By: Melanie | January 8, 2014 | (31) Comments

Review: Defy by Sara B. LarsonDefy by Sara B. Larson
Series: Defy, #1
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, YA
Pages: 336
Source: Received in exchange for review
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A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.

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?

Despite my one star rating, I wasn’t at all disappointed with Defy. Simply because I knew it was going to be bad, and I went into this novel just to see how terrible it was. However, I had not expected it to be so bad that I nearly vomited in my mouth.

Defy checks all boxes for one of the worst fantasy books I’ve read this year. Sure, we’re only 7 days into 2014 but I can just feel like it’s going to be the worst I’ve encountered.

1. Fail, un-kick-ass protagonist? Check. We have Alexa (Alex) Hollen, disguised as a boy to be her brother’s twin in order to escape the breeding houses instead to be a member of Prince Damian’s personal guard. Apparently, Alex could beat the captain of the guard in a match but I felt that Alex was so weak. I wanted an as hard as nails chick who would kick ass in her sleep. I wanted a girl with a heart of steel. But instead I got a girl who dreams of her two love interests. I got a girl who couldn’t stop her goddamn emotions. There was this certain scene where the main characters are being attacked and Alex quickly jumps into the action, I was rather confused. Because her personality was whiny and girly I totally forgot that Alex was supposed to be some heroic and kick-ass boy.

2. Non-existent world building? Check. For majority of the time, I couldn’t imagine anything that the author was taking about. Just insert some castle here and jungle there, viola! I need more details, more substance. And not breeding houses.

3. Illogical plotting? Check. So there’s a war that’s been going on for some 10-20 years and the evil, evil king decides to get all females who have reached the age where they can reproduce to go to these breeding (rape) houses so they can make soldiers. So basically, these lil’ infants are going to go to war. WUT? You at least have to have them grow up as well as train them which is also gonna take another 10-20 years. How the flip does that work when your nation is already losing the war? How long is this war gonna go on for? NOTHING MAKES SENSE.

4. No history on the world the author as created? Check. Apart from the horrendous and irrelevant breeding houses, we don’t have much else. There’s no history of what happened to make this war begin and stuff like that. I don’t want to be thrown in the middle of a book and just left there staring into the distance. I need background information. I need to know why some people have special powers and why some don’t.

5. Love triangle? Check. We have a snotty and lazy and ungrateful Prince Damian and a sweet but annoying best friend Rylan. Who does she choose? Why of course, the impossible to have, Prince Damian! *rolls eyes*


What makes me want to gag more is that it just happens that both love interests knew that she was a girl ever since and loved her ever since. O___O


If you want a girl disguised as a guy, go for Eon or watch Mulan. Honestly. Don’t waste your time on this.

~Thank you Scholastic for sending me this copy!~

1 Stars
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Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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31 Responses to Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson

  1. Lexa Cain says:

    As I started reading the post, I raised my brows a bit at “Scholastic” (I don’t particularly like their choices), and then got a very bad feeling when the beginning of the blurb was so self-congratulatory. If they’re telling us it’s “A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.” it means they’re afraid they won’t be showing it in the book or they’re afraid no one else will ever say it. I hope you find something more fun to read soon, Mel!
    Lexa Cain recently posted…IWSG: Keep StaringMy Profile

  2. I kind of find it funny that a lot of authors still write such half-assed books despite history showing people just don’t like them. Plots and world building that make no sense whatsoever, awful love interests… I mean, come on. There’s a reason why books like Harry Potter are so popular… because effort was given to them.

    With that said, I’m not touching this one. I can be a sadist, but I think I’ll save myself from the headache that will surely inevitable ensue 😛
    Faye @ The Social Potato recently posted…ARC Review + Giveaway (US/CAN): The Emperor’s Blades by Brian StaveleyMy Profile

  3. I’d seen some pretty good reviews on this and was really was considering it, but after your review, I really don’t think I want to anymore. I’m really eager to find a real kick-ass female character, not one in disguise, and this one doesn’t seem for me. Great review, insightful and helpful! 🙂
    Amanda @ Book Badger recently posted…From Hobby to SnobbyMy Profile

  4. Aww I’m sorry this one was terrible! I would definitely feel the same as you based on what you didn’t enjoy. I hate love triangles when they aren’t done properly and this sounds like a perfect example. And a weak character who tries to be strong is one of my hugest pet peeves because it makes them seem hypocritical and like a walking paradox. The way you described the plot and world-building makes it seem absolutely horrendous and those are two of my must-haves in any book. I’ll definitely be staying away from this one now, I’m sorry you had to read this book. fantastic review, though, Mel! <33
    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted…Unhinged by AG HowardMy Profile

