I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Defy by Sara B. Larson | Book ReviewDefy by Sara B. Larson
Series: Defy #1
Published by Scholastic Press on January 7th 2014
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley

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 and friend 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?

What I thought NEWThe premises of this book were awesome! I mean, it reminded me of Mulan. A story that I absolutely love and have loved since I was a little girl. That being said, I think that when I first heard about Defy it just had this big READ ME stamp all over it. The story seemed pretty original and it interested me right away. Thus I started reading.

For me the characters where one of the things that made this book. The characters were great, Alexa was badass and really easy to connect to. I adored her twin brother Marcel, and their banter. Rylan was this all time good guy that every girl would love to have as a boyfriend, and the Prince… Darn, my love for these kind of guys! (He turned out to be more than the bored and spoiled prince though! A bit cliché, I know).

However, about halfway through the story, about when they’d found out Alex was actually Alexa, her character lost her strength. I understand that what she’s going through is really hard, and that she must be really confused. But it just seemed as if she forgot that she was a fighter. At times that started resurfacing but most of the time Alexa’s character seemed to be not even half of the girl we met at the beginning of the book.

What I really liked less about this books is that about halfway in the book the main focus shifts and starts focussing more on Alexa’s feeling instead of the danger they were facing. I loved this book so much because in the beginning, you have the struggle of Alexa keeping her real identity a secret, there is an intriguing political aspect and there are lots of little (and big!) plot twists. But when the love triangle, that I didn’t even mind because Alexa makes her choice right away and sticks with it, came the focus on Alexa’s feelings. Which is fine… but it is as if the impending danger that keeps growing is less important than her mood swings. The rest of the plot isn’t overlooked or something, but it becomes less important and gets second place to Alexa’s feelings. I would’ve liked to see that different.

The world Sara B. Larson created was vivid. I loved the jungle setting, I haven’t read anything with this kind of setting in a while so it was refreshing. The writing was very descriptive, I remember the trip to the ‘breeding houses’ all to well *shudder*.

All and all I did like this book! The writing, the characters and setting are great, original and fresh. The plot was good. Though, in the end I do feel the need to say, that I very much preferred the first half of the book over the second half.