Friday, December 13, 2013

Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson


Defy by Sara B. Larson
Book One of the Defy series
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and heart-racing romance.

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

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

What I Liked:

When I opened this book, I experienced some intense feelings of dread, to be completely honest. You know when you've been waiting to read a book for so long, and when you finally get your hands on it, you're like, oh no, I hope it's amazing! Like, my expectations for this book were so so so high, and when I finally got an ARC, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it, because I didn't want to be disappointed!

Does that make sense? I hope it does. Well, anyway, clearly I was NOT disappointed - thank goodness! I really enjoyed this book, and I'm glad I didn't panic or chicken out or anything. I was so afraid that I would not like this book for some reason or the other - after waiting so long and being so excited for so long, doubt can do that to a person. 

Fantasy is my favorite genre, and Larson does this genre justice. Alexa is pretending to be "Alex" a male teenager and fighter, personal guard to the prince. Things aren't going horribly for Alex - everyone is convinced that she is a male, and she is a really, really good swordsman. But all of that changes when whispers of sorcerers start to go around, and the war becomes reality.

Suddenly, Alexa finds herself captured, along with Rylan (her best guard friend), and Damien (the prince). But both Rylan and the prince have kept things from her - the prince especially. The prince is not the aloof, arrogant man he seems to be, and both he and Rylan know more than they let on. The prince has everyone caught in his web, to take down his father, the king.

Most fantasy novels involve a war, a tyrant, a handsome prince, and so on, so I expected all of that. What made this novel unique is many things - all of the betrayal, Alexa's real being, the rawness of the writing style... let me tell you, the writing style is AMAZING. I don't know how to describe how I feel about it, but Larson has a way with words, literally. Like, there are some scenes that you can just FEEL the pain, sorrow, agony, indecision, and so on. That really resonated with me in this particular book, more so than most books. 

I liked Alexa! I think she is a great heroine. She's brave, determined, intelligent - and yet she is still scared, unsure, and flawed. She is perfectly imperfect, and I like this about her. I feel like she and I would get along well - or at least, I can hope!

The love triangle... yes, you read that correctly. I HATE love triangles - I'll be the first one to tell you that I'm NOT reading a book or series if it has a really intense love triangle in it. This book does have a love triangle, but I really, really like how it comes about. You KNOW who the two males are, but it seems like the love triangle is a natural part of the story. It just fits really nicely in there.

And what I really liked about the romance? It really was NOT at the forefront of the story. Like, there weren't situations in the book - or the climax, for that matter - in which decisions were based on emotions or feelings for the other. I just like how the romance was not the driving plot of the story - the war/deception/assassination plot was the main plot. And did I mention magic and evil sorcerers and secret sorcerers and crazy murders? No? Well, you 'll just have to read the book...

Overall, I was quite pleased with how much I enjoyed this book. No need to be scared, I tell you. I'm so happy I had the chance to read Defy - thank you, Scholastic!

What I Did Not Like:

There were some little things that bothered me. For one, the language. In most fantasy novels - medieval fantasy, if you don't mind - the language is kind of "old", or medieval. I'm not saying that the characters should be speaking with "thee", "thou", etc., but in this novel, I feel like there are a lot of modern-day speak. Too many phrases jumped out at me as modern - and therefore, anachronistic. 

Oh, and I'm not a fan of Rylan. It has nothing to do with the romance. I just think he's kind of child.

But that's it.

Would I Recommend It:

HIGHLY! Meaning - I highly recommend this novel! You like fantasy? Definitely read it. Not a fan of fantasy? Read it anyway. I have a feeling that all kind of readers will enjoy this book - readers who like any genre. And don't be discouraged by the mention of a love triangle! I hate love triangles, but this one seemed very natural. Just read the book, okay?

Rating:

4 stars. This fantasy novel definitely does not disappoint! Don't miss it for anything!


Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

64 comments:

  1. Oh good! Glad its full of awesomeness. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. YES! Definitely take a look at this one when you can, Sophia :)

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  2. Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed this one as well. Lily will be pleased ;)

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  3. I enjoyed Defy too. I wasn't fond of Rylan either! There really wasn't much endearing about him to be honest. So happy you weren't let down. I'm eager to see what happens in the next book.

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    1. YAY! And yeah, I really couldn't connect with him. I hope you and I both enjoy book two, Kristen!

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  4. Awesome review Alyssa and Yay I am happy you enjoyed this book it looks and sounds amazing I really haven't read a lot of fantasy books lately but I do love them have to check this one out for sure thanks for sharing Alyssa!

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    1. It's definitely a keeper, Katiria! Be sure to read this one, because I have a feeling it's going to be a popular book!

