Series: Defy #1
Published by Scholastic Inc. on January 7, 2014
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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?
Based on the summary alone, Defy has been a read that I have been eyeing for a while now. With its promise of high fantasy and a kick ass female main character, I was certain that Defy and I would hit it off… and we did, if only for a little while.
Defy tells the story of twins Marcel and Alexa, who in the span of one night lose everything. Their parents, their home, and in Alexa's case, her identity. You see, in order for Alexa to escape the horrifying clutches of the breeding house, she must toss aside being Alexa, being a girl even, in favor of following her brother into the army's ranks.
Early on, I must admit that I adored this premise. A young girl doing what she must to survive. A girl who is well respected for her fighting skills, and who is better than her male peers in swordsmanship and fighting (gasp!). Early on, Defy had almost a Mulan-type feel to it. I just wish the feeling had stayed around.
I am not going to say that I hated Defy. I didn't, I promise. However, I can't say that I loved it 100% either. Defy sits in a weird middle ground, where it had so much potential but got dragged down by the usual pitfalls. Love triangle… check. Girl starts to "fall" in love and therefore loses herself… check. Lack of almost any world building for a high fantasy read… check. While these were never deal breakers for me and Defy, the way it was presented never really helped the book's case either.
It is hard to look back at a read that you wanted to love so much, and just have this overwhelming feeling of blah about it. The beginning half of Defy was everything I had hoped for, even if it was a tad slow. But once the romance possibilities started showing up, it seemed like it was game over for our kick ass main character. Almost instantly, Alex(a) goes from strong and fearless to weak and scared. Letting the men who she protected pages ago run the show and now "protect" her. It was silly and confusing to say the least. Plus, am I the only one who finds it a bit creepy / weird that these guys who had thought / pretended that Alex(a) is a guy for a good period of time find her so irresistible?