blogger friends weren't huge on this book, but I honestly really enjoyed it. Yes, it's not terribly complex and it's definitely a "younger" YA book. But it was just fun.

  • Thibaut Nicodème
    2019-04-08 18:15

    Full, chapter-by-chapter review on my blog, the Snark Theater.This book manages to combine two flaws that I did not think were compatible: being dreadfully boring, and really offensive.The premise is an obvious Mulan ripoff (and the ending doesn't help me get rid of that idea): Alexa has to pretend to be a boy and join the military. Instead of doing it to save her dad, it's to save herself. Namely, save herself from being sent to a breeding house, which is basically a rape house.This is the first big issue with this book, and one I could not stop going back to. These rape houses are unnecessary. Yes, they make the bad guy more evil, but… they're not treated with enough seriousness to matter. The book makes it sound like killing the wife is as bad, or worse, of a crime as making all orphaned girls serve as whores. Worse, it's an evil that doesn't make sense: breeding soldiers is a very inefficient way to replenish an army. Have the women fight instead. That would make sense.Ultimately, it's just a cheap excuse for the protagonist to pretend to be a man, and I cannot forgive using mass rape as a cheap excuse for anything.But that's just the first of many issues I had with this book. There's blatant misogyny through and through, for a start. Alexa is the best swordfighter that Antion ever had, but when it comes down to it, it's prince Damian who protects her, not the other way around, even though it's her job to protect him. Every single one of her decision has to get a man's approval; in the end, she can't even feel beautiful until one of her love interests tells her she is, no matter the fact that another person—a woman, and a disinterested one at that—told her minutes before.A lot of the worldbuilding is shoddy at best, trying to break classic fantasy tropes by being set in a jungle (which I appreciated) but then relying so heavily on those same tropes that nothing makes sense anymore (a regular castle in a jungle? Who built that?). And a lot of the characters are… not very smart, I will say.And then, there's the love triangle. I'm biased against love triangles in general, but this one takes the cake because Alexa actually chooses one of the love interest in the second act… and then it never matters. The other love interest keeps pursuing her, and at the end, in an obvious setup for a potential sequel, the love triangle is reset to its status quo, will-they-or-won't-they. Since said love triangle took up most of the second act (which made that act absolutely boring), I feel cheated.The only character I was remotely interested in was Damian, and even that was partly motivated in the potential for homoerotic subtext. Of course, that was ruined when it turned out he knew all along Alexa was a girl. By the way, yes: why doesn't Alexa think about Damian possibly being gay when he starts hitting on her "Alex" persona? It's like homosexuality doesn't even exist, as far as the book is concerned. I don't like that.Aside from him, the rest of the main cast is mostly stereotypes, the villains are laughably evil (but not in a funny way), and the protagonist is a total Mary Sue who learns to fight the most evil and powerful sorcerer in two weeks… and then defeats him in five minutes. I am not impressed.Oh, and one last note: everything in this book is utterly predictable.A galley copy was provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Dianne
    2019-04-01 16:13

    If I were looking for a book to recommend to younger YA readers filled with fantasy, action, turmoil and strong characters, I would easily say read Defy by Sara B. Larson! With so many YA fantasy books to choose from, why this particular book, you ask? The characters are what make this story work! Alexa is a teen girl whose life has been turned upside down through tragedy, her only family left is her brother. Together they join the King’s guard, and Alexa hides her gender as Alex, becoming one of the fiercest warriors in the guard. She isn’t the biggest, isn’t the strongest, but she has a special affinity for using her head while against an opponent. She trains hard and deal with what life has given her. Alexa even deals reasonably well with her budding emotions and attraction to two different, yet honorable young men. After “hiding” as a boy, I was impressed with her “feminine side.” Equally impressive were Damian and Rylan, both keeping secrets, both loyal, both unafraid to take a stand.The story moves at a fast pace, filled with turmoil and major obstacles culminating in a true good vs evil battle to the end! Many young adult books are actually geared to the older YA crowd, but Defy doesn’t have the over-the-top angst, or a jagged love triangle filled with repeated pain, mistakes, or regrets. It doesn’t need it. In a fantasy world filled with sorcerers and magic, it’s a great escape and a great hook to encourage reading for fun!I received this ARC edition of Defy from Scholastic Press in exchange for my honest review. Expected Publication Date: January 7, 2014Publisher: Scholastic PressISBN: 9780545597586Genre: YA Fantasy/FictionNumber of Pages: 336Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

