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Defy (Defy #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  17,820 Ratings  ·  2,404 Reviews
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 R ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Scholastic Press
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Rebekah Would say 13 and up. The breeding houses were really the only thing "eh younger people shouldn't read this" also violence

Community Reviews

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Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies

Mulan would fucking NEVER. Screw the love triangle. Screw the overwhelming romance. This is not a fantasy book. This is a love story. Don't look for anything beyond that.

Hearts flutters. Desire courses. Cheeks flush. Blood flows overwhelmingly to the penis instead of the brain. WHERE IS MY PROMISED MULAN?!

I am just so bloody tired of so-called bad-ass heroines who do fucking nothing to prove that they're capable. I am so fucking sick of heroines who spend their supposedly ass-kicking selves sob
Sasha Alsberg
Slow start, picked up 150 pages in and was interesting but predictable.
Alexa literally blushed every 2 pages so that was a bit annoying.
I didn't have too high expectations for this book so I'm not disappointed.
3.5/5 stars
Sara Larson
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
MY BOOK IS ON GOODREADS!!! (Also, I might be a tad biased on this one...) ;-)
Nov 11, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people I hate
Edit: Huh. I can't believe I didn't go over this, but the issue on the rape houses? Yeah, that was another pointless addition to a pointless book.

*Thank you Scholastic for sending me this copy via Netgalley.*

Blergh. DNF at 85%.

More times than I care to count, YA novels usually gain a lower rating from me due to the romance. More specifically, when the romance takes over the plot. Even more specifically, when the love triangle takes over the plot.

This book had so much potential. So much.
Gillian Berry

*sad trombone*

Originally posted at Writer of Wrongs

I'm having such a hard time writing this review for multiple reasons, the main one being that I wanted to love this. I wanted so BADLY to love this.

I make it no secret that genderbending is one of my favorite tropes on the entire planet. I wrote a whole post about it. The second I read about a girl disguised as a boy in a synopsis (have yet to find a good boy-disguised-as-girl book, but ONE DAY).

Just watched Mulan. and this scene came up where the 3 soldier discuised as woman... Soon after they revel there identity and take out the fruits they used as t

I want this story. Give me this story, book gods!



Why i thought this would be a really good book i have no idea. Got my hopes to high for this one, and look where it got me.
Why do i do this to myself?

It actually started really good! At the beginning '4 stars!' was constantly popping up in my head.

This is, like, a retelling of Mulan (<--- if you haven't seen that dinsey movie what are you doing with your life?), and i am shocked it wasn't mentioned at all (in the synopsis, on the book cover, ect). Did the author th
Ash Wednesday

I really thought reading a non-romance Western before diving into a book as universally panned in my feed as Defy, I'd be able to offer a unique perspective. Because I've been sufficiently warned off from this book but I genuinely thought taking expectations out of the equation, bracing yourself for the worst… maybe it won't be so bad.

There's a war waging between Blevon and Antion and Alexa Hollen just lost her parents to a sorcerer. Together with her twin brother Marcel, she is forc
Whitley Birks
See more on my blog.

This book started out with one of the most horrific displays of misogyny possible, and then it carries on in a mediocre fashion after that. I probably would have finished reading the book if I hadn’t been so pissed off from the start, but it wasn’t good enough to carry me through my distaste, so I DNF-ed at about halfway through, when I realized that the main character wasn’t going to shut up about all the toned and muscled torsos around. (You’d think they were painted in neo
I have many feelings about Defy, and it's difficult for me to articulate them in a coherent review right now. So let's just do a little list first, eh?

1. My main issue with this is that it started out with a lot of promise despite basically reworking something that's been done much better (more on that later) and I was reading with a lot of interest to see what was happening. The breeding houses concept, while horrifying, was an interesting plot point that totally gets abandoned (except for the
See more reviews at YA Midnight Reads

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 protagoni
Gail Carriger
This book contains one of my favorite tropes: a girl who disguises herself as a boy. In this particular novel's take on the trope the main character, Alexa, is forced to undertake subterfuge, because of her government's violence towards women. In other respects, this novel is a classic monarchical drama of transference of power. At the beginning of the novel I found it difficult to like Alexa, she seems to have little personality of her own. However, as the story progressed I liked her more.

