Defy [NOOK Book]

Overview

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 ...
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Defy

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Overview

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?
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
02/01/2014
Gr 8 Up—In Alexa's world, young men are soldiers and young women are the means to breed new ones. There is no alternative. So when Alexa's parents are killed and their home destroyed by a sorcerer, Alexa cuts her hair and enrolls in the army to save herself from the breeding house. Trained by their father and polished by the army, "Alex" and her twin, Marcel, earn places in the prince's guard as the best swordsmen in the kingdom. But the palace is full of secrets and as the story continues to build in suspense, it's clear that Prince Damian has more than most. Alex is a bold heroine whose priorities are protecting her prince and her people, but the lines between good and evil blur as she gleans more truth about the royal family she serves. Her destiny is revealed when her own power comes to fruition, a power that could end the greatest corruption of all. Larson's debut is full of passion and adventure, urging readers to cheer and weep simultaneously at Alexa's astounding courage. Those interested in strong female characters, such as Katniss from Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games, will find new affinity in Defy.—Jamie-Lee Schombs, Loyola School, New York City
Publishers Weekly
12/16/2013
In debut novelist's Larson's riveting fantasy, the tropical nation of Antion is at war, and 17-year-old Alexa has disguised herself as a boy in Prince Damian's royal guard to avoid the nightmarish "breeding houses" that await her as a girl. When a visiting sorcerer kidnaps the prince in hopes of ending the war, Alexa becomes collateral damage. Learning of the dangerous hypocrisy of the nation's leaders, Alexa relies on her extraordinary fighting abilities to protect both the country and the prince she is beginning to love. An additional romantic entanglement contributes little, but Alexa is nothing if not resourceful. As a fighter surviving in a brutal world in which magic plays a sinister role, she relies on her own skills, perceptions, and determination to battle her way to the book's cinematic finale. Alexa's desire to reclaim her gender identity under her own terms ("I still wished things could be different. I wished I could be a member of the guard and a girl") gives the story much of its emotional sincerity and psychological depth. Ages 12–up. Agent: Josh Adams, Adams Literary. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

Praise for DEFY

A Winter Indie Next List Selection
"A wonderful tale of adventure, romance, and embracing your true self. Alexa is a heroine readers will love to follow!" --Marie Lu, bestselling author of the LEGEND series
"DEFY by Sara Larson is an amazing, fantastic book. It has everything you'd want: intrigue, awesomely real characters, suspense, and a captivating plot. All in a world that comes to life in your mind. Highly recommended." --James Dashner, bestselling author of THE MAZE RUNNER
"Grand adventure, romance, and thrilling political intrigue." --BOOKLIST
"Powerful and narratively satisfying." --BULLETIN OF THE CENTER FOR CHILDREN'S BOOKS
"[A] riveting fantasy." --PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

