Book - 2014
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Seventeen-year-old Alexa's parents were killed by a sorcerer during a raid, so she has disguised herself as a boy, joined Antion's army, and earned a place on Prince Damian's guard--but Antion is ruled by an evil king, and "Alex" must find a way to defeat him and protect her prince.
Publisher: New York :, Scholastic Press,, 2014
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780545597586
Branch Call Number: YF LAR NVD
Characteristics: 323 pages ; 22 cm


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Oct 13, 2017

DEFY by Sara B. Larson is a derivative fantasy with boring, forgettable characters and flat world-building. The pacing of the plot was all off and there was no excitement or action to it. There were also hugely problematic aspects. I usually have a better experience reading a book versus listening to the audiobook because I'm a very visual person, but it was the opposite here. The narrator convinced me to listen to the entire audiobook (8-9 ish hours), whereas if I'd been reading the book I probably would have DNFed it. I'm a slow reader and I doubt I could handle more than 9 hours with this book. The writing itself wasn't bad and I see the potential but DEFY is one of those books that should've never seen the light of day.

There is nothing in this book we haven't already seen in YA fantasy; the author is unable to make it stand out. DEFY is trying to be GRACELING but falling short. We see one kingdom warring against the other, a love triangle, a king hated by his heir and a special snowflake protagonist - and it is all badly executed. RED QUEEN is a good example of a book that takes things we've seen in fantasy and makes something different of it. DEFY not so much.

I can't tell what was worse - the plot, the world building, the characters or the problematic aspects. If I'm on chapter 10 and still waiting for something to happen, there are issues with the pacing. Sometimes when there's a lack of action, there's at least a focus on characterization but not with DEFY. There was very little character growth and honestly, the only characters I remember are the protagonist Alex/Alexa, her twin brother Marcel, the Prince Damian and Rylan, another member of the prince's guard and the other love interest. I also remember the king and an assassin, but not their names.

The world building was very confusing and I couldn't catch enough of the details, although that may be because I listened to the audiobook. If I miss the name of a character or place, I can stop and rewind it, but I can't see how it's spelled etc. I cannot for the life of me remember the names of the two kingdoms, I don't really know what sets them apart and I am only 50% sure of when and how the war between these two kingdoms started. I do know the kingdom the MC lives in has a jungle-like environment and thanks to a review (read after starting this) I know the other kingdom is supposed to be desert-like. I assumed the rest of the fantasy world fit a European medieval period.

This book needs a trigger or content warning. The world building and plot are based on rape and abuse. The kingdom the MC lives in has these "breeding houses" where orphan girls are imprisoned, abused, and raped so that they can "breed" new soldiers for the King's army. The summary I'd read for this book had nothing about breeding houses?!

The king would either take orphan girls from his own kingdom and send them to the breeding houses or they were orphans from the enemy kingdom that his army captured (or both?). I'm not too sure, it's one of those details I missed. The orphan boys were however forced to join the army... This is why the MC disguises herself as a boy. Orphan boys join the army and orphan girls are sent to the breeding houses. Not only are rape and abuse just thrown in, but there's no *logical* reason and it isn't examined in the text. The king apparently does this to increase the size of his army but the war only started 5-15 years ago (I think). I don't know if the author forgot, but children take a long time to grow. The king doesn't want child soldiers either. The MC was orphaned at 14 and had to lie and say she was 17, in order to join the army. Not only that, but having an army of people you've enslaved is probably not a good idea - I'm surprised there were no rebellions or rumours of soldiers wanting to assassinate the king. This was just so sickening to read. I don't want a fantasy book that is based on rape and abuse and isn't even examined in the text.

sarahbru17 Jul 06, 2017

Characters: 10/10
Plot: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
This book was so satisfying. I'm bummed that it's over, but excited that there are two sequels.
Alexa is a fantastic protagonist. I completely adore her; I would want her to be my friend. She’s tough, without be snobby; she’s sweet, without being weak; she’s got all the romantic feminine feels and all the passionate fighter in her. She has joking and sarcastic moments, but she’s so intensely filled with purpose and strong motivation.
In general, I hate love triangles. But this one was done well in these ways: 1. Alexa clearly admired both men, but made her decision quickly and efficiently when the time came; 2. Both men clearly care for her, are both attractive, but are very different; 3. It added conflict and motivation. I had to admit, I was disappointed in her choice at first, but I also really liked her relationship with him. The way the book ends, though, I honestly have no idea where this whole triangle is going to go.
This plot was deeply compelling. There was so much at stake. I really loved the Mulan vibe to her concealing her gender, and with the breeding house as the alternative, there was a really strong motivation there.
The ending was so satisfying and unsatisfying at the same time. I’m so glad certain plots were tied up, but there’s so much potential for the sequel. I just want to immediately jump into the next book. I don’t want to leave this world.

Feb 06, 2017

Loved it ! So happy to have found another author who is a great writer and also glad that the series has been completed ( I think) so I can continue without waiting a year between installments.

Oct 23, 2016

This is the best book I have ever read in my entire life. Never have I been so connected with a novel, the characters were realistic, the plot was intriguing and the story line is absolutely empowering. Can't wait to read the second and third book.

Jun 18, 2016

Action packed

Apr 13, 2016

Although other people may tire of the whole idea of a girl pretending to a boy and fooling everyone else idea, whether it be a book, movie or T.V. show, I actually quite enjoy them. Defy was by far no exception to my thoughts. Going into the book at first, I was a little hesitant to try it or not, but once I started to read I could not stop. The author really shows the struggle of Alexa and how she had to pretend to be a boy because of the King’s orders for what would happen to any and all girls. Instead of going into the breeding houses, she chose to join the military as a boy and turned out to be the best fighter in the King’s guard. The story does develop with her romance and how she had to ‘choose’ between the two guys which she loved. But, alongside that romance, there were bumps in her life, the book showed how she had to overcome those bumps and who helped her achieve that. The ending of the book really did hit me, in my opinion it was a very powerful ending that made you want to read the second book in the trilogy.
- @Pixin of the Teen Review Board at the Hamilton Public Library

Sep 12, 2015

(rating the audiobook) An ununsual premise and interesting worldbuilding, but a narrator who's a little too unbelievably naive and, to be honest, pretty dense about the people around her. I agree with the other reviewer who found Alexa's lack of grief about her twin brother totally unbelievable.

May 19, 2015

Loved this book. Hope you like it too!

Black_Horse_55 Aug 06, 2014

I really enjoyed this book! It's kinda like Mulan (:

Jul 29, 2014

This book was decent, but Alexa didn't really come off as especially realistic. Her brother dies, and the two were "super close" yet twenty pages later, she barely gives his death a second thought and is just trapped thinking about the problems in her love life.

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