Defy by Sara B. Larson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Defy by Sara Larson is one of those books that snuck up on me. Until I saw it on Netgalley I honestly hadn’t heard a lot about it but I have to say, I was glad I jumped at the chance to read this one as it falls into one of my favorite genres, high fantasy. On top of all of that, it has a great story and some of my new favorite characters. I will spoiler tag most of this so I don’t ruin anything for anyone but be warned if you continue reading…I may not be able to help myself.
Three years later, both Alex and Marcel are a part of the Prince’s Guard. Their responsibility is to protect Prince Damian at all costs and they both take their roles seriously. Because of this, they are both considered some of the best guards but Alex stands out as the best and if not for her age, would have been Captain of the Guard.
I love that Alex/Alexa is such a smart and strong character. She’s also at the age where she is beginning to notice the guys around her. Obviously they don’t know that she is a girl so she would never do anything but she is definitely beginning to notice some around her – specifically Prince Damian and Rylan. The thing that separates these two guys, aside from status, is the fact that Alexa really likes Rylan and he is her friend. On the other hand, based on what she knows about Damian, Alexa doesn’t really like him. She believes him to be spoiled and lazy. She is definitely surprised when she starts to learn more about him.
I will say, the description calls out that there is a love triangle but honestly it didn’t bother me. It might be because once Alexa made her choice, there really was no question so for me, I didn’t feel like it pulled me out of the story.
There is a lot of action in this story. From sword fights to protecting Damian, Alex/Alexa definitely doesn’t get much downtime. While protecting Damian, a sorcerer sneaks into the castle and attacks. While definitely a strong fighter, she isn’t strong enough to stop the sorcerer and ultimately Alex, Damian, and Rylan are kidnapped. As she is held with both Rylan and Damian, Alexa finds that her secret wasn’t really a secret from these two and on top of that, they have been keeping things from her.
I thought Larson did a wonderful job of building the world these characters live in as well as pulling me into both the good and bad situations. There is a lot of death in this book and to main characters but all of these moments helped to move the story along as well as in some cases, give the characters purpose.
Here is where I will take a moment to reflect on how swoony both Damian and Rylan are. Both of them knew that Alex was really Alexa but kept her secret and for their own reasons waited to tell her they knew. I won’t include a lot of quotes from these guys but I’m not at all ashamed to say that the majority of the highlights for me in this one were of these two interacting with Alexa and telling her (finally) about their feelings.
“Thank you,” he said softly as I stared up at him once more.
“For saving me – and I don’t just mean from that arrow.” He smiled, a soft, wistful smile. “It’s always been you, you know that, right? From the first moment I realized you were a girl – it was always you.”
“Do you have any idea how hard it was to keep pretending, to bury how I really felt, knowing I’d never be able to do anything about it without endangering you? And now I finally have a chance to treat you the way you deserve – to cherish you the way a woman should be when a man loves her. And all you can do is stare at the prince.”
See???? Both of them are swoony and I don’t envy her having to make a decision.
From a bad guy perspective, they really are bad. Iker and King Hector definitely have issues and to honest, I wasn’t really sure what Iker’s motivation was other than to be an evil sorcerer but the whole idea of the breeding house just made me mad/sad/angry and I completely understood Alexa’s reaction to it.
Alright, back to the story. A lot goes down and quite a few secrets are revealed once the kidnapping happens. I’m not going to go into the detail here but quite a few things come out about Damian that make Alexa think twice about whether she can trust him. He definitely has his reasons and I don’t disagree with him at all considering some of the things he had to deal with. I actually liked how he handled everything in the end and am interested in seeing how things change for him. (hide spoiler)]
I absolutely loved this one and couldn’t put it down. I am
Thank you to Netgalley and Scholastic for the review copy!
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