Children's Literature - Natalie Gurr
Alex realized that to survive, she would have to disguise herself. For years, she has been masquerading as a boy on Prince Damian's elite guard. Royal conspiracies and intrigue are all part of the job, and Alex cannot relax for one second. If her true identity is uncovered, nothing can save her from punishment. Then the unthinkable happens: Alex, fellow guard Rylan, and Prince Damian are kidnapped. It becomes impossible to hide the truth, and Alex learns she is not the only one that has been keeping secrets. Set in a medieval world full of danger, magic and romance, Larson's exciting tale will appeal to fans of high fantasy. The plot is fast-paced and the story full of unexpected twists and turns. While there are deeper themes that run through the novel, they are rarely explored, which could lead some readers to consider the writing shallow. In typical series-book style, the novel ends with a cliffhanger that will leave readers craving for more. Book #1 of this trilogy. Reviewer: Natalie Gurr
VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Erin Wyatt
Alexa has posed as a boy for the last three years allowing her to serve in the royal guard where she is the best fighter in the elite group which serves and protects the crown prince. Alexa and her twin brother disguised her as Alex in order to give her a chance to escape the breeding houses where young girls are taken and forced to make more soldiers for the army. The kingdom is at war, led by a cruel, ruthless king who uses his people to further his ambitions. The ruse of Alex as a boy must be the worst secret in the kingdom, as both her closest friend, Rylan, and prince Damien have fallen madly in love with Alexa. Although she is a bit torn, there seems to be no contest for her heart. The prince has plans of his own to end the war, using a staged kidnapping as a way to shake up the status quo and power structure. The heroes of the story find themselves part of an elaborate plot to end the war. While Alexa has believed her understanding of reality to be truth, she is repeatedly shocked when secrets are revealed showing her that the life and mind of the prince and the politics of the palace are more complicated than she imagined. Her competence as a fighter and quick thinking are valued by those around her, regardless of her gender. This action-packed fantasy holds much page-turning appeal. Reviewer: Erin Wyatt; Ages 12 to 18.
Kirkus Reviews
2013-11-02
Disguises, love triangles and magical battles are classic tropes in fantasy for teens, but this debut fails to lift them beyond the tiresome. Alex, the youngest and deadliest warrior in Prince Damian's guard, has a secret: "He" is actually Alexa, hiding her sex to avoid the horrific "breeding houses" that supply fodder for Antion's endless war. Damian also has a secret: He isn't really a selfish brat, and he enlists Alexa in a dangerous game of intrigue, deception and betrayal. While she bemoans that pretending to be a boy has become second nature, Alexa's behavior is stereotypically--unpleasantly--"girly": throwing tantrums, crying, pouting, cowering, obsessing over her romantic prospects and (despite her vaunted fighting prowess) constantly needing rescue by men, all of whom see through her masquerade. The secondary characters are mere plot puppets; the villains are ludicrously evil-for-evil's-sake, and the heroes exist only to be desperately in love with Alexa, if never articulating any reason for their devotion. The worldbuilding is equally sketchy; while the dank fecundity of tropical Antion is sensuously conveyed, the narrative timeline is confusing, the magical system arbitrary and the political structure nonsensical. Several subplots go nowhere. It takes more than good guys and bad guys to create an epic adventure; more than heated smooches to portray a resonant romance; and more than acting badass with a sword to be a strong female protagonist. (Fantasy. 12-18)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545597630
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/7/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 13,099
  • Age range: 12 years
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author


Sara B. Larson can't remember a time when she did not write books. Although she now uses a computer instead of a Little Mermaid notebook. Sara lives in Utah with her husband and their three children. She writes during naptime and the quiet hours when most people are sleeping. Her husband claims she should have a degree in "the art of multitasking." On occasion you will find her hiding in a bubble bath with a book and some Swedish Fish.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 77 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(43)

4 Star

(21)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 77 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2013

    I'm a huge fantasy fan so when I saw this book on Netgalley I ju

    I'm a huge fantasy fan so when I saw this book on Netgalley I jumped at the chance to get it. I mean it has a girl disguised as a boy who is an expert swordsman! And there's magic! Unfortunately while I liked it I didn't love it as I had expected. 




    I liked:




    The Romance: Although it's hinted to having a love triangle there really isn't one. Alexa knows who she wants. While in the beginning she feels a little attraction to Rylan it's really Damian she loves. I loved that she wasn't wishy-washy about it because that would have gotten old fast. The chemistry between Damian and Alexa is really great and I loved reading their scenes together. 
    Alexa: I found it cool that she was so great at fighting and undefeatable. That isn't something we see in female characters alot. Although I would have liked more character development. I still enjoyed her character. 
    The Magic: Although there isn't that much magic in the book, I still enjoyed reading about it. I love books with magic in them so reading about the sorcerers in this book was pretty neat. 




    I Wish The Book Had More Of:




    World Building: Right off the bat we're thrust into Alexa's problem of keeping her true identity a secret but we aren't told much about the world she lives in. I know there's a war going on and sorcerers are considered evil but that's about it. I would have liked more worldbuilding to help me envision the story. 
    Character Development: I kind of felt like I started the book in the middle of it. Seeing as this was the first book in the series I felt like there should of been more pages filled with character backstories and their relationships. For instance Alexa has a twin, Marcel who meets a tragic death but I wasn't all that attached to Marcel because he was in the book so briefly. I think some more scenes with them together would have helped. Also, Rylan the second love interest fell a little flat for me. Again if there would have been more scenes of he and Alexa maybe I would have liked the love triangle more. 
    Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was a good debut and had great romance. I'm not sure if I'll read the next book in the series but nonetheless I liked this first book. By far my favorite aspect was the romance in this book. Other than that I'd say this book was lacking some things. I just felt like the balance between romance and fantasy was off. Although I liked the romance some more fantasy elements would have made the book better. 

