Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson

Title: Defy
Author: Sara B. Larson
Publisher: Scholastic
Pages: 236
Genre: Romance, Adventure, Young Adult
Rating: 4.5/5
Source Netgalley

Alexa Hollen is not an ordinary girl. In fact, for all her friends know, she isn’t a girl.

When Alexa and her twin brother, Marcel’s parents were murdered, the two were forced into lying about their identity, and that “Alex” was actually a girl. Now the twins live in Antion and guard the spoilt Prince Damian. But even though Alex is the best of the guards, she is no match for the powerful sorcerer who kidnaps her, fellow guard Rylan, and Damian, and takes them to Blevon, an enemy country.

The longer they’re held in Blevon, the more secrets are revealed, and Alexa’s is at risk of being divulged. It is only a matter of time before everyone else figures out what she has been hiding for the past 3 years. But there is a bigger problem; King Hector, Damian’s father, has been ruling his land with a cruel heart. An end needs to be put to his reign, but it won’t be an easy task. Alexa will need all the help she can get, but will she be strong enough to protect everyone she loves?

Alexa is an amazing character to read about. I found myself completely captivated as I read about her adventures throughout this book. One thing that I really liked about this heroine is how caring, loyal and brave she is. Not only is she loyal to her friends and family, but Alexa will sacrifice everything she has to save them.

Although the author did a good job presenting Alexa, Damian and Rylan’s characters seem inconsistent. Larson portrays Rylan as a nice, kind and thoughtful boy in the beginning of the book. But after that, it feels as if Larson couldn’t have cared what Rylan did; through the middle and end, Rylan began to fade out of the story and loses importance. Again, in the beginning Larson makes Damian seem as if a spoilt brat, but in the span of a page he becomes a sympathetic and righteous figure. Let me say, this was incredibly hard to believe. How could someone’s whole character change in just a few pages?

‘Defy’ is a splendid book. The relationships between the characters were well thought out, the plot was full of mystery.  There was some interest-piquing suspense, and throughout the story there was always one secret that was hinted at. But my favorite part of the plot is Alexa’s secret. I found it quite exciting reading about how Alexa tried to keep the truth of her gender from her coworkers.

The romance plot in this book was stunning as well. It wasn’t overpowering, but it wasn’t a minor part of the story either. The feelings that Damian and Rylan have for Alexa are clearly portrayed. And then, of course, there is Alexa’s confusion on who she should pick of the two. But even though the love triangle worked exceeding well in ‘Defy’, there was still a part of me that was annoyed Larson had to use such a cliché to bring some romance to this book. Everything else in this book creatively portrayed, yet the structure of the romance is ordinary.

Altogether, ‘Defy’ is an excellent book about a girl who must strive to protect the kingdom she loves. If you love romance, adventure or young adult books this is a book you must read. People younger than 13 won’t want to read this book because of language coupled with the breeding houses and violence that occurs. The next book in this series is to be released in 2015.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Book Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Title: These Broken Stars
Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Publisher: Disney Book Group
Pages: 374
Genre: Romance, Science Fiction, Adventure, Young Adult
Rating: 4/5
Source: Netgalley

Lilac LaRoux has never learned what it truly means to work. Why should she? After all, she is the daughter of the richest man in the galaxy. Everybody knows her name. She’s a princess; one of a kind. And then, there was Tarver Merendsen. He was worth nothing, until he became a famous war hero. But even as popular as he has become, he knows that girls like Lilac are not worth the trouble. However, everything changes when the luxurious spaceship Lilac and Tarver are on is pulled off its course and crashes into the nearby planet. And the only two survivors are Lilac and Tarver.  

Now the two must band together to go seek help, and venture across the land that separates them from safety. But when their last chance of rescue is destroyed, Lilac and Tarver begin to realize that staying on this planet may not be a bad thing after all. Yet, there is something eerie about their new world. Voices, mirages, hallucinations – there is life here, and it’s haunting the two of them. The two survivors might find a way out, but the price of escaping might be too high to risk.

Out of Lilac and Tarver, I have to say that Tarver is my favorite character. Lilac is haughty, spoilt and selfish. Yet somewhere deep insider her, there is a girl who wants to break free of the chains her father has set around her, and it is amazing reading about her struggle to overcome these boundaries . On the other hand, Tarver is kind, calm and collected. Yet through his quiet demeanor, he also does not agree with Lilac’s father, the one who is controlling everything. But besides the first impressions, it is  easier to connect with Tarver than Lilac. Throughout the book, Lilac’s emotions aren’t clearly portrayed and it is hard to see at times what she is thinking. I didn’t have that problem at all with Tarver. Throughout the book his emotions are easy to connect with. And even beyond that, it’s easier to connect with his lifestyle than Lilac’s. He lives a more practical life, while she could have the whole universe if she so desired.

This is a pretty good book. It is unique, has a great plot and has fantastic characters. This story is exceptional because of how smoothly the genres change in the middle of the plot. In the beginning this book seems like an outer space-love fantasy, but towards the middle, it becomes a, haunting sci-fi-romance. I loved how they were stuck on this new planet that nobody had explored. Sure, the fact that only Lilac and Tarver survived was kind of clichéd. But, it was nifty how the whole plot tied together as the mystery of the planet was solved.

One thing I liked about this book was the adventurous plot it had. The mysterious life forms are my favorite part of the book. The details that describe the strange happenings are mesmerizing and as the book progresses that’s the main thing that I’m thinking about. And when you take into account how Lilac and Tarver also have to escape the mysterious forces, this book was full of suspense that had me hooked. Throughout the book, I was anxious to figure out what was going to happen. There are so many possibilities, but in the end, only one can actually occur.

The one thing I didn’t like about this book was the romance plot. In the beginning it was good; you can see the feelings they have for each other. But towards the end in the book the romance plot takes over the whole story. As the book progressed the time spent discussing how Lilac and Tarver would reach their goal decreased, and was just replaced with the feelings the two have for each other. It’s okay to have some romance, but there’s a line which the author crosses, between having a good amount of romance and having so much romance that it takes over the whole book.

For the most part, ‘These Broken Stars’ was an above average read. It had a delightful design and simply splendid characters. This book is probably for people ages 12/13+ mainly because of the death, violence and romance that happens throughout the story. If you like science fiction or love stories, this is a book you will definitely want to try. Don’t miss the second book in this series, ‘This Shattered World’ coming out later this year.
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