  5. Stephanie B says:

    No!!! Melanie! *cries* I wish you had liked this book. I just loved it so much. 🙁 Sorry you didn’t enjoy it.
    Stephanie B recently posted…Review: Confessions of a Murder SuspectMy Profile

  6. Your spoiler made me laugh! I’m so sorry this book didn’t work out for you. I agree with the points that you mentioned. That would definitely make me give a book a 1 star. 🙂
    Dre @ Sporadic Reads recently posted…Book Review 111 : A Vampire’s Christmas Carol by Cynthia EdenMy Profile

  7. Kezia D says:

    Agreed on everything you said Melanie! O_O Bad romance, no actual plot development, confusing worldbuilding and annoying MC *shakes head* I didn’t know that this book would be THIS bad… I enjoyed the beginning until Marcel dies and the book totally went downhill! Plus, I hate it even more that the girl goes back and forth between the guys TOO MANY TIMES. UGH and the way she forgives the prince easily and just throws herself at him while she acts all so tough with Rylan -_-

  8. Tanja says:

    Okay you have me! After reading some not so great things about this book but I still had a little hope inside of me. But after your review I’m out. I mean no world building and there is love-triangle! NO! I’m out. Great review, Mel 🙂
    Tanja recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (#77)My Profile

  9. Melliane says:

    I didn’t ask for it because I wasn’t sure it was for me and now well I’m glad I didn’t. lol. I’m sorry it wasn’t for you but I totally understand the problem there…

  10. Jenni says:

    ha it does sound like this one is pretty bad but I have to say that you have more willpower than me, I would never read a book I just knew was going to be terrible. Hopefully your next read will be a better one!
    Jenni recently posted…Review: Uninvited by Sophie JordanMy Profile

  11. Oh a love triangle and shaky world building and a whiny heroine. I think I am passing on this for sure. I didn’t request it anyway as it really didn’t appeal to me, feel like I dodged a bullet or a bad book at least.
    Heidi@Rainy Day Ramblings recently posted…Review:The Offering(The Pledge #3) by Kimberly DertingMy Profile

  12. The summary itself doesn’t appeal to me, so it’s not something I was probably ever going to read. Sorry it wasn’t a bit better. Sometimes books can surprise you!!
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Psych’s Premiere Brings them to EnglandMy Profile

  13. I have not read a single positive review for Defy, so I’m going to avoid it like the plague! No really, I can’t stand a bad fantasy. The characters and plot sound awful.
    P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex recently posted…WoW – Far From YouMy Profile

  14. Oh my nope I cannot get past all of these issues..LOL Bravo for reading it!
    kimbacaffeinate recently posted…Ruined by Jus AccardoMy Profile

  15. I completely agree with your review, Melanie. Defy was an entirely disappointing read for all the reasons you listed. To add to your suggestions of good reads with girls disguised as boys, I feel like this book was a badly done version of Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness quartet.
    Kris (Imaginary Reads) recently posted…Review: Flame by Amy Kathleen RyanMy Profile

  16. Charlotte says:

    I am really thankful that Scholastic rejected my request for this one through Netgalley. And that the publisher ignored my request my direct e-mail request. Good lord, I really hate it when the synopsis misled us. Fine, I am going to take this book out from my TBR.

    I really don’t have time to read some mumbo jumbo of a book. And wait,Damian and Rylan knew that she was a girl from the very beginning? But she was supposed to be disguised as a boy. So that makes them really clever or gay.

    Well, at least you finished this one and lived to tell the tale. xD

    Lovely review <3
    Charlotte recently posted…Book Review: The Forbidden StoneMy Profile

    • Melanie says:

      I thought they were gay to start off with, but then they reveal that they knew. This one on NetGalley was auto-approved for everyone, I think though

  17. Alise says:

    I’ve heard nothing but terrible things about this book and your review only strengthens my resolve to avoid it. A bad world, writing, and characters? Where’s the enjoyment in reading that?
    Alise recently posted…Review: World AfterMy Profile

  18. I am so sad to hear this. This was one of most anticipated books for 2014. How can it be so bad? It’s not fair. I might read it anyway to see for myself, if I can manage to borrow it or something. Thanks for the review.
    Rochelle Sharpe recently posted…Fiction Friday: Review ‘Cloaked’ by Alex Flinn.My Profile