    11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    ***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Defy by Sara

    ***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***




    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!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Absolutely amazing! Defy was a brilliant YA fantasy. It was thri

    Absolutely amazing! Defy was a brilliant YA fantasy. It was thrilling, romantic, and full of surprises and secrets. And, I loved every bit of it! It was absolute perfection and I can't wait to see what's coming next.

    The world building and the setting were brilliantly done. Throughout the book, I felt as if I was in that vivid, gorgeous setting, whether it was in the splendor of the king's castle, or in the middle of the jungle. I really loved that aspect of this book.

    Alexa was a very strong heroine. She survived through a very traumatic loss of her parents and made herself into a truly formidable opponent. She was very loyal to those she cared about and what she believed in. My only issue with her is a decision she made at the end that made me want to scream, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she will rethink that decision in the next book. As a character, I thought she was wonderful. I really liked her.

    Prince Damien was amazing. At first, he seemed shallow and petty and not very likable. But, as the book went on, he revealed who he truly was and explained why he acted the way he did. It wasn't long before I totally adored him. He was strong and sweet and very devoted to his people. He was very clever and definitely a worthy ruler. In regards to this love triangle, I'm totally for him. He was just completely perfect.

    Rylan was love interest #2 and I really liked him as well. He was very sweet and loyal to Alexa. He was absolutely wonderful as well and I hope he gets a happy ending as well.

    The romance was very sweet. Who was it with? I won't say. But, I will say that I thought he and Alexa were so sweet together and I hope they find a way to be together. The potential for the other guy was there, but it was pretty clear where Alexa's heart lay during this book. Honestly, I adored both guys and I want both of them to be happy. But, we'll see how it goes.

    The plot was fast paced and I was hooked the entire way through. I was worried that the story would devolve into a petty love triangle once Alexa's gender was revealed, but it turned out that I didn't have to worry. The fight for the kingdom, the secrets that hid the truth, the action and thrills and surprises all had me on the edge of my seat. Rather than being front and center, the romance was woven in between the action to add a little more interest to the story and I thought that was very well done. I really enjoyed the story and the ending tied a few loose ends, while leaving a few open for the next book. I can't wait to get my hands on book 2. I need to find out what happens next!

    Defy was a brilliant, fantastic, absolutely magnificent YA fantasy. It had action, thrills, secrets, romance and it was all wonderful. I loved every bit of it! Lovers of YA romance, you HAVE to read this book!

    *I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2014

    *****This review also appear on amoustachebookshelf.blogspot.ca*

    *****This review also appear on amoustachebookshelf.blogspot.ca*****

    Let's all take a moment and appreciate this piece of choco...I mean masterpiece. In Defy, Alexa, the main protagonist, and her twin brother Marcel are witnesses of their parents' death. Knowing that every female orphan has to be taken to the breeding house, Marcel decides to cut his sister's hair off and convince her to pretend to be his twin brother. That way, they both  enter the royal army. Year after year, Alexa, who is now Alex, trains and become the best swordsman of the kingdom.

    Let's be straight, in three words: A-MA-ZING! I read this book in two days (I would have finished it in one if I hadn't so many things to do) and I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!! The characters, the plot, everything! I laughed, I cried, I got angry and happy. It's well written and the author encompasses really well the characters' feelings. Also, themes were well exploited.

    This book reminds me of Mulan, sort of: a strong and independent girl who disguises herself into a boy and enter the army. However, the story is unique, the characters lovable and there is this little thing that makes you want more. I heard a lot of different opinions about Defy and I hesitate at first, but, thanks God, I gave it a try. So far, it is the best decision of my life. 

