Middle school students have reading interests that run the gamut from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Twilight. Sometimes as a parent it is hard to know what is age appropriate for your child. Through this blog, I will try to help parents make informed decisions about what is available in our library. I am hoping that this blog will be a resource for our parents, and that we can all work together to make our students life-long readers!

Monday, September 28, 2015


by Sara B. Larson
From the publisher:
"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?"

There were things I loved about this book and things I hated about this book. 

Things I loved: 
*I loved the main character, Alexa! I have read several reviews comparing this book negatively to Throne of Glass , but my problem with that book was that I didn't like the main character, Celaena. In my review of that book, I mentioned that I needed more of Celaena's back story in order to care about her. In Defy , Sara B. Larson gives us a character to root for. We are shown her previous life and why she has been forced to be a fierce warrior. She fights and kills to defend her prince, whose guard she is on. She never glories in the killings. 
*I loved so many of the characters! Alexa's twin brother, who took care of her and protected her. The prince's guard, who shared a wonderful comradery. Lisbet and Jax, and even Tanoori. There were many people to care about in this book. 
*I don't usually appreciate a love triangle, but I really liked both Rylan and Damian, so it was easy to sense Alexa's confusion.
*There was a lot of action and excitement. 
*Secrets, secrets everywhere!

Things I hated: 
*Probably just this one thing, but it is deserving of a whole section. The breeding houses and the continual references to them were very disturbing. There was a whole chapter at the beginning of the book that was so horrific I almost stopped reading. I felt like I needed to take a shower or something to wash the yuckiness off of me. I'm not happy that I have purchased this for my middle school library because that one chapter alone is too intense for middle school.  I read several reviews that called this a "clean read".  Yes, as far as the romance goes, it just involves kissing.  However, references are made throughout the book about all of the rape that goes on to propagate the army. No, no and no. 

There were so many things to love about this book, but I find it hard to recommend because of the violence and the breeding house references. I'm thinking the next book won't have as many concerns for me. I did love the moral at the ending of the book, 

"“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 soul shines with that beauty, radiating it for all who have eyes to see.” 

Areas of concern:
*The above-mentioned rant.
*A couple of the characters are incredibly sadistic, and there is a lot of horrifying violence.
*Kissing while lying in a tent together.
*I don't remember any bad language.

Suggested Ages:
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 12-18
School Library Journal - Grades 8+

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