by Sara B. Larson
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Published: January 7th 2014 by Scholastic Press
Format Acquired: ARC from publisher via NetGalley (thanks!)
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?
It's sad that my first DNF book (ever) had to be Defy. I thought the beginning was really exciting and intriguing. Unfortunately that's all the excitement I got. I DNF-ed it around 50% even if I was already bored by 30%. I still gave it a chance and forced myself to read at least half of the book. Not much changed. Except maybe I got even more annoyed. So anyway...
6 Reasons Why I Do Not Like and Did Not Finish Defy:
1. Too slow - at 30% there was nothing about the story that was even remotely interesting. There were some mysteries but nothing that was too interesting for me to keep reading.
2. The world building - I almost (almost!) liked the world of Defy except when I try to imagine it all, I had a hard time picturing a concrete scenery. All I knew was that they were enclosed within the kingdom walls and outside were savage beasts and all that. Plus they lived somewhere tropical. I think? It's like bits and pieces of descriptions were great but when you put them all together it's kind of... vague.
3. Plot hole! - so a little spoiler: in their kingdom (I can't even remember what it's called) boys and girls had predefined roles. Boys join the army and girls get thrown in the breeding house. The breeding house is basically a place were the king's men go to impregnate helpless young girls. It's basically a factory for warriors and more girls for the breeding house. The king has been at war for years and they don't see the war ending any time soon so they created this system wherein they would get an endless supply of army men and uh, breeders? The plot hole now is this: wouldn't it take YEARS for those babies to grow? Heck, pregnancy itself takes MONTHS (unless they're not really human and their bodies operate differently). I don't understand how this breeding house can possibly work. A war that goes on and on like that, long enough for children to grow, to train and be fit to fight, isn't plausible at all. Someone's bound to lose at some point and I doubt it'll take so many years before that happens. Especially since apparently, the enemy has sorcerers and they don't. If their enemy doesn't defeat them then I'm pretty sure the kingdom will crumble in on itself. It's either their resources run out (and I'm not just talking about armies) or the people will revolt. Major plot hole if you ask me.
4. Who are you fighting for? - speaking of the disgusting breeding house thrown into the story, since it's a major factor in the plot hole, I would also like to point out that the presence of a breeding house seemed a bit too convenient. In the 50% that I read, it's apparent that Alexa's biggest if not the only motivation is the thought that girls don't have a choice except to go into the breeding house. It's a great motivation, fighting for the voiceless, but is it all there is to it? I mean, if you think about it, what about the other oppressed? What about the poor who gets poorer because resources are used for the war? The lives lost in the war? Families left fatherless? Mothers losing their sons? ...wait! That's another plot hole right there! And a problem in the world building! Where are the OTHER women? Are they ALL in the breeding house? Huh.
5. And then she ogled - for a girl who hangs out with men a lot (and I mean a lot, what being in the army and all that) she practically drools whenever she sees the prince or Rylan shirtless. Shouldn't that be a regular thing to see for Alexa? She's been in the army for like 2 years. She's bound to see lots of muscled men. I hate that there's an excessive number of scenes where Alexa stares at their bodies and how toned they are. Or how beautiful their eyes are. I swear, I hate it whenever characters (in any book) go into detail describing eye colors... over and over again. And what is up with Alexa always getting so aroused whenever topless Damian or Rylan is in front of her? I know we all have urges but COME ON. Now's not the time! You have a war to fight, remember?
6. They KNOW - another spoiler: they know she's a girl. They've known since day 1! Alexa being disguised as a boy is honestly what made me want to read the book. I love stories that have similar plots because I love getting to the part where the love interest gets all confused because he's developing feelings for her but he's thinking, "am I gay?" Ha! Then he finds out and all hell breaks loose (for a while) then they all live happily ever- well you get it. I hated that both Damian and Rylan knew from the beginning that she's a girl. There was no surprise, no big revelation, no excitement! Period!
Much to my disappointment, Defy is mostly romance. I would've loved seeing more action and I mean real action and not just practice sword fighting. After finding out that both men knew of Alexa's true identity, it's like there wasn't much to look forward to... uh, except for explanations about the sorcerers and kidnapping but I just wasn't interested anymore no matter how hard I tried.