I saw this book going around the blogosphere, aaaand I requested it from NetGalley — and actually got it! Woot!
DEFY hits shelves on January 7th.
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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 has me baffled. I’m swinging like a pendulum here, peoples! It’s neeeearly a 4, but I can’t overlook the problems I had to with it. So a 3-star? I’m TORN. You don’t see a really cool epic-fantasy with an awesome premise everyday. This has an awesome setting. It just doesn’t have awesome anywhere else.
What did I love? Helloooo! Jungles? In epic-fantasy? Yes, please! It has a real Amazonian feel to it, and that’s so fresh and unique! I enjoyed the premise so much! It has rich culture. Languages. People spitting darts out of pipes. All the good stuff. I loved how the world was torn by war and an insane king, and how clearly it was set out. No confusion! That wins insta-points from me.
But apart from the epic, jungly setting, I had some problems.
Yes, I’m going to be a snarky bookworm for a second: why is there a love triangle? Aren’t bookworms up in arms against anything resembling the formidable triangle in YA? I personally don’t mind the dreaded triangle, so long as it’s done well and doesn’t dismantle the plot. Buuut, we don’t get that here. I felt the plot got put on hold so we could have our love-triangle fiasco. Then, boom, decisions made! Let’s move on! And I felt bad for both dudes in the triangle. They were so unequally matched. Plus neither of them deserved Alexa. Why? Because Alexa was dang awesome.
Alex is the narrator. She masquerades as a boy to avoid imminent doom and death (as we do in high fantasies). She runs around with her awesome twin brother, Marcel, and is part of the Prince’s guard. Yup. Enter Prince Damien! Proof that Kuzco still has a pouty lip. Not only is Damien a brat, he’s also fiendishly handsome. Ohhhh. AND there’s more to him then meets the eye. (Insert winking here.)
You want to meet the other side of the triangle? No you don’t. He’s just Rylan. Besides having an infinitely more awesome name then “Damien”, he’s Mr. Nice Guy. So obviously he gets friendzoned faster then he can say, “I wuv you Alexa.” Is Alexa still masquerading as a boy, you say? Why yes. But everyone apparently knows and is just keeping her secret.
You know what I found most frustrating? Is when it epic, kick-butt girl suddenly gets WEAK-ZONED. She’s the most epic fighter in the world and suddenly, because people know she’s a girl, they start protecting her! It really made me angry! She could whoop their butts…but both male counterparts find the sudden need and urge to protect her. As the story progressed, I felt Alexa lost a lot of her kick-butt-ness. She became a softer girl who needed protecting. Now, honestly, I have noooo problems with soft girl characters. I love them to death (um, ouch). BUT I don’t like it when the kick-butt girl has to lose her coolness to be compatible for a dude to love her. That stinks.
Okay! On other topics: the writing was okay. It wasn’t astounding, but it was good. I loved the premise (as I’ve slightly mentioned). And I loved the set up and climax of the plot. I had a hunch about what would happen, and I was right…but. Read carefully: I WAS WRONG ABOUT THE LOVE-TRIANGLE OUTCOME. And I will say no more.
This is a fantasy not to be missed. Honestly! It uses some fresh concepts. There’s plenty of funky sword fighting and secret sorcerer stuff. There had definitely better be a sequel, though, because that was not an ending. You can’t leave me hanging like that!! Where is your mercy?!!
Cait is a sucker for books. Any books. Getting packages of books in the mail is always the highlight of her week. Seriously. She hugs those little blighters. Apart from coddling inanimate objects, she’s being convinced (by Mime) to do a vlog. She’s also making Christmas decorations. She would like to eat a mince pie, but alas, apparently it’s too “early” for Christmas cooking.