    There are some little things that I disliked at some moments. One of them was the romance. Sometimes, I was just annoyed that the protagonist kept on 'fantasizing' about the prince when it was clearly NOT the moment to do so! The second thing was the world. Let me explain myself. During my reading, I had to imagine what their world or land looked like most of the time. It's not a problem for me considering that I prefer having my own unique little world but still There was no real descriptions for it. And last thing that I slightly disliked was that you don't know much about the other characters except for the evil king, the handsome prince and the strong girl. I mean I got really attached to Rylan.  However all those three things didn't made me liking less (does it make sense?) this high fantasy novel.

    It was an epic read and Sara's writing was amazing. If you are a fan of Glass of Thrones, Mulan and all those kind of books or movies, and you haven't read this awesome book yet, I highly recommend you to get yourself a copy!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 30, 2013

    If you're a fan of Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass series and/or

    If you're a fan of Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass series and/or Mulan, then you will definitely enjoy this novel. There are many similarities to both--magic, a sexy prince, an evil empire, the best fighter in all the land is female (unbeknownst to many), and I'm sure the list goes on. Some may say there are too many similarities, and yes, it crossed my mind as I was reading, however, it is vastly different as well, and I just love the idea behind it. It's very well written; you can't help but fall in love with the characters and their plight, and the story itself is intriguing. So, even if you're a little worried that it will be too similar to Sarah J. Maas, I suggest you read it anyway, because it's epic.

    Alexa, or Alex, as it were, is my favorite. She’s a strong female lead stuck perpetrating a male in an empire that would otherwise cast her to the breeding house. Forced to hide her identity in order to survive, she has become the top fighter on the prince’s guard. Those loath to protect the empire that took everything from her, her fierce loyalty to her twin brother and those she’s friended on the guard make her a fierce defender of the crown, if nothing more than to protect her friends and family in protecting the prince.

    As the story unfolds, we learn much about Alexa and her life in the guard, but the novel really takes off when the resistance comes to capture the prince. Captured and taken far from their country, it quickly becomes seen that not all is what it seems, and Alexa is not the only one with a secret.

    There is a bit of a love triangle in this novel, but this one is not overbearing, for which I was very thankful. While I was afraid it would take over the novel, it’s more on the sidelines as Alexa, Ryland, and Damien attempt to figure out how much they can trust one another and those who have kidnapped them. Truthfully, I thought the characterization was superb, and the story itself was action packed, keeping me glued to the pages. There were many fight sequences that helped spur the reader on, but just enough romance to also keep it interesting. I really enjoy this novel, and can’t wait for the sequel.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 11, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    this book was amazing. At first i thought that Alex the perfect

    this book was amazing. At first i thought that Alex the perfect girl, or should I say "boy" everyone wanted her to be but after her twins death the author revealed that their was more to this all perfect character.... I loved the triangle, but I wished the author would have given Rylan more of a chance. it was like her choice was made about the two guys before the book even started. I also got very emotional at times, when people I liked were killed off. most of all I loved the fact that you learned new mysterious secrets about Damian every turn of the page, it was fun waiting to learn something new about him. I was often surprised. I wish there was a second book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I LOVED Defy!! Author Sara B. Larson does an incredible job of

    I LOVED Defy!!

    Author Sara B. Larson does an incredible job of creating a fantasy story with all the elements that I love – mystery, action, swoon worthy characters, and the battle between good vs evil.  This fantasy story reminded me of The Game of Thrones, which I am a HUGE fan of!!  

    Alex/Alexa is forced to pretend to be a boy in the Prince’s guard.  Even though she has to maintain a strong and masculine mask to everyone, the author allowed us to see the softer side. As a guard she was loyal to her Prince but internally struggles with her disapproval of the King’s treatment of the people. Alex is a strong female character which I always love seeing in a young adult novel.  She’s been pretending to be a boy for so many years, Alex is now dealing with her teenage hormones and realizes her attraction to the men in her life, Prince Damian and fellow guard Rylan.   But we discover that they also have some secrets, that are just as shocking as Alex’s secret.  A love triangle develops and I can’t decide who I like best for Alex.  Both men are handsome and caring, and I couldn’t help but also cheer for both of them. 