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  5. Ah everyone`s releasing their advance reviews for this right now and I`ve really only heard good things! I think it`s still read now on Netgalley, so tempted! Ooh, actually loving the Love Triangle! That`s a big deal! Love triangles are usually the bane of my existence ...along with insta-love haha Awesome review!

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    1. YES! It's about that time lol. If it's still on NetGalley, then go for it! I usually hate love triangles, and I definitely hate insta-love. But there is no insta-love (not really), just a love triangle. Hopefully, you read and enjoy this book!

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  6. Ahh. I'm worried about this book, so I don't think I will enjoy it. As I can't stand love triangles, no matter what :\ Sigh. But I'm glad you managed to enjoy it :D Yay! Awesome review. <3

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  7. Aw man Alyssa we are on opposite views of this book. I felt that the romance took over the entire book almost....like at least 85% of it and that the triangle was forced. I was really let down by the book because I was so excited for it. I didn't hate it or anything, 3 stars. I loved Damian, I actually think I might had enjoyed it more if it had been from his POV. But I do know a TON of people that love it. Great review and glad that you enjoyed it though!

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    1. LOL well, to each their own. I can see what you mean about "forced", sort of. I felt like one part of the love triangle was TOTALLY forced. But not Damian's side.

      Thank you!

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  8. I read this book and finished it within two little days! The thing that I didn't liked was that we obviously knew who was the winner concerning the love triangle since Rylan was almost nonexistent! I wrote a review on it on my blog!

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    1. It just went by, didn't it?! I loved that aspect. And that's true - it seemed obvious that the heroine was all about Damian. Which I have no problem with! I'll come look at yours :D

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  9. Nice review! I enjoy love triangles when they are done right. I do not like those that start us off really loving the first guy and then out of the blue there is this other guy and now she is torn. Those drive me crazy. Have it be a best friend that we love from the beginning and then introduce a new love or something along those lines. I am def going to have to add this to my TBR pile!

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    1. I'm glad you like love triangles - because this is the book for you then! It's a typical love triangle, with a new guy, and a best friend. Not my thing, but it worked in an interesting way. I hope you like this one if/when you read it, Heather!

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  10. I have to read this book. I have it on m TBR and after reading what you think about the book, I'll definitely start it tomorrow :)

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    1. Excellent! I hope you love it, Patricia. It's a pretty good one!

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  11. I love fantasy. I like Alexa's character portraying a boy (perhaps because I was such a tomboy). Unlike you, I find love triangles interesting. It does sound exciting.

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    1. LOL, well, you relate to her then! That's good. It's a good read - I hope you enjoy it if/when you read it!

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  12. already put on my TBR list...i like the synopsys but i am not a fan of the book's cover...

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    1. Woot! Good to hear! The cover is great, in my opinion - it's just a symbol, no people or girls with swirling dresses. But to each their own!

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  13. I've been wanting to read this book, but was kind of hesitant. I get really tired of the "girl goes in to fight war then finds her true love" story. I'm very relieved this isn't that kind of story. It's refreshing to hear that a story actually exists that can put the romance as secondary and the more serious problems primary. I enjoyed your review. You explained the pros and cons without spoilers.

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    1. I totally understand what you are saying, Michelle - if you're not a fan of that trope, then this one *might not* be the one for you. The romance does feel secondary to me, although I've heard from other bloggers and reviewers that they think the romance dominated the novel.

      Thank you, Michelle! That's a nice compliment :)

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  14. I enjoy fantasy novels if they are done well and this one sounds like it fits the bill! I hate love triangles too but I'm glad to hear this one is tolerable.

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    1. Me too! I think the fantasy in this novel is kickbutt, and I hope the love triangle veers off in the right direction in the next book(s).

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  15. I love fantasy and I love it even more when it has a kick butt female lead. Since I found out about this book, which was a few weeks ago, I've been wanting to read it too. One of my favorite series is The Lioness Quartet and Defy has been compared to it so needless to say my expectations for this book is HIGH! So I understand your feelings about not wanting to read it too because I don't want to be let down.

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    1. I hope you get to read it soon! Fantasy is seriously the best. I hope you won't be let down by this one!

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  16. I will admit that the cover is a bit off-putting, but once I got past that and read the synopsis I was intrigued. I wasn't off my rocker excited for it, but I was definitely curious. Now that I have read several reviews, and now yours, I might be getting a little bit of that off of my rocker excitement after all. I think I will try harder to get my hands on a copy of this one now!

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    1. Huh. I keep hearing more and more people say that they don't like the cover o.O Interesting. I hope you do get a copy, Jaime!

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  17. It's one of the ya book I am looking forward to read! By your review, it seems that I am more eager to that book! Haha! :)

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    1. Excellent! That's sounds good! I hope you read and love it.

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  18. I just added Defy to my list of books I want to read in 2014. I'm not a fan of fantasy usually but taking your word for it!
    Dede

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    1. Cool! Glad you did. Hopefully, you'll love it, despite not being a fantasy fan!

