Series: Defy #1
Published by Scholastic
Pub Date: January 7th 2014
Format: ARC | Source: NetGalley
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
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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?
Defy is a high fantasy YA novel that takes place in a medieval realm where guards practice with wooden swords, sorcery exists, and kings still live in castles and reign over kingdoms. This story is centered around Alexa, a girl who due to circumstances out of her control, is forced to pretend to be a boy less she become a part of the king’s cruel brothel service. What is special about Alex (formerly known as Alexa) is that not only can she use a sword but she is pretty much an all-around badass. She (posing as a ‘he’) and her twin brother Marcel join the king’s army and are sworn to protect Prince Damian.
Alex has trained herself to act, talk, look and breathe like a boy and hides behind this facade day in and day out. Besides her twin brother Marcel, the only other person she can really call a friend is Rydel: Tall, muscular, honey-eyed Rydel. No one on the King’s army knows her secret, only her brother and no one can know her secret or she may be forced into the brothel.
The kingdom where she serves is currently at war with an enemy kingdom and an attempt is made on the Prince’s life within the castle. Alex, being the best fighter and swordsman the army has, is appointed by the King to guard the Prince at all times. Which typically would be a somewhat normal task, but Alex is a girl and seems to get all hot and bothered in Prince Damian’s presence. Prince Damian happens to look like a model on the cover of GQ but is very cold and heartless to everyone. Problem is, the Prince seems to be a different person around Alex which only seems to increase the fluttery action going on in her stomach. It’s around this time that Alex starts to see a different side of the Prince that goes against everything she’s ever believed about him.
We often tend to see female characters succumb easily to their emotions, sometimes feeble-minded and naïve but Alexa is not that, though she has some internal emotional turmoil that goes on throughout the story, she always seems to compose herself and keep treading forward. She is a very strong female character. Of course, she does find herself attracted to two boys *cue the love triangle*. I know what you’re thinking, “another love triangle?!” Yes, but bear with me here, I too am a bit over the love triangle scenario but I couldn’t help but get suckered in. This love triangle does prove to be a little heart breaking (as is normally expected), and at times I wasn’t sure who I preferred better but it did make for an interesting story.
I was highly impressed with how well-written and well thought-out the storyline was. At times Prince Damian’s character frustrated me with all his secrets that seemed to be never-ending. But I appreciated the way the romances progressed and all the mystery surrounding the Prince. Alexa proved to be an easy heroine to like and I grew very fond of her. She is strong, collected, and fierce and can fight better than most men, but she is also gentle and loving. I finished this book in one day, couldn’t seem to put it down. The intensity of the story and the characters seemed to keep me pinned to this book and kept me turning the pages. I am very excited about this series and this new author and can’t wait for the sequel.