[ARC Review] Defy by Sara B. Larson

(Defy #1)
Author: Sara B. Larson
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: January 7th, 2014
Pages: 336 (Hardcover)
Genre: YA – High-Fantasy, Romance

A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and heart-racing romance.
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?
Thank you Netgalley and Scholastic for the review copy! This doesn’t affect my opinion or review at all.


When I first read the blurb, I thought Defy was going to be a kickass fantasy with awesome protagonist despite of the love triangle. But as the book progresses, sorry to say that I am very disappointed with this.

“I’d been doing it for so long, I didn’t even have to think about it anymore. Trying to sound like a boy was natural to me now.”

The concept is actually something that I’d never heard of in YA: a girl disguising be a boy to save her life. And when I started the book, I was so in love with it I was like “OMG this is going to be a favorite!<3” However, after Alexa’s brother death in the first 50 pages, Defy quickly went downhill.

I already knew from the blurb that there would be a love triangle – and unfortunately a predictable one at that. The love interests are Prince Damian (a lazy prince with – wait for it – secrets whom Alexa initially hates but the more she gets to know him, the more she realizes that he is far more than that) and Rylan (the loyal type of guy who has befriended Alexa and her brother since the very beginning). You can guess which one will win, it’s very obvious.

Moreover, I don’t like the fact that in page 100+, it’s revealed both love interests have known that Alex is a girl. Too convenient. I assume it’s made that way so that the love interests can get started to, you know, basically get closer to the girl without having to pretend that she is a guy and the girl doesn’t have to keep disguising as a guy anymore and just. Do. What. Hormones. Say.

My main issue with Defy is how the romance takes over the plot. In the middle part until the last page, Alexa spends her time being confused and going back and forth between two guys, resulting in very little actual plot development. PUH-LEASE. Also, I was irritated how in one moment Alexa gets mad at the prince for keeping secrets and next second she already forgives him. (That happens quite a lot.)

The prince is obviously the more dominant one in the love triangle and the romance between him and the protagonist is a bit of insta-love. However, I feel like Rylan is just thrown here. . .I think he’s barely in the story and I must admit that I like him better. When I was reading, sometimes I felt bad for him because it seems like everything he does can never please the MC. For example when Rylan offers Alexa help and she goes like “dude, I need no help I am strong enough!” but when there is Prince Damian she just throws herself at him and I was like. . .

In the later part of the book, something other than the romance FINALLY happens and there this baffling explanation about politics, lies and other stuff I didn’t quite understand. But at that point I was too bored and too fed-up with the romance, thus everything fell flat for me.

There is a huge potential in the concept but too bad the execution is dissatisfying. Apart from the infuriating romance, almost non-existent plot and inconsistent protagonist, the only things I like in Defy is the ending and a couple of characters (Marcel and Rylan). I do appreciate the ending – it is unlike what I had expected. The ending portrays a realistic consequence of wars and I suppose it is accurate enough.

Although I was either frustrated or disinterested most of the time, I will still give Defy 2 stars considering how much I enjoyed reading the beginning.

*Lol, look, my thoughts on the romance takes over my review! xD


16 thoughts on “[ARC Review] Defy by Sara B. Larson”

  1. Aww I liked the one actually. I agree with you that the love triangle is very conventional, but I think I still enjoyed it nonetheless. I was disappointed at Marcel’s death. I was hoping for some epic crazy reaction from Alexa, but it seemed to have less impact than I have hoped. I did like Alexa as a character though. I think she is a strong female lead and I’m curious to see what will happen in the next book.

    Angel @ Spare Reads

    1. I’m so glad you liked it more than I did though! 🙂 Yeeep the love triangle is very predictable and I hope authors don’t just write something so conventional that’s already been used thousands of times… :/ I initially liked Alexa’s character but then Marcel died and the book went downhill from there 🙁 and I was also disappointed that she is not as upset as I expected, considering she’s very very close with her twin.

  2. This sounds like a very bad spin off from Celaena’s romance with Prince Dorian & Chaol.. SUCH A SHAME. I like the cover and High fantasy is awesome.. I’ve read several books with girl disguising as boys, but how convenient that these boys already know she is a girl. Blugh 🙁

    1. Haha I haven’t read ToG so I’m not quite sure to compare it with what xD yep, I thought if her identity stayed hidden for longer things would have probably been more excited for readers :/

  3. Ehhhh, definitely going to avoid this. I struggled when trying to decide to request it or not but now I am so glad I didn’t-this sounds bad in so many ways. Oh, well. I will not be tricked into that good synopsis if the actual book is awful.

  4. I just read the description when I clicked on your review and I was like YES! Fantasy Romance <3
    Then this
    Darn. I almost always avoid love triangles. I hate it when romance turns into so much drama. Actually, I recently read Shatter Me and Unravel Me (which were amazing) so they’re not always bad I guess. Definitely going to avoid this one though. Thanks for the review!

    1. I’m planning to start Shatter Me trilogy after the last book comes out — hopefully I will like it more than this one. I’ve heard a lot especially about Warner thanks to Mitchii @ Aeropapers haha. Looking forward to it 😀

  5. Now I kinda regret reading through your review. I have no idea how that’s gonna affect my own ideas when I read it for myself! Oh well 😉 I actually wanted to write a story like this last year (fantasy as well) with the girl pretending to be a boy. But when I plotted out the romance, I didn’t want the love interest(s) to know she was a girl. Idk how to go about that though haha. Calling for a bromance? Anyways, I can’t wait to start cracking open the pages of this book.

    1. I can’t wait to see your review — curious about what you thought of it, Ariella! When I read that it’s about girl pretending to be a boy, my mind instantly thought of that Korean Drama I watched a couple years ago haha. It’s called You’re Beautiful but I think there’s also a Japanese version…

  6. UGHHH. I wanna pull my hair out. This book had SO MUCH DANG DIGGITY POTENTIAL! I mean, there’s not a lot of books out there where a girl pretends to be a guy. I seriously hate it when the romance takes over the plot. I say that a lot in my reviews, and this book will definitely be a big, fat SKIP for me. This makes me very sad. I hate it when the sounds plot amazing, and then when you start reading it, it’s like, “is this the right book!?!?!?!”.

    1. Yep when romance takes over the plot I’m usually going to be mad too! I mean, aren’t there better things to do than making out when there’s literally war going on around the couple???

  7. Wow ok, I literally just read a review saying how much they loved it so I’m not sure what to think anymore :P. I hate it when the romance takes over the plot and I really hate love-triangles!

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