  • Jaime (Two Chicks on Books)
    2019-04-16 17:14

    DEFY WAS AWESOME!!!!! Most of you know how much I love my High Fantasy and Sara B. Larson wrote a story that I can say (well at least in my opinion) is up there with my favorites! Yep add her to my list of faves such as Maria V. Snyder, Rae Carson, Leigh Bardugo, Morgan Rhodes, and Ursula K. Le Guinn!What I loved about Defy was Alexa was a kick ass character! She was a girl who had been pretending to be a boy for years! She could even best most of the boys in a sword fight and was chosen as one of the Prince’s guards because of it. Now let me talk about the prince for a bit… Well this may take longer than a bit lol! Damien was arrogant and lazy and for the most part was a pain in the ass but, he was keeping secrets and when you start to find out those you get why he’s been acting like an ass and when I got to really know him I fell HARD for him! He will definitely be making my Top 10 Book boyfriend list!I loved the fantasy world that Sara created! It’s beautiful and harsh and I felt like I could live there (as long as Damien was by my side lol) and I can’t wait for book 2! I’m dying to get my hands on it!I chose an excerpt about Damien…. Well you’ll see why in a moment lolI walked quickly across the room and did as the prince asked. When I turned, he stood by his bed, shirtless, his chest and arms coated with a fine sheen of sweat. His extremely well-muscled chest and arms. His stomach was flat and chiseled. He was as strong as any of the men on his guard, perhaps even more so than most. In the warm light of the candles, Prince Damien was almost painfully handsome. I suddenly felt too hot. Like all the heat in the room had surged into my body, coalescing deep in my belly. Lightning flashed, filling the room with bright white light, making me flinch.“Was there anything else?”My eyes widened when I realized I’d been staring at his body. My cheeks flamed, making me grateful for the low light of the candles. “Sir, you’re covered in sweat. Are you taking ill?” I asked, keeping my voice low and gruff. Manly. It was as good a cover as I could come up with. No one looked like that unless they exercised—a lot.“I’m in perfect health.” He shot me a wicked grin. “As you may have noticed.”My mouth went dry and my face burned even hotter. But before I could think of any other way to dig myself into a deeper hole of humiliation, he continued, “You may go, Alex.”I bowed briefly and strode out of the room, my body on fire with embarrassment—and curiosity. There was definitely more to Prince Damien than I’d realized. But I was beginning to worry that he had realized there was more to me, as well.Want to know what happens next? You’ll just have to read the book to find out!

  • Sara Raasch
    2019-04-03 16:12

    You're about to be VERY jealous of me -- I got to read DEFY back when it was DAUGHTER OF WAR. Fight scenes and a jungle-kingdom and a desert-kingdom and mysteries and assassins and hot boys (mmm, Damian) and a sadistic king. All the makings of a great YA fantasy, and fans of THRONE OF GLASS and SHADOW AND BONE will have no trouble falling under DEFY's spell too.

  • Perrin
    2019-04-19 16:28

    I was very excited to read this book after reading the description, however the book is very disappointing and does not live up to its potential. This book is filled with choppy sentences and writing that lacks any elegance. I found Alexa/Alex to be frustrating and at times offensive. The other characters are flat and unrealistic. This book contains a pathetic and unnecessary love triangle that seems out of place in the story. Although I see what the author was aiming to write, overall her plot was under developed. Over all I am very sad that this book isn't what I hoped it could be and I think it needs a few more years of editing before being published.

