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Friday, January 24, 2014

Book Review - Defy (Defy #1)

Book Review

Bookshelves: Young Adult, Teen Romance, Fantasy, Fairy Tale

Rating: 3 of 5 stars (It was ok)

Recommended Age: 17-18+
The romance is pretty mild, there is violence and death, breeding houses (aka house of rape) makes me lean toward a much older teen audience.

** spoiler alert ** 

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I enjoyed Defy. The beginning immediately hooked me as we meet Alexa and her brother Marcel standing in front of their burning home as enemy soldiers are on their way. We learn that orphan girls are sent to a place called the breeding house (which scared and intrigued me all at the same time). In an attempt to save his sister, her twin brother Marcel convinces Alexa to cut off her hair and pretend to be a boy to be sent with him to be trained into the kings army instead.

If you read the excerpt you might think Mulan right away. This is not a good comparison. I would definitely shelf this book in the ya romance section. There is a love triangle, think Team Rylan vs. Team Damien, and our female lead just happens to kick butt with a sword, arrow and hand to hand combat. 

I didn't find this book to be driven by the world created or the magic, so I wouldn't necessarily shelf it in fantasy. I found the characters more of the leaders. Alexa could kick butt, since she was little, her father trained her well so she makes it quickly into the prince's guard. I thoroughly enjoy a kick butt heroine and I did like Alexa at the beginning. I liked the fight scenes and Alexa's drive and determination. I liked the boys' banter you normally miss out on in ya novels. I felt like you really see two Alexa's throughout the story. One at the beginning, and one once the romance begins. There were two things that bothered me about Alexa. In the beginning we are constantly being told how she is blushing or getting hot around boys and how she can't feel or act that way because another boy wouldn't do that. I would have rather seen it instead of being told over and over. We know that she is pretending to be a boy and boys wouldn't usually blush when another takes off his shirt. But if she hasn't been discovered for the past 3 years, why the sudden worry she can't control herself now? The other thing is after the romance begins and she's training. She admits defeat and gives up. A girl who doesn't cry through everything she's seen, especially with what happens in the first quarter, but now all of the sudden she's going to cry and pout and want some comfort food and cuddle time because someone beat her in training. What the heck? Who is this girl? I didn't feel like she was the same Alexa. I know that she was pretending when she was Alex, but one person finds out she's a girl and she's suddenly a sappy puddle of emotions? We see the old Alexa here and there but the whole crying, emotional thing went a little overboard. I expected a meltdown, a good cry, and pick herself up and fight to change it, which she does eventually, but keeps returning to those tears on the way.

Damien was alright, but I didn't feel the connection we kept reading about. Rylan was way more solid to me, probably my favorite character. But sadly he gets the friend card early in the triangle. I did enjoy a lot of the smaller characters, though they weren't given much time. The triangle romance really captivates a lot of the book, so expect it. 

The breeding house of course bugged me, as it was a house of rape to create more boys to add to the king's army, but there wasn't more on that. It was so unique and it was a huge point in the beginning I really thought it would mean more to the plot but it was just a background feature. There seemed to be a lot of background missing. I'm thinking this may be a series, and more answers will be cleared up later, but if this is it, there were a lot of unanswered questions. There were some twists and turns in certain spots, but the main plot was somewhat predictable. The magic and sorcerers was pretty basic, not much new there. The ending was well rounded, not cliff hanger not complete closure. I wasn't happy with Alexa's decision at the end, but I have a feeling this isn't the end.

Overall though it was a decent read. I was eager to keep reading and find out how it all panned out.

I would recommend this book to someone who enjoys a ya romance with a kick butt heroine and magic. I am curious as to the remaining questions, so I will be watching for the next in series.

Thank you Scholastic for this opportunity.

Happy Reading!


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