Review Detail

Defy (Defy #1) FeaturedHot
Young Adult Fiction 4155
Heavy on the love triangle, and too problematic for my taste
Overall rating 
 
2.3
Plot 
 
2.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
2.0
Spoiler warnings!
Featured on my blog here: http://thebibliohphile.wordpress.com/2013/12/24/defy-by-sara-b-larson/

I’d like to believe this book simply wasn’t for me, but that would be a lie. I am a huge fan of anything fantasy, and Defy had the potential to be something great – and then fell awfully flat.
The story follows Alexa, a girl who pretends to be a boy to escape the breeding houses of her kingdom and join the army instead. Alexa’s a really good fighter, even better than her twin brother Marcel. In fact, even though she’s only seventeen, she’s one of the best of her unit, which is the prince’s guard. As their kingdom’s war with another gets worse by the day, Alexa finds more about the political tension that actually surrounds the king, culminating in her being kidnapped along with the prince and her friend (who’s also a guard). They journey through a deadly jungle and then Alexa learns more about the political tension. And then Alexa finds out she’s special.

Yes. That’s the plot.

There are so many things that are wrong with this book. Like the breeding houses – of course, our main characters don’t support what they’re used for, but rape is basically a plot device here. That avenue could have been explored so much better, but really, all the breeding houses are just (a) a reason for Alexa to pretend she’s a dude and (b) a source for Alexa-angst. Just… no.
Then there’s the matter of her being a boy. She’s just plain bad at it, and I’m saying even worse than Amanda Bynes’s character in She’s The Man. That bad. I have no idea how she survived three whole years doing it, because that’s absolutely unbelievable given how she acts. Honestly speaking, if I’d been anyone who observed her closely, I would’ve known there was something off (no wonder it turns out that half the world knew). The book makes it look like she’s just started this act. What’s worse is that not only did a whole bunch of people know she’s a girl, but they did nothing about it. I guess this was supposed to imply that there’s really no difference between girls and boys, etc. etc., but in a kingdom which is so obviously gender-biased, why did no one care about her identity? At the very least, the boys who loooove her ought to have said something, because if she was found out she would be sent to the breeding houses – and that’s a very real danger that no one except Alexa ever seems to worry about. That actually makes it look like rape isn’t all that bad, if it didn’t deserve some sort of warning. And actually, as more people find out she’s a girl, she doesn’t act more like one – she cries more often, she thinks about boys more often, she doesn’t train regularly (this was something I was wondering about the entire book – a guard who’s supposed to be the best of the best ought to stay in form). That’s not acting more like a girl because the game is up anyway, it’s acting like the stereotype of a girl. And all that was just off the top of my head.

The book was all right in the beginning, but as soon as Alexa, Rylan, and Prince Damian are abducted, it falls apart like a card house in an earthquake. The world building is pitiful here. All I know about Antion is that it has jungle. Just a random mention of tropical fruits here and there. All I know about sorcery is that sometimes it’s black, and then it involves demons and summoning fire. There’s nothing quite so sad as underdeveloped magic, and this book is a grade A example of that. How does the sorcery work? Why do questions like this never occur to the characters? If the concept is already out there, and the characters knew all about sorcery, then it would make sense not to go too deep into it. But Alexa knows next to nothing about this, except that she can’t defeat it. To someone who’s trained as a guard, wouldn’t it be logical to find out about the sorcery before trying to best it head on? In the summary, Alexa ‘uses her quick wit’. WHAT QUICK WIT, I ASK YOU? Oh. No. Wait, Alexa is special, she can do it anyway. Alexa finds out that so many people close to her are involved with sorcery, but she never, ever pauses to consider how it works.

Notice that I didn’t mention the love triangle – because it made me so irritated I’m going to have to dedicate an entire paragraph to it. The reason the plot failed for me in the aforementioned earthquake was the love triangle. The entire jaunt through the jungle is about the love triangle, literally. There’s nothing about why she’s being abducted, or where they’re going – if you were abducted, would you quietly follow along and ponder your tragic love life? That’s what Alexa is doing. She doesn’t make any attempt to find out what’s going on, but she just listens to what Prince Damian tells her. How does that sound like a strong heroine in any way? And then there’s the actual love triangle, which is so improbable that I was rolling my eyes. You’re telling me that Alexa has to choose between the guy she’s trusted and had a crush on forever, and the prince who was a snobby brat all the time but was secretly not-so-snobby? You’re telling me Alexa had to choose between one of her closest friends and someone who manipulates her throughout the book? I love bad boys, but this is stretching it. Alexa and Damian not only make no sense at all, but she literally starts falling for him after she saw him shirtless. All it takes is a flash of those pecs. It was so illogical.

The action at the end doesn’t make up for any of the horrors that the reader has to endure throughout the book. In fact, I would’ve understood the action at the end better if not for the fact that I didn’t understand the sorcery at all. It’s upsetting because Defy could’ve been really good, but I think it has far too many holes for me.