  • Shahad takleef
    2019-04-20 11:33

    “True beauty is what lies inside of us, not what the world sees. A beautiful shell that houses a vile soul becomes sullied over time. But an outer shell, imperfect as it may be, that houses a beautiful, shines with that beauty, radiating it for all who have eyes to see.” This is a Dystopian novel about Alexa , a girl who had joined the military with her twin brother disguised as a boy when she was thirteen to avoid some other horrific destiny , Its been ten years since their country had started a war against some other nation and eventually magical elements would be added to the story . I'm having such a hard time writing this review for multiple reasons, first of all is that I've read it a while ago i can't accurately remember what i felt about it , the second though is that I was a bit disappointed to begin with . i read this according to a rec video of underrated books by Naya Perkins , I love this girl , i usually trust her opinions and she really did love it , I thought I will do as much as she did , i didn't though . when I paused Naya's video and went to read the synopsis at Goodreads , I added it to my TBR instantly , even read it only a few days after , the synopsis felt quite promising , who would fail to be reminded of Mulan ? , it was really good except for this "thrilling love triangle" bit at the top of it which made me suspicious but I kind of ignored it .however , it was predictable , the type of dystopian you feel like you've already read before , its familiar because this is the way most dystopian books go , If you've read Throne of Glass or The Study series for example you'd know what to expect here , there wasn't much added. So it didn't stand out and most important of all ,It started with a promise and ended with boredom ., though i really appreciate the end because if Alexa ended up a queen with a lame married happily ever after end the rating would have been much lower .The world building is not that unique , The war between two nations , The evil emperor , The magic and oh yes , The jungle , there's always a jungle for some reason . The characters and relationships did not strike me as something so well developed , The characters were interesting, but I didn't feel invested in them . Alexa for example was admirable , she disguises her self as a boy , manages to be a royal guards , its claimed that she's the best fighter or so , this Gender bending thing would have been totally interesting if she could pull it off , she was awesome until she started admiring everybody's eyes . How she got away with pretending to be a guy for years is beyond me. Although almost everyone knew she was a girl so obviously she was terrible at it .I really did like her at the beginning but it just broke off , the character started flattening .It seems that she doesn't do much mourning in case she has someone's eyes to admire , and I think for " The best fighter" she did much blushing and heart flattering than actually Fighting . I really think the romance took much more space than it should have had , I was totally right to get suspicious at this " thrilling love triangle " in the synopsis , i thought its a high fantasy it wont bother me much , but Oh it did . It turned out there was a whole jungle journey about choosing between brown and blue eyes . I ended up with much eye rolling than I've expected .Then we would be "So very much shocked" to discover that she has magical powers and and she's the last hope the country has to stop the war , she is the only one who can defeat a big evil sorcerer who is apparently capable of burning an entire army of sorcerers into ashes . But not Alexa. Alexa can stop him Because …. well, because she can .another thing that bothered me was " the breeding houses" , I read dark books , I don't feel bad because of its mere idea as long as it serves its purpose . I get what the writer wants to tell , its the fantasy that deals with misogynist societies to proves how wrong it is , but instead it felt much unnecessary , the whole thing lacks the factor of being convincing , and if you're not much convinced it hardly means anything . the whole thing was gratuitous. Lets not harshly judge the book , I mean I've rated Throne of Glass three stars too , but I wasn't acrid on it , It has the very same quality as this book , the writing , the story , the world building and even the annoying love triangle , all the same , if you didn't mind any thing there and you loved it , you'd do love this one , too . Its just that I expected more of this book and anyway expectation Vs reality doesn't always have a pleasing outcome . READ IT HERE .