    I thought the writing was flawless and this is an impressive debut. My only complaint is that I wished the synopsis did not reveal so much of the story.  As I started reading Defy I couldn’t help but wonder when the trio will finally be held captive – so the synopsis did spoil the story for me.  But I still LOVED this book and I can’t wait to read the next book!!  I highly recommend this book to all fantasy fans!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Defy surprised me. I had mixed expectations of it, but it turned

    Defy surprised me. I had mixed expectations of it, but it turned out to be really good! I saw more good in it than bad, and I wouldn't mind reading the next book in the series.

    SECRETS, LIES, DISGUISES, OH MY

    Everybody seems to have a secret in this book. Nothing is as it seems—everything from a tapestry to a whole kingdom. There are hidden identities and surprising relations and secret plans throughout the entire book. Deception is key. It's one of the biggest elements of the story, and it kept things pretty interesting. I found it fun to uncover secret after secret kept by the characters. Most of them surprised me.

    THE HEROINE

    Alex (or Alexa) was an awesome heroine! She was strong from the very start, but I thought she became even stronger by the end of the book. I really liked her personality—headstrong and loyal—as well as her journey to finally accepting her true identity. I thought many of the things she went through and many of the new feelings she was feeling (i.e. the romantic ones) were necessary for her development and changes throughout the book.

    THE ROMANCE

    I know some of you may be worried about the romance in this book. You may have heard it's an insta-love, but I didn't think the romance was that insta-love-y. The romance just worked for me. It didn't wow me, but I did really like Alex and Damien together. I saw their chemistry from early on and starting rooting for them, and when they finally starting acting on their feelings, it didn't feel off or too quick for me.

    As for the triangle . . . to me, it wasn't a huge one (I'm not very good at sensing when they're really big parts of the story, though). Sure, there are two guys with feelings for the main character, but I only saw Alex have a true romantic connection with one of them. I will warn you, though: the romance seems to be the biggest issue other readers have with this book. I liked it, but I may be in the minority.

    THE WORLD

    I saw hardly world building happening. It would've been really nice to learn more about the world/setting the characters were in, and I especially would've liked to see more background on the war going on. I didn't know much about it.

    OVERALL

    Defy is a great book. My only big complaint is about the world building, but other than that, everything about the book worked for me! I really liked the characters and the secrets they held. I really liked the message I caught about accepting our true identities under all the false fronts we put on to make others believe we're different people, and I always find it neat to gather an important message through a book. I really liked how surprising the book was—I was a little wary of it before I started reading, but I quickly abandoned that wariness as I got more and more into the story.

    Do I recommend reading it? Yes. I really do.

    Source: I received an e-arc of this book from the publisher through Netgalley in return for an honest review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2014

    It was alright

    Interesting plot, not an extremely great delivery. Some parts of the story felt rushed, and character development was poor. There was no world building and mostly it was a book that just left me feeling 'meh'.

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  • Posted January 13, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Overly-Hyped but Still Entertaining I would like to thank both N

    Overly-Hyped but Still Entertaining
    I would like to thank both NetGalley and Scholastic for granting me the chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review. Though I received the e-book for free that in no way influences this review.



    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?



    The story opens with 14-year old twins Marcel and Alexa staring at the remains of their burning house and the bodies of their parents on the ground in front of them. Their parents had been killed by sorcerer's fire, possibly the only thing that could have killed their father, the best fighter they'd ever witnessed. Though the Antionian army finally arrived to scare off the attackers from Blevon, it was far too late to do the twins any good. In fact, without Marcel's quick thinking things could have gone from horrific to utterly atrocious in the blink of an eye. For Antion has a corrupt king who commits atrocities hourly, all in the name of protecting Antion. Any and all orphans and captured 'slaves' (even Antionians if they can't prove they are loyal to Antion, or are simply too poor to pay off the right people) end up in one of two places, regardless of age: the military if they are male, or the breeding pens if they are female.