  19. Emily says:

    As of now, I don’t know whether to laugh… or laugh xD Good lord, that sounds horrible! I’ll be definitely be staying away from this one! (“A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.” Oh the irony!) But seriously. Why is it that these ninnies want to throw themselves at Princes and all the bad boys? Why for once in the world, can’t they just be satisfied with the one that’s always been there for them?!
    But great review, Mel!! Very informative 😉 <33
    Emily recently posted…Making Friends in the BlogsphereMy Profile

  20. The whole idea of the love-triangle between a prince, a (supposedly) kick-ass girl and a good friend made me think of Throne of glass. I can see that is offensive for that awesome book! Uhg, how disappointing. This book sounds like it could have been great, but the whiny Alex alone seems to spoil everything.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…FF 24. What I look for in book boyfriends.My Profile

  21. I pretty much felt the same way about this book. Everything about it made me want to rage and gosh, I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a character as much as I hated Alexa. She was so whiny and annoying for someone who was supposedly tough and manly! Ugh. Also, that frustrating and really crappy love triangle? I gave up on the book when she easily forgives Damian for lying, manipulating her and declares her love for him. Was Damian supposed to be swoon-worthy? He just came across as an utter douchebag to me at least. Anyways, I’m sorry this was a failure of a book for you, Mel. I hope you read better YA fantasy novels to compensate for this.
    Nick @ Nick’s Book Blog recently posted…Blog Tour Stop : Branded by Abi KetnerMy Profile

  22. Kate Bond says:

    Eon has ruined so many girls pretending to be boys stories for me. They are just never as good. WHY CAN’T THEY BE GOOD?

    I’m so glad I decided not to read this one; the Graceling-y cover made me suspicious, and it looks like my instincts were right. Your review is hilarious, though, so I guess at least it gave us that.
    Kate Bond recently posted…Neverwas: reviewMy Profile

  23. Rashika says:

    I am definitely not surprised that you didn’t like it. No one I know likes it and for good reason from what I can see.

    I feel like I’ve encountered MANY supposed kick ass female leads that just don’t do it for me. They are supposedly badass and what not but being kick ass isn’t all about being able to literally kick asses, it’s about having a back bone as well. Which dreaming about two guys doesn’t involve 😛 😛

    But seriously bad world building in fantasy is a nightmare. The best thing about fantasy IMO is the world building and as someone who loves fantasy, bad world building is well my personal nightmare!

    I am sorry you had to put up with all the crap. 🙁

    Great Review, Mel! 🙂
    Rashika recently posted…The Ruby Red Trilogy by Kerstin GierMy Profile

  24. Rachel says:

    I usually don’t go for girl-pretending-to-be-boy stories and with the addition of the love triangle, I’m running far and fast. Great honest review, Melanie. 🙂
    Rachel recently posted…Review: The Shadow Reader (The Shadow Reader #1) by Sandy WilliamsMy Profile

  25. Wow, that was a strong reaction. lol I’m glad you kinda figured going in though so less disappointment. I’m seeing reviews all over the place for this one. I’m not sure if I want to bother giving it a try or not. Probably not.
    sarabara081 @ Forever 17 Books recently posted…Review: The Promise of Amazing by Robin ConstantineMy Profile

  26. I didn’t hate this one though I wasn’t blown away either. I laughed at your descriptions of how very much you despised this book. As a fantasy book I saw many fails (world building please), but I was entertained and found it easy to read. My biggest peeve with the book was that NO ONE NOTICED Alexa was a girl. 2 weeks on the road with guys and they never noticed you didn’t need to shave? I couldn’t get over that and it really irked me.
    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted…Review of Fire & Flood by Victoria ScottMy Profile

  27. Siiri says:

    Ok, so after your comment on my book haul this weekend, I decided to put reading your thoughts on hold after I was done with my own DNF review. Guess what, we basically agree on anything! I didn’t love Alexa and yes to all this girly shit. Like, who was this girl? How come she always found herself swooning and basically fanning when she was supposed to fight and keep a straight face instead and let’s not even talk about the world building! It was seriously lacking *winces* No history, yep! I kept thinking what in the world? Why is this even going on? There was very little information offered. Also, the love triangle–one of the worst. I mean, it was cliché, yes, but there was also no freaking chemistry between any of the characters and wtf yes!!!! I didn’t understand how come only the two of them knew and never said anything and on top of that they managed to fall in love with her. Like are you serious? No surprise I DNF-d this one. I’m keeping my money on this case and purchasing something else to read. Eon sounds great and since you hated this, recommend Eon and everyone else loves it? Why, yes, I may actually get it for myself now 😉 Hope whatever you’re reading right now is better!
    Siiri recently posted…Review and Giveaway: Stir Me Up by Sabrina ElkinsMy Profile

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