Steph Su
May this book serve as early 2014's warning against faux-feminist YA literature. It terrifies me to consider the deeper implications of how a book with such an unbelievably wrong heroine is being marketed as "strong female lit." Because DEFY is no feminist work at all--it's chock-full of well-meaning but insidious interpretations of such terms of empowerment. I love a rollicking girl-disguises-herself-as-a-boy read as much as the next person, but when it's done incorrectly (to be explained in a ...more
Nov 28, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2013
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kathy * Bookworm Nation
A great addition to the YA High Fantasy genre, which is a favorite of mine. I love stepping out of our contemporary world and into a fictional land. With fantasy novels anything is possible; I love the magic, politics and romance. This story had them all.

Our heroine Alexa was likable and easy to root for. She has to hide her identity to protect herself and for the past three years has not only been a personal guard to the Prince, but has also been disguising herself as a boy. Normally I’m not a
Jul 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
So you’re writing that excruciating 500 page young adult fantasy and you’re wondering how to turn your baby into a money grabbing best seller, amirite? Follow this outline and you’re sure to bring in the big bucks!

Let’s begin with the key points:

Shallow/Shoddy Worldbuilding

Oh no, let’s not make this deep. We want to make this fast and sweet, young adult readers don’t care about your expansive worlds! They want the here and now! We’ve got your base kingdom, your other kingdom that wants to start
Cait • A Page with a View
This is basically the Song of the Lioness quartet meets Throne of Glass! The story had every awesome element: fast worldbuildng, adventure, a solid pace, sorcerers, castles, princes, capable girls, and some basic politics. I really liked the jungle setting, too! I've been getting tired of most YA novels glossing over whatever battle or confrontation that most of the story leads up to, so it was nice to see a book follow through in a way that didn't feel cheap.

Alexa's reasons for disguising herse
I hadn't heard of Sara B Larson's debut, Defy, until it showed up in my mailbox, which is shameful of me, because I'm normally pretty on top of anything that even hints at the phrase "gender-bender." (I blame this almost completely on Tamora Pierce, and probably a little bit on movies like Rocky Horror, Ladybugs, To Wong Foo and Just One of the Guys. My formative years in a nutshell, friends.) So even though I had no plans to read this, and a whole stack of other things that needed to be read in ...more
Robin (Bridge Four)
This is listed as a fantasy and I love YA fantasies, I was really hoping for something along the lines of Mulan. But, if I rated this as a fantasy I’d probably only give it 1 star. Just because you give a girl a sword and put her in a world with castles, Kings and Sorcerers your work shouldn’t be done. A great fantasy has a new world or society with a lot of detail to it in my opinion. I want to believe, I want to picture the people, the housing, the society and for the most part I didn’t get a ...more
Anna Luce
Nov 16, 2013 marked it as unlikely
This sounds promising!

Am I the only one who thought of Mulan?
Also reviewed for Addicted2Heroines

There's a lot to love about Defy. Tough girl who has to pretend to be a boy, hot prince who has to pretend to be obnoxious, evil sorcerers, misunderstood magic, and a kingdom in peril. It's not what I would consider action-packed, but the story clips along at a good pace.
I was initially a little worried by the hint of a love triangle in the blurb, but it turned out to be fairly obvious who she was actually interested in.
Yeah, and then there's the other guy.
3.5 Stars

For a book filled with cliche's left and right, this actually wasn't too bad. I'm tempted, however, to give this three stars for the sheer fact that nothing in this book had me thinking. I knew who Alexa was going to end up with, I knew what Damian was, I knew Ryland knew Alexa's secret ... and so forth. Pretty much the entire time I knew what was going to happen - and yet, it wasn't even that bad (you're probably like what?). Which is really weird for me to admit. Usually, I don't enjo
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
And we have my first DNF of 2014.

I made it 53% and I either hate everything or it bores me.

It utterly fails to make a point with the genderbending aspect, so if you want to read a YA fantasy set in a non-white society in a jungle that does make some good points in a thoughtful exploration of gender -- read Alaya Dawn Johnson's The Summer Prince instead.
Thibaut Nicodème
Dec 19, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: snark
Full, chapter-by-chapter review on my blog, the Snark Theater.

This book manages to combine two flaws that I did not think were compatible: being dreadfully boring, and really offensive.

