by Sara B. Larson
Released January 7, 2014
What others are saying:
Booklist: Defy has "...grand adventure, romance, and thrilling political intrigue." (from the author's blog)
"A wonderful tale of adventure, romance, and embracing your true self. Alexa is a heroine readers will love to follow!" --Marie Lu, author of the Legend series
"(Defy) 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, author of The Maze Runner series.
What I say:
There may never be another female YA protagonist as passionate, feisty, and fierce, but also fabulously flawed, frightened, and fragile as Alexa (Alex). After young Alexa witnesses the brutal murders of her parents by the Blevonese army aided by an evil sorcerer, Alexa is forced to cut her hair and take on the persona of a young boy (Alex). Alex and her twin brother Marcel join the king's army and because of her tenacity and fierce warrior spirit and commanding swordsmanship, she advances to the elite king's guard. Years pass, and Alex becomes comfortable pretending to be a boy, so comfortable, in fact, she sometimes wonders what being a girl feels like.
An enemy attack on the palace makes the king nervous. He orders the royal guard to watch over his son Prince Damian at all times. Alex is tasked with the chore of sleeping outside of Damian's chambers. The prince is spoiled, arrogant, and haughty, but, oh, so handsome. Alex begins to feel something she has never experienced before, and she is careful not to let her feelings show--she is a "male" fighter and the prince's private protector. She fears what may happen to her if she lets her "guard" down (pun intended).
When Alex, fellow guard Rylan and the prince are kidnapped by a sorcerer, they are taken deep into jungle as prisoners of the country of Blevon. Alex is surprised to find out that both Prince Damian and Rylan know she is actually a girl; however, she keeps up her disguise in front of the rival army.
Damian holds the secret to his father's kingdom, the plan to ending the bloody war, the power to defeat evil sorcerers and the key to Alexa's heart. Alexa is torn between her sudden, passionate fire for Damian and her sisterly love for Rylan. Can she afford to break Rylan's heart and fall headlong in love with the future king? Can she trust Damian--who keeps secrets from her? Does she believe his word? Can Damian's plan actually work? Can mere humans defeat an army of black sorcerers?
Teen readers will be swept away by the mesmerizing romantic tale. Alex/Alexa is compelling and intriguing; Damian is smoldering and sexy. Rylan, too, is swoon-worthy. Defy may be the next YA novel to movie--anyone in Hollywood listening?
Highly, highly recommended for every reader but will resonate with those who love romance, adventure, action and fantasy and a fierce female warrior. The author spends most of her time on plot and character development instead of world building, but that being said, I didn't miss knowing every minute detail of Alexa's world.
Suitable for grade 7-up with this caution: in the beginning of the book, Alex has to take girls to the breeding house where girls of their kingdom are prisoners forced to breed for the kingdom. It's not pretty. Some kissing.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.
This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)