Review: Defy

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?

I had such a mix of emotions reading this book – in a good way! I have always adored fantasy, but have undeniably fallen away from the genre.  Nevertheless,I devoured this trilogy in a matter of weeks, which was honestly a huge surprise to me.

I recently read Larson’s new novel, Dark Breaks the Dawn, which I also had mixed feelings on. I loved it, as I also loved Defy, but I did feel like it was written for a younger audience than me, which is fine.The romance and some of the plot points felt a bit simple, in an almost immature way. Now, I don’t think this is a bad thing, especially because one of the reasons I liked this novel is because the heroine is immature.

Here we have Alexa, a young girl pretending to be a boy. She may or may not have some sort of savior plot in her future, but I think a lot of the focus was on her development as a character. I think Alexa was one of the most realistically written fantasy heroines I have every encountered – especially from a YA standpoint.

Alexa is a tad self-absorbed, undeniably boy crazy, and a bit bratty – she’s a kid. The readers are given a very accurate example of how a teenage girl would react to being given the entire weight of the world, which they’re still trying to figure out their own hormones.

So, whilst this novel isn’t the Mulan type “girl soldier” story, I did really adore it. While there was strong world building, and strong characters, there was also a very realistic tie to the whole novel. It felt very much like it could be happening to the teenage version of me, in a way. It made the reader relate to the character, versus the typical “chosen one” plot line.

Overall, I did really enjoy this novel, and the sequels. I would probably recommend this to younger teens, but be warned, there is some romance, tho nothing explicit. I feel very late to the game on this one, but I am very glad I checked it out.

I give Defy 4 out of 5.

Maddie

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