  • Tricia Mingerink
    2019-04-11 12:14

    Things I really liked: - the setting. Medievalish fantasy set in a jungle? Um, yes, please!- the audiobook narrator. Yes, I listened to this on audiobook, and they picked a really good narrator for it. The narrator has an alto voice, and did a really good job of doing a hard-edged, deeper tone that made me believe Alexa could pull off pretending to be a boy for 3 years. - the way Alexa pretending to be a boy was handled. This book pulls off the difficult balance of having her still feel like a girl, yet convincingly (especially at the beginning and end, not so much in the middle) pretend to be a boy. - the plot. Not everything was like it seemed, and the bad guys aren't always the bad guys and things are a bit more complicated than they appear at first. I really liked that about the book. Things I didn't like: - the love triangle- the love triangle- No, really, the love triangle. - the middle part of the book where the love triangle became the focus and all action stopped for a while. Alexa totally falls apart and loses her cool in this part. Thankfully, she gets it back by the end of the book and reverts back to the awesome heroine she was in the beginning. - every time Alexa calls Damien "beautiful." While I know she's using it in the sense a well-muscled, galloping horse is "beautiful," it still drove me nuts. Once or twice is okay. Every time she sees Damien? Less okay.Overall, I enjoyed the book. It can at times be gritty and action-packed, though the violence and grit isn't over the top and is handled tastefully. There are a few moments with shirtless guys, but nothing goes beyond a little bit of kissing. While the main girl does end up sleeping in a small tent with both of the guys in the love triangle, it is in a tent with BOTH of the love interests, so even the kissing is toned down because the other guy in the love triangle is a rather angry, rather annoyed third wheel trying to get some sleep. While the ending of this book almost could've made it a standalone, the author did seem to set up some stuff, especially character stuff, for the rest of the series. I'm excited to see where the author takes the characters and the plot.

  • Kara
    2019-04-04 11:28

    Defy, defy, defy. Even after I’ve finished it I’m still uncertain about how I feel about it. Did I like it? Yes. Did I think it was the amazing, beautiful and incredible read I thought it was going to be? Unfortunately, no. I know I will read the sequel, Ignite — and maybe I’ll enjoy it more now as I will know what to expect from it.Defy was described as a lush read with a tough, kickass heroine.But was it, really?No . . . I didn’t think so; and actually, the worldbuilding and characters was where this novel fell flat, as well as the romance. Well, romances.Here, though, was the best thing about the novel: it was so quick and easy to read. I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump — but once I got into the story it literally took me only a few hours to devour the novel. The writing style is simple, yes, but so, so easy to read. That, I thought, was where the novel excelled in creating a page-turner, because it is so easily written.I truly understand where the author was trying to go with the novel, and as a fellow fantasy-writer I can appreciate it, but I felt like she missed the mark in many areas of the novel that could’ve been fantastic. Take, for example, our main character — Alexa. Or, Alex, as she’s known from the rest of her guard. In the typical sense of the word, she was “badass” and “tough” but I don’t believe that was enough to sell her character to me as a reader. She was a little . . . and I hate to say this . . . but boring. The only thing I really knew about her was that she was a good fighter. That was it. When you create a badass character, I feel as though the author needs to make her flawed in a way that makes her loveable and realistic at the same time.Speaking of characters, a lot of them die. Which is a common thread when it come to fantasy, right? And that’s fine; it highlights a brutal world. But when it comes to death in fantasy, you want the reader to feel it, not just witness it. And I felt for a novel that was written in first person — which is usually much more emotive than third — I didn’t feel much. Even characters that were close to our protagonist, I felt oddly disconnected to the whole thing.Love triangles. They can either be good — or bad. I wish, I truly wish from the bottom of my heart, wish that I could say I loved it. So in Defy our two main love interests are Rylan — one of the boys in Alexa’s guard — and Prince Damian. Not sure I really cared for either one of them. The thing that bothers me so much about love triangles is always the main character’s attitude toward them — she’s always bouncing between the two, with conflicting monologue that is tiresome to read. And, I thought that the story was too focused on the romance. If the author had pulled back on it a little I think she would have had more of a chance to expand on the world she had created — which I speak about in the next paragraph.Next issue I had with Defy was the worldbuilding. Or — more like it — the lack of worldbuilding. Here’s the total of what I knew of Defy’s worldbuilding: there were jungles. And a monarchy system. Jungles are cool, don’t get me wrong . . . but what else? A vague mention of “God”. WHAT GOD? This is high-fantasy, a whole new world, and I can’t just assume things about a religion that’s not even there. There was also a distinct lack of history in the world; bits and pieces of it scattered here and there, most of which was cobbled together in a confusing manner, and I didn’t really get it. Something about sorcerers? And evil people? When the worldbuilding is stretched as thin as it was in Defy it’s hard for me to look past it in a positive way. You can’t be fully involved in a world you don’t even understand. Yes, I realize this is a series, but even so, this story almost lost me at its poorly developed world.So, all in all, not a great high-fantasy.Enjoyable in some regards, but also underdeveloped.