by Sara B Larson
Hardcover, 336 pages
To Be Published January 7th 2014 by Scholastic Press
Placement in the Pile: Top Picks
Summary: 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 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?
Okay, this review would not be complete if I didn't tell you a little bit about Sara. I've known Sara for 7 years now, and I can tell you this book is the culmination of just as, if not more years of work and love being spread onto the page directly from her heart. I am so excited for her and her debut novel. This book has a special place in my heart, as I know it does for her!
That being said, remember as a reviewer, no matter how I love the author, I have to be honest about the book. Well luckily in this case I don't have to sugar coat things to tell you what I loved about DEFY!
Having read many of her other novels throughout the years I can tell you DEFY is the culmination of all she has learned from those endeavors. Sara's strong point is the romance. She always writes compelling romance with twists and turns in the individual character's story lines that affect the relationship.
Yes, DEFY is a fantasy set in a unique jungle covered country, but it's the emotions and the relationships that are at the heart of this book. The disgusting actions of the King force Alexa and her twin brother's hand when her parents are killed. And Alexa has to live a lie. She has to be strong, and in so many ways she is. But she is also human, and feminine and those emotions have a way of breaking through when she is alone and allows herself to think her teenage girl thoughts. The juxtaposition of her strong exterior and her tender heart made her feel real to me. None of us are tough and strong all the time. And I think teenage readers will appreciate her honesty with herself.
The best part of the book is the pacing. It just never stops. You think Alexa has things figured out only for a wrench to be thrown into the mix. Some of it I saw coming, some of it I didn't.
Do yourself a favor and save those giftcards for a week after Christmas and go pick up DEFY! If you enjoy fantasy and romance, this is a book for you!
Oh and I'm totally team Damian. You'll have to tell me what team you're on when you read it!