    Before the Antion Army is within clear sight of their village's survivors Marcel cuts off Alexa's waist-length hair, her one vanity and the only visible way to tell the twins apart. Suddenly she becomes Alex, one half of a pair of twin brothers. Luckily she had been allowed to train alongside her brother in both weapons and fighting their entire lives, and in fact was the better fighter of the two. Being so close Marcel never minded, for as he often reminded Alexa, she may have gotten the fighting skills but he got the smarts, something she never denied. Thus the two end up in the army, rapidly advancing until they become part of Prince Damian's personal guard.


    Three years later after their 'rescue' Marcel falls to an attackers arrow in the jungle. Alex is selected by the King Hector to sleep in the Prince's antechamber to better guard him. Though disgusted by the assignment Alex always puts duty first, even if it means risking her life for a vain, spoiled brat of a Prince. But secrets have a way of coming out. . . and the Prince is not what he seems. After another attack on the Prince's life he sends Alex on a secret mission, during which she is healed by a sorceress, confusing Alex to no end since her entire life she has been taught that sorcerers are evil.


    Much of the story focuses on Alexa and her challenges. Pretending to be a boy, losing her twin brother, how she will protect her secret without her brother as a roomie and lookout, learning to smother her attraction to two men in her life - Rylan, a fellow guard member, and Prince Damian, the man with more secrets than a Gordian knot. Also a fair part of the story is about how she learns to handle being lied to or having the truth excluded - often without thinking about the massive lie she is living. It is clear to all that she loves fighting, it almost seems that is what she was born to do.


    This story is chock full of secrets, scandals, and lies. The challenge is figuring out who holds the secrets, who knows of the scandals, and separating truth from lies. Alex is not the only one hiding dangerous secrets and concealing a possibly deadly past. Nor is Prince Damian. It would seem that they are surrounded on all sides by people they must trust their very lives with, all the while knowing that there is more than one traitor in their midst, just not who the traitors are or when they'll strike. If Prince Damian's risky alliance and dangerous plot succeed will Alexa be able to follow her heart, or will she be trapped in a cage of her own making?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 7, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Read on December 27, 2013 Book Info  Kindle Edition, 336 pa


    Read on December 27, 2013




    Book Info 
    Kindle Edition, 336 pages
    Expected publication: January 7th 2014 by Scholastic Press
    original title Defy
    ASIN B00ED05G9S
    edition language English
    series Defy #1
    other editions (1)
    Source:Netgalley EARC




    Book Buy Links
    AMAZON 
    B&N 




    BOOK SYNOPSIS








    A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.




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




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




    My Thoughts








    In the past year there has been a steady stream of books come to my attention that have all utilized this same scenario of a girl who is pretending to be a boy, a girl who outfights all the other males around her and when her gender is revealed she finds to her surprise that she has managed to have not just her “fellow” guardsman fall in love with her but also the crown prince that she has been guarding for the past year and more.




    Alexa is very much like the other females masquerading as males in previous books however she manages to win the readers affection through her sheer determination to do the right thing no matter the cost to herself.




    This is a great introductory novel for a new series, it is well paced, has a familiar plot with just enough differences to give it a punch that allows the characters and world building to stand out on their own merits and most of all it allows us to root for good prevailing against evil which always makes for an excellent tension builder.




    Be prepared to suspend disbelief more often than not, Alex is after all going through changes that anyone looking too closely would be able to recognize “him” as being female not male but for the sake of the story it works when you understand that we truly do “see what we want” when we are told something is true for a long period of time.




    Personally this hit all the right buttons for me with the world with which it was set, the struggle between the need to stay unmasked as a female that Alexa has to contend with for years, the secrets that Prince Damien conceals until near the end when he reveals all during the final battle for the kingdom he wishes to save from his father’s tyrannical rule and most of all the choices faced by the Prince/Alexa and Rylan as their desire to act on their feelings causes conflicting emotions from the reader who is torn trying to choose who is the best fit for whom.




    Very much a likeable main character and a tale that trips along nicely from start to finish. Looking forward to what happens next since at the end good triumphs over evil!




    [EArc from Netgalley in exchange for honest review]

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 8, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Doesn¿t this book sound a lot like ¿Mulan¿ (aka my favorite Disn

    Doesn’t this book sound a lot like “Mulan” (aka my favorite Disney movie ever)?

