Book Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson

Title – Author: Defy – Sara B. Larson
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Series/Standalone: Series – Defy #1
Format – Source: e-ARC – NetGalley

For the past three years, Alexa Hollen has disguised herself as a boy and earned her way into the elite prince’s guard. Alex is the best fighter in the palace, but even she can’t fight a sorcerer. When she, her fellow guard friend Rylan, and Prince Damian are kidnapped and taken into enemy territory by a sorcerer, Alex finds that she’s not the only one keeping secrets. Alex has to find the strength to save herself, her friends, and her kingdom.

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So I made a bit of a mistake in requesting this…I had read the description earlier and saw that it was specifically marketing a love triangle, so I decided not to request it. Then I completely forgot that decision and that I had seen the book before and got it when NetGalley was promoting it as a “read now” book. So basically I’m senile.

Then I made another decision to just ignore the love triangle because the summary for the book includes a lot of my favorite things: a girl disguised as a boy, a girl who’s a better fighter than all the boys, a hot prince. I’ve also been trying to be less judgmental about love triangles in general. I get that they’re still popular (though honestly I don’t think I’ve seen a single blogger who likes them), so I just have to grit my teeth and bear it. And I have had love triangle fun picking teams and all. My problem is when the love triangle becomes the focus of the novel and I felt that was the case with Defy. There’s plenty of action going on. Politic plots, fights, kingdoms to save. There should be other things to talk about. But what it felt like was that every page Alex was thinking about how hot either Rylan or Damian looked. She flips back and forth between the two and it reminded me of The Elite and we all know how I felt about that. I think there are better things to focus on than how blue Damian’s eyes are.

Then there was the villain, the evil king. I haven’t read a villain this flat in ages. He’s just evil. There’s nothing more to him, no nuances or complications. He perpetuates a war that’s destroying his kingdom, he’s a rapist, and he killed his family. And don’t even get me started on the rape houses used to breed more soldiers. Actually, hold on, do get me started on the fact that the only women in the story other than Alexa are raped. That’s literally the only reason for the existence of women in this novel. They’re used to show Alexa’s and her MALE companions’ compassion. We’re supposed to like the characters in this book because they look at women being raped and think that’s wrong. That’s it. We’re supposed to feel for Alexa because she cries over having to take girls to the breeding houses. And Damian is supposed to be a hero in this book because he vows to get rid of them. Using women as plot points, portraying them as background noise in which their only characteristic is their fate to be raped, disgusts me.

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With a lackluster villain, too much focus on the love triangle, and poor treatment of women, Defy ended up disappointing me despite featuring some of my favorite story elements. If you’re looking for a good fantasy girl-dresses-as-boy book, avoid this like the plague skip this and read Tamora Pierce’s Alanna series instead.

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2 – crazily bad – Bellatrix Lestrange

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson

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