I will probably not be reading the second book in the series.

I received this book as a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This did not in any way affect my judgment or opinions of the book. I’m also not being paid for this.
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 0

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

We are Together
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The power of love and friendship is celebrated in this...
The Order of Time
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
“If you’re into secret societies, time-travel, dangerous artifacts, deadly assassins,...
Thomas Edison: Lighting the Way
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Learn about the life of Thomas Edison in this early...
Cuddle Close, Little Koala
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
A reassuring bedtime story about the special bond between a...
Pete the Cat: 5-Minute Bedtime Stories: Includes 12 Cozy Stories!
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Join Pete the Cat for 12 groovy, cozy stories perfect...
Rage and Ruin (The Harbinger, #2)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Half-angel Trinity and her bonded gargoyle protector, Zayne, have been...
Ty's Travels: All Aboard!
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Join Ty on his imaginative adventures in Ty's Travels: All...
Literally: Amazing Words and Where They Come From
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A stunning non-fiction picture book about the origins of the...
Sabina: In the Eye of the Storm
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
As in Anne Frank's "Diary of a Young Girl" and...
Ghost Wood Song
 
0.0
 
4.0 (1)
Sawkill Girls meets Beautiful Creatures in this lush and eerie...
My Love is All Around
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Mommy Bear shows Baby Bear how love is all around...
I'm not a Mouse!
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Olivia really doesn't like her nickname - mostly because it...
My Panda Sweater
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
The other kids may laugh, but I always feel safe...
One Day on our Blue Planet... In the Outback
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
From breakfast to dinner, dusk to dawn, children will love...
Mrs Bibi's Elephant
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A heartwarming story with a message as big as an...
The State of Us
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
"Dre and Dean have got my vote!"—Adib Khorram, award-winning...

Latest Member Reviews

That's Not What Happened
 
4.7
"WHAT I LOVED: There have been countless school shootings in the United States and hundreds if not thousands of..."
Rage and Ruin (The Harbinger, #2)
 
5.0
"RAGE AND RUIN is a fantastic sequel in THE HARBINGER series. Picking up where the first book left off, we..."
Ghost Wood Song
 
4.0
"Shady Grove inherited her father's talent to play a fiddler to call the dead. He used a special fiddle to..."
The Falling in Love Montage
 
5.0
"THE FALLING IN LOVE MONTAGE is a beautiful YA contemporary romance that follows Saoirse (Seer-sha). Saoirse speaks to the reader..."
Crave
 
4.3
"After the death of her parents, Grace comes to an Alaskan boarding school. Once there, she senses something is 'off'..."
You Brought Me the Ocean
 
3.7
"YOU BROUGHT ME THE OCEAN is a graphic novel of the origin story for Aqualad. Jake is 17 and living..."
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth
 
2.0
" I received a free copy from the publisher through Netgalley. The Most Dangerous Place on Earth centers around a..."
Pumpkinheads
 
4.7
"I am pretty new to graphic novels so when I won a copy of 'Pumpkin Heads' on GoodReads I was..."
Burn
 
3.7
"BURN imagines a world that is just like ours, except that dragons exist. Dragons have been around for longer than..."
Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed
 
5.0
"WONDER WOMAN: TEMPEST TOSSED is a fantastic new story featuring Diana coming into her own. She has been raised among..."
The Archer at Dawn (The Tiger at Midnight, #2)
 
5.0
"THE ARCHER AT DAWN is a fantastic sequel in the THE TIGER AT MIDNIGHT trilogy. This second book picks up..."
My Calamity Jane
 
5.0
"What worked: This is a fun paranormal twist on historical figures set in the Wild West of 1876. I loved..."
Where Dreams Descend
 
5.0
"FEEDBACK This book was everything I wanted and more. It begins with Kallia and her performance. It quickly descends into..."
The State of Us
 
5.0
"THE STATE OF US is a really fantastic YA contemporary romance that follows the children of two political rivals. Dean's..."
Live Like Legends
 
5.0
"LIVE LIKE LEGENDS is an absolutely fantastic YA fantasy romance. We follow Kalista, who is a princess born to be..."
Blood Countess (Lady Slayers)
 
4.3
"Visually, this book is a gorgeous work of art, splattered with blood from cover to cover. For those familiar with..."
Like Sisters on the Homefront
 
4.7
"Top 3 reasons to read LIKE SISTERS ON THE HOMEFRONT: 1.) The characters- Gayle, a NYC girl sent to..."
Daphne and Velma: The Vanishing Girl
 
3.7
"Daphne Blake and Velma Dinkley are opposites. Daphne is popular, traditionally pretty, and sociable. Velma prefers books and information to..."
Felix Ever After
 
5.0
"Felix has never been in love, but he wants to be. He wants the experience of opening your heart, having..."
The Sullivan Sisters
 
5.0
"Eileen, Claire, and Murphy Sullivan used to be close. They had their special traditions, their shared laughs, and their shared..."