Defy | Sara B. Larson | Book Review

You would think that based on the official summary of Defy by Sara B. Larson it would be my new favorite book of all time, right? The summary talks about gender bending, there’s a comparison to GracelingThere is a romance. There’s also an interesting setting as well as MAGIC. Alas, I never truly gelled with Defy. Sure, the concept was interesting but there was never that something special that I felt while reading. Perhaps it is just me, though. Perhaps when other people read this they will flash back to when they read Alanna for the first time. Perhaps someone else will find Defy to be extraordinary, but that person is not me unfortunately, no matter how much I want it to be otherwise.

Defy by Sara B. Larson | Good Books And Good Wine

Sara Larson’s Defy opens with a bit of tragedy. You see, main character Alexa’s parents are slaughtered in front of her by a sorcerer, and so she runs away with her twin brother Marcel. Together, the two join the army — more specifically the king’s guard. Alexa chops all of her hair off, lies about her age and becomes Alex, because orphaned teenage girls end up in the breeding house and basically live to make babies which will become soldiers or whores. Anyways, Alexa becomes part of the prince’s personal guard and ends up being like his bodyguard. So hmmm, to get to the point of the main plot that drives the book, Alexa and another of the guards named Rylan end up in the jungle with Prince Damian and captured by a sorcerer and some insurgents from the neighboring, enemy kingdom. Damian is held as a bargaining chip. Also, there’s a rebellion brewing, hence the book’s title. And, really, that’s kind of the whole story — how the rebellion happens and what leads up to it.

You would think I would love the pants off Alexa, right? Because she’s all gender bending and dressing like a boy and totally kick ass. Also because the story is told in first person from her point of view. Unfortunately, I thought that in her relationships with other people she was just a bit too unbending for me. Like, she gets all upset at Damian for keeping secrets from her when she kept some pretty big secrets from him too. She’s also not that clever. She leads one of her friends on. She does have her good aspects and I certainly don’t expect every character to be perfect, however, I never really clicked with Alexa, she doesn’t have that Alanna star quality and charisma to me, ya know?

I think my real issue with Defy is that I’ve read this exact sort of book before with some pretty good results and I just felt like it never managed to transcend the cobbled together elements of the genre. Like, the romance feels a tad too similar to Throne Of Glass but if you switched Chaol and Dorian. The theme feels like every other girl who dresses like a boy book. I will give you the setting though, it was cool how the book was set in a jungle. We don’t get jungle settings enough, I think. In all though, I think I am going to pass on continuing with this series. It’s just not for me, but perhaps it will be the series you love with all your heart so give it a shot.

Disclosure: Review Copy Provided By Publisher via Netgalley

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I totally agree about Alexa. She didn’t have any characteristics, strengths or quirks that made her stand out as a heroine.

    On the whole, my biggest issue with Defy was the worldbuilding. A lot of the elements, especially the breeding houses, felt thrown in for dramatic effect and completely skipped over any logic or compassion. Generally speaking, when you start taking people’s children away and torturing them, they’re going to at least try to rise up and overthrow the tyrannical leadership. In Defy, nope. Not a peep. Not a whisper of rebellion anywhere, and that’s what really made it mediocre for me.

    • YES! Like, I wish that she was more unique or someone that I had connected with on a deeper level, but instead, I felt like there was this whole disconnect. Oh well.

      OH MY GOODNESS, I wish I had written more about the breeding houses now that you bring that up, how whack is it that rape is basically sanctioned in this book and no one is doing anything to rise up against it. YES, you are so right about this whole lack of rebellion and it’s super annoying.

      Yes, yes yes, I am soooooooo with you on the mediocre front.

  2. I’ve definitely heard pretty mixed things about Defy. I won’t be reading it anytime soon. I STILL need to read Alanna. I know, it’s terrible. I do think th ecover is super pretty though! 🙂

    • QUINN! I won’t judge you for not reading Alanna, trust, I did not read Alanna until like 2011, like my third year of blogging, so it’s totally okay to have not read that in childhood.

      I hope you do read Alanna soon, it’s wayyyyy wayyyyy wayyyy better than this book. 🙂

  3. I agree with how you felt about Defy! It sounded like a novel that I would really like based on that summary, but sadly, it totally felt flat for me. I think there were just a lot of things that the author tried to do that felt too similar to something I’d already read, or didn’t work for me.

  4. I was wondering if you would like this one, because you are very good at being positive, but looks like nope. This one sounds like a stinker from everything I’ve seen, which is a sad waste of genderbending, which is one of my all time favorite tropes.

    Wow, and it’s very reminiscent of TOG? Not good. Booo, I has a sad.