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  19. I wavered between a 3 and 4 on this one. I liked it well enough but the characters needed to be more fleshed out for me.

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    1. Nothing wrong with that! I suppose I agree in a sense - they needed a little more depth. Glad you enjoyed it though!

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  20. I get what you mean when you said you don't want to ruin a book because of high expectations. It's kind of unavoidable especially if it has a lot of buzz. I'm glad you liked Defy in the end. It's one of my most anticipated this year and I can't wait to start it. I love fantasy books so hopefully I'd love this too. It sounds really good :)

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    1. And this one had a ton of buzz, (un)fortunately. But it worked out for me! I'm so glad that you're excited to read this one! I hope you get to read it soon, Haraiah!

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  21. I wasn't going to pick up Defy at first, not after I read that it was very predictable and there was a love triangle and in the book and that is a big no-no for me. But I've read some reviews, including yours that make me really want to try it out. And I'm glad that the writing style is great. That helps a lot. great review.

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    1. Hmm, I suppose it could be seen as a bit predictable. And the love triangle does seem to be turning off many people. But I really want to know how this triangle turns out - I have a very strong idea as to how it will. I hope you give this one a chance, Ashfa!

      Thank you!

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  22. I feel like a total dork. I've been passing over this book because of the cover and never bothered to read the blurb. I read the blurb today and realized that I could love this book. Seriously.

    Although I don't mind love triangles I kind of like the idea that it isn't the driving force in the book. I love my romance, but in a book like this, it'd ruin the dynamics of the story. Is this book part of a series? I'm off to look it up!

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    1. Hmm, wow, the cover is really not that appealing to people! And aww, well, I hope you read it though, Chanpreet. It's a great debut novel, and it's book one of a duology (currently. it's a duo, but the author might look to get contracted for more, depending on how book one does).

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    2. I'm definitely going to read it. I don't mind it being a duology or even longer especially if I love it. Doesn't it bother you when you love a series but the publishers are like, "You didn't make us enough money so we're not going to publish the rest of the series?" It's hard to believe that they'd be that mean, but it happens!

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    3. I actually am a fan of duologies - probably because I'm a bit sick of trilogies. I wish publishers would give contracts for however long the authors feel the series would be - it's more about the story than the money! Or at least, that's how it should be :(

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  23. Don't particularly like love triangles either but the blurb had me adding this to my wishlist anyway.

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    1. Excellent! Good to hear! I hope you like it, Lisa.

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  24. I gave Defy 3.5 stars, but I agree with quite a few of the points that you made. I didn't really like Rylan either, but the speech not being old fashioned didn't bother me. Excellent review!

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    1. That is still an excellent rating! And yeah, no thanks, Rylan. Glad you enjoyed it! Thank you, Rachel.

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  25. Glad you liked this one--I've heard a lot of conflicting things about it but it sounds good to me, so I'm glad to see a positive review for it :)
    And I totally get what you mean about dreading reading the book--I do it all the time with sequels to books I really loved because I'm so worried they won't live up to my lofty expectations! Haha

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    1. There have been quite a few negative reviews! But I liked it. I was dreading this one (because I didn't want to be disappointed), but I should have read it sooner! Sometimes, expectations are killer.

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  26. I actually like the cover. I find that it fits in with fantasy very well. Also, it works well with Alexa pretending to be a boy.I am definitely intrigued by Larson's writing style. It sounds like an awesome new fantasy story. (series)

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    1. YAY, someone else who likes it! Awesome! I'm glad that you are curious about this one, Ashleigh. I hope you read and enjoy it!

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  27. First off this is one of those books that I have been highly anticipating to read this year. Its been getting some mixed reviews but I am glad you liked it. Also after reading your review I am perfectly sure that I will be liking it as well since I am a huge fan of Fantasy genre. And no negative reviews are gonna discourage me from reading this book. I just hope to get my hands on this book sooner rather than later.

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    1. I HAVE seen a lot of the mixed reviews! At first I was like o.O but I sort of get it. To each their own! I hope that you do end up really liking this one! Go go go!

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  28. I've been wanting to read this book and now after your review I think I need to go check it out and read it.

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    1. Excellent! Hope you do read it, Samantha!

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  29. You sound like you loved it, so why only 4 stars? The language?

    A love triangle that isn't horrible? Wow. I tend to like when decisions are based on feelings, to be honest. I think people discount how much history has been shaped by emotion. But I get what you mean - that the plot should advance because of more interesting things than just romantic angst, etc.

    Very helpful review. Thanks :)

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    1. Some books just aren't *amazing* enough for 5 stars, you know? That's how I *felt* about the book. And that's a good point - about history and emotion. I didn't think of it that way :)

      Thank YOU!

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