Series: Defy #1
Published by Scholastic Press on January 7th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
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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?
This book was just- WOW. I wasn’t sure about it at first, mostly because of some iffy reviews and I knew there was a love triangle- but when I finished it, I was just completely overwhelmed. Man. The ending was just so- unsatisfying but perfect? It left me wanting more, so I’m DEFINITELY going to continue the series, but at the same time I kinda wished for a little more in this book.
Okay, I’ll start with the love triangle, because I feel like we need to get this out of the way. Sure, it could probably have gone both ways, and I wasn’t overly fond of either guy, but the most frustrating thing about love triangles is that the heroine usually can’t decide, right? She loves them both. Well, I am pleased to tell you that in this book, that is NOT the case. She isn’t really indecisive, at least not for more than a few pages total. She makes up her mind pretty early on even though she acknowledges that she could have fallen for the other guy if circumstances were different. And the other guy still holds out just in case, which is sad, but like I said I wasn’t really rooting for either one so I don’t feel that bad. Ah well. The important thing is that Alexa knows how she feels. And it feels so satisfying with that. Another thing is that she doesn’t let her emotions get the best of her or let them dictate her decisions. Surprisingly, she is good at putting duty first, which makes the end kind of annoying (but also leaves plenty of room for the sequel! *squeal*). So I have to say that as far as love triangles go, it was a very good one. I had no problem with the romance in this book.
But the plot was fantastic! It was similar to one of my favorite series, in which the heroine has to work for an evil king, but more closely serves the prince, who is good. And that’s basically what happens here. Add in the fact that no one knows she’s a girl and it gets more exciting. Then add in some magic and things really hit the fan! Wow. There were so many plot twists that kept the action going nonstop without being frustrating. A lot of the time when you can’t see something coming and suddenly it’s like- bam! I didn’t know that character could do that! What else is he hiding? That’s frustrating, but in this case it just added to the excitement, in my opinion. The plot was going every which way and I was just eager to see what happened next, never mind all the little things popping up everywhere. I can understand why this may be confusing, but I loved it. And there were a lot of secrets, but as things started falling into place I started to see that it really was masterfully woven together. And all the secrets helped contribute to Alexa’s somewhat frustrating decision at the end, which totally legitimized it even if I was a little mad at her for denying me my happily ever after.
This book was not without misfortune, of course- in fact, I may say it certainly wasn’t death-shy at all. A lot of good people died, people that meant a lot to all the main characters. It was sad. But that feeling was used as fuel to fight for something greater, so it was justified.
I will admit, I didn’t get extremely attached to anyone. I liked Alexa a lot, and the other characters were great, but it wasn’t very hard for me to deal with misfortune. (Which for me is kind of a relief; I tend to get emotional easily when reading.) But in general I think that this was just a fun story to read- it’s very fast-paced and the romance is intriguing and the plot will keep you on your toes.
All in all, while the characters were somewhat lacking except for Alexa, the book’s plot and pacing and romance make up for it completely. It’s a fast read, not too heavy, and extremely exciting. Would I read more by this author? Definitely, I can’t WAIT to read the sequel. Would I recommend this to others? YOU BET! READ IT!