    Alexa is a great protagonist. She’s an ideal member of the prince’s elite guard: a skilled fighter with a sense of honor, loyalty and integrity. She’s not just literally one of the boys; she’s better than them. She can take down each and every member of the guard in a fight, including the captain. It’s not hard to understand why nobody ever questioned her higher voice, smaller size or softer features.

    From her narration, we get a different picture. After spending years pretending to be a boy, she doesn’t quite know how to be a girl. All of a sudden, she’s dealing with romantic feelings and two attractive guys. Her insecurity and embarrassment wasn’t too different from any average, awkward teenage girl (myself included). I really felt connected to her.

    Admittedly, the love triangle wasn’t a winner for me. The romantic development felt a little sudden, a little forced. With one of the love interests, Rylan, I didn’t feel the sparks at all. I have to commend Rylan for being a really good friend, though.

    I really enjoyed reading about Prince Damian. He’s definitely a multi-faceted character, and I’m looking forward to seeing him continue to grow in future books. I always seem to fall for the princes (ex: Dorian and Maxon), and this book it’s no different with this book. Bring in a swoony prince with a facade and I’m a goner.

    I could not stop giggling during the first chapters, when Damian was walking around shirtless at night, and Alexa was still hiding her identity.

    The romantic element of the plot overpowered the action at times, but I was pleased that Alexa was straightforward about her feelings in both the narration and in her conversations with the boys. Unlike other heroines, Alexa didn’t play with their hearts.

    There’s a lot of sorcery and action in “Defy.” The fight scenes were wonderfully written; I could feel the adrenalin coming from the characters. And (of course) I was rooting for Alexa and her companions the whole time. And the final battle? Whoa.

    Very little has been revealed about sorcerers and their abilities, so I’m excited to see what happens in the next books. There are also some hints that Alexa may be more powerful than she knows.

    I don’t know what the equivalent of a double agent is in high fantasy/medieval times, but “Defy” is full of them. Nearly every character has secrets and hidden motives. Until the end, I had trouble separating enemies from allies.

    The conclusion was both epic and heartbreaking. I can’t wait for the sequel, “Ignite.”


    Bottom Line
    “Defy” is an awesome book with a strong female protagonist that definitely knows how to kick butt.

    The love triangle — you either love them or hate them — didn’t really work for me, but one of the love interests caught my eye. Alexa (thankfully) didn’t spend too much time pondering over her choices or jumping back and forth between the two love interests.

    There is also plenty of fighting and sorcery and mystery to keep readers hooked.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2014

    Anin

    Ok I gave it only four stars because while i liked the book, other than lacking more in depth character building, i hate abrupt endings! So much so that this is my first review i have ever written in the last four years of owning my Nook.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2014

    Review

    It was an amzing book and it definately shows the cruelness and unhumanness of war and how it can tear apart families I loved the main character and her struggle throughout the book to make a corrupt kingdom right again

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  • Posted May 12, 2014

    I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It was The Hunger Games

    I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It was The Hunger Games meets Graceling. Alex was a likable character in many respects, and she serves as a good fictional role model: she is brave, unconcerned with appearances, loyal, and not overly concerned with boys for a majority of the novel. The plot went along quickly enough, and there was a decent amount of character development (something I find lacking in much YA fiction). The ending is incredibly satisfying, completely fitting with her character and situation. It may not be what the boy-crazy readers want to see, but it makes so much sense in this story. I'm not saying that it's the best book I have ever read, but it was fun and intriguing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2014

    Really good!

    I've been on a HUGE fantasy reading spree lateley (Throne of Glass, Graceling, Stolen Songbird, re-reading Harry Potter, the Grisha trilogy...) and I was trying to find a novel that I hadnt already read. Defy was PERFECT! It was fast paced with a very interesting story line and I fell in love with the characters. I cant wait for the next book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2014

    Wonderful book with a riveting story line. There were parts wher

    Wonderful book with a riveting story line. There were parts where the love triangle was a little frustrating ( Only because both guys seemed perfect, and you don't want her to have to choose), and there wasn't a conclusion to that at the end. The author did a wonderful job of making you feel what the characters felt, and when I finished the book, I wanted to spend more time in that world, with those characters.That is why I loved this book, and am so excited for the next book!!!