The premise is an obvious Mulan ripoff (and the ending doesn't help me get rid of that idea): Alexa has to pretend to be a boy and join the military. Instead of doing it to save her dad, it's to save herself. Namely, save herself from being sent to a breeding house, which is basically a rape house.

This is the firs
If I were looking for a book to recommend to younger YA readers filled with fantasy, action, turmoil and strong characters, I would easily say read Defy by Sara B. Larson! With so many YA fantasy books to choose from, why this particular book, you ask? The characters are what make this story work! Alexa is a teen girl whose life has been turned upside down through tragedy, her only family left is her brother. Together they join the King’s guard, and Alexa hides her gender as Alex, becoming one o ...more
Sara Raasch
Feb 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: valentines
You're about to be VERY jealous of me -- I got to read DEFY back when it was DAUGHTER OF WAR. Fight scenes and a jungle-kingdom and a desert-kingdom and mysteries and assassins and hot boys (mmm, Damian) and a sadistic king. All the makings of a great YA fantasy, and fans of THRONE OF GLASS and SHADOW AND BONE will have no trouble falling under DEFY's spell too.
Jaime (Two Chicks on Books)
DEFY WAS AWESOME!!!!! Most of you know how much I love my High Fantasy and Sara B. Larson wrote a story that I can say (well at least in my opinion) is up there with my favorites! Yep add her to my list of faves such as Maria V. Snyder, Rae Carson, Leigh Bardugo, Morgan Rhodes, and Ursula K. Le Guinn!

What I loved about Defy was Alexa was a kick ass character! She was a girl who had been pretending to be a boy for years! She could even best most of the boys in a sword fight and was chosen as one
Oct 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
I was very excited to read this book after reading the description, however the book is very disappointing and does not live up to its potential. This book is filled with choppy sentences and writing that lacks any elegance. I found Alexa/Alex to be frustrating and at times offensive. The other characters are flat and unrealistic. This book contains a pathetic and unnecessary love triangle that seems out of place in the story. Although I see what the author was aiming to write, overall her plot ...more
Shahad takleef
“True beauty is what lies inside of us, not what the world sees. A beautiful shell that houses a vile soul becomes sullied over time. But an outer shell, imperfect as it may be, that houses a beautiful, shines with that beauty, radiating it for all who have eyes to see.”

This is a Dystopian novel about Alexa , a girl who had joined the military with her twin brother disguised as a boy when she was thirteen to avoid some other horrific destiny , Its been ten years since their country had starte
C.G. Drews
This book has me baffled. I’m swinging like a pendulum here, peoples! It’s neeeearly a 4, but I can’t overlook the problems I had to with it. So a 3-star? I’m TORN. You don’t see a really cool epic-fantasy with an awesome premise everyday. This has an awesome setting. It just doesn’t have awesome anywhere else.

What did I love? Helloooo! Jungles? In epic-fantasy? Yes, please! It has a real Amazonian feel to it, and that’s so fresh and unique! I enjoyed the premise so much! It has rich culture.
Tricia Mingerink
Things I really liked:
- the setting. Medievalish fantasy set in a jungle? Um, yes, please!
- the audiobook narrator. Yes, I listened to this on audiobook, and they picked a really good narrator for it. The narrator has an alto voice, and did a really good job of doing a hard-edged, deeper tone that made me believe Alexa could pull off pretending to be a boy for 3 years.
- the way Alexa pretending to be a boy was handled. This book pulls off the difficult balance of having her still feel like a g
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Sara B. Larson is the author of the acclaimed YA fantasy DEFY, and the sequels IGNITE and ENDURE. She can’t remember a time when she didn’t write books—although she now uses a computer instead of a Little Mermaid notebook. Sara lives in Utah with her husband and their three children. She writes in brief snippets throughout the day (while mourning the demise of naptime) and the quiet hours when mos ...more
More about Sara B. Larson

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“True beauty is what lies inside of us, not what the world sees. A beautiful shell that houses a vile soul becomes sullied over time. But an outer shell, imperfect as it may be, that houses a beautiful, shines with that beauty, radiating it for all who have eyes to see.” 74 likes
“Sometimes it seemed like those with the most rotten interiors were blessed with the most exquisite exteriors.” 62 likes
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