It’s not a secret I was eagerly waiting for Defy, after all I shared my excitement with you in one of my rare WOW posts. Even when reviews with low ratings started to pile up, they could not dampen my enthusiasm. I mean: ya fantasy about kick-ass heroine who is masquerading as a boy? Bring it on!
When I started to read, it looked like my optimism will pay off. Alexa seemed like just the kind of strong and kick-ass heroine I hoped. After they were orphaned in war Alexa (disguised as a boy) and her twin brother Marcel joined the army. Thanks to their extraordinary fighting skills, after three years they are members of Prince Damian’s personal guard. The war games are becoming more brutal every day, the attacks on Damian’s life are happening more and more often and it turns out that some people suspect that Alex, the best swordsman in the guard, might not be what it seems…
This is a great premise on which a good ya fantasy novel full of intrigue and battles could have been written. Sadly, Sara B. Larson decided to take a different route and focus the story of Defy mostly on romance and love triangle between Alexa, Prince Damian and her best friend & guard member Rylan.
The biggest disappointment in Defy was definitely Alexa. I can blame my expectations and traits I imagined she will have for this. If we ignore Alexa’s exceptional skill with the sword, Alexa mostly reminded me of Bella Swan from Twilight and Anastasia Steele from Fifty Shades of Grey (two of the most annoying characters in literature I have ever encountered). When Alexa is confronted with a guy she likes, she transforms from experienced soldier into this blushing, clumsy mess. She keeps talking about their beautiful eyes… Shimmers slide down her spine…. Their words send jolts through her body… She can’t stop staring at their lean muscular bodies and somehow they keep getting half naked, for Alexa’s ogling pleasure.
Someone would argue that they are walking without their shirts because it’s tropical setting and a lot of action happens in a jungle. But if that is the case, shouldn’t have Alexa after three years gotten immune by now?
And don’t even get me started on:
- Breeding houses where orphaned girls are taken and repeatedly raped to make new soldiers for king’s army. Those soldiers will be ready for battle in 15 years. Honestly, I think hiring mercenaries would have been cheaper and given immediate results.
- Alexa, Rylan and Damien are captured and dragged across the country for weeks. Experienced soldiers would have found opportunity to escape since a lot of times they were not even tied. But kissing is all they think about.
- Everything is so f**king obvious. And then you need to wait until Alexa figures it out (a lot of chapters later). She confesses that she’s not the quickest bunny in the forest, but still… This made the plot drag on too much and I was more and more bored as the book progressed.
Defy left me feeling deeply disappointed and irritated by: Alexa, lack of world building and a lot of holes in the plot. If I want a novel with so much focus on love story, I will read something from contemporary romance genre. As for a novel from fantasy genre I do not mind if romance is present, but I also require good development of world and characters to enjoy it.
A little bit too sugary but still carries a nice message:
True beauty is what lies inside of us, not what the world sees. A beautiful shell that houses a vile soul becomes sullied over time. But an outer shell, imperfect as it may be, that houses a beautiful soul shines with that beauty, radiating it for all who have eyes to see.
In The End…
Defy is debut novel by Sara B. Larson light on fantasy and heavily focused on love triangle romance. While I think that younger female readers might enjoy it, more demanding fantasy fans will probably find it lacking in world building and character development.