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  • Posted April 5, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This book held so much potential. And the story really could h

    This book held so much potential. And the story really could have been very interesting had it been done correctly. But sadly, the characters fall very short of their mark for me.

    I was excited about the idea of a kick-ass girl hiding in plain sight as a boy. Who would ever believe who she really was? And I completely understood her reasoning behind wanting to do so. The problem is that she's not very convincing to the reader. If she's not fooling me, who is she fooling? Oh wait....no one. And that's a huge part of this story that bugged the crap out of me. Turns out everybody important in the story has basically known all along that she's a girl. What was the point then? I also disliked how indecisive she was when it comes to Rylan and Damien. She's had this crush on Rylan forever, but all of a sudden Damien shows a slight interest in her and she's all over that.

    Our two male leads are slightly better. Rylan has known for quite some time that Alexa is not a boy but has gone above and beyond to protect the secret. It does make me wonder if that allure is part of the attraction. Damien has known since the moment he meet her because he's got a secret of his own. He only reveals the truth when it benefits him which really makes me question his true motives and the depths of he feelings.

    It's sad that the characters overshadow the storyline because there is a lot here that could have been great. A power hungry king that is abusing his nation, sorcerers, rebels, and everything in between. I may read the next one because it seems everything is out in the open now, but I'm not sure.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2014

    Yuck

    Never even finished this book. The love triangle in the book became too annoying.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Defy by Sara B. Larson is a quick fantasy read with tons of acti

    Defy by Sara B. Larson is a quick fantasy read with tons of action, adventure, and romance.




    Even though Defy is a fantasy, there are no info dumps, which was a good thing? Well, I'm not entirely sure. Larson explains her world little by little through action instead of long winded exposition. It makes for a fast paced read, but a less evolved world. I'd call this light fantasy, if anything. But, it definitely worked for this story and I did enjoy the treks through the jungle and the longtime war between Blevon and Antion. I just wished I'd gotten a little more of that stuff, I guess.




    The love triangle is slightly different from anything I've ever read before because Alex already knows both of the boys and she's attracted to them, but they think she's a boy. I don't mind love triangles, necessarily, but I like to see them done right. I had high hopes for this one and, while I did like both love interests, I would have liked to see a little more communication between all three of them. I love it when it's not all about the girl and the boys develop a friendship as well, so instead of competing for her they respect that she has feelings for both of them. I expected something like this in Defy, since Rylan is one of Prince Damian's guards and the two know each other and work together, but, unfortunately, no such luck with these three. The boys talk maybe once in the entire novel and everything centers on Alex.




    Alex is a little... I'm not quite sure what she is. She's strong and a great fighter at times, but has moments of weakness. She's smart, but didn't realize that the two boys she was attracted to had feelings for her, even though they were very open about it. I guess she's a bit of a contradiction, but then again, what seventeen year old isn't? But, I have to admit, for all of her sword skills and acting like a boy, she's got a lot of damsel-in-distress qualities. I liked her, but I didn't love her. Especially her habit of getting down on herself all of the time. I mean, seriously. If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will either, no matter how good of a sword fighter you are.




    As far as the love interests go, Damian was quite innocent for being the snarky prince. He honestly just liked Alex and felt a connection to her because of their circumstances. He didn't know he was even in a love triangle. And Rylan was such a sweetheart. He was honest with Alex about his feelings and tried to stay out of things once he realized she liked Damian. Although, I do wish he'd had a bigger role throughout Defy. But, like Alex, for all their good qualities, I just didn't love either of these boys. But, I did like them and enjoyed reading their story.




    Defy feels a little like Throne of Glass. It's got sword play, a cruel king, a love triangle between a prince and one of his guards, and a tough heroine whose a natural born fighter. It's lighter than Throne of Glass though. Less gore and less intense romance make Defy a great start to a series for younger YA readers.

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