Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Defy

Defy

Sara B. Larson
Fiction
For ages 13 and up
Scholastic , 2014   ISBN: 978-0545695466

When Alexa and her brother Marcel are only fourteen years old, their village is attacked by Blevonese soldiers. The soldiers commit unspeakable carnage on the village residents, but the sorcerer who comes with them is the one who kills the twins’ parents by burning them with his magic. The king’s soldiers arrive too late to do anything, and they are a threat too because they will round up all the orphans are take them back to the King Hector’s palace, where the boys will be forced to serve as soldiers. The girls face a far grimmer fate, a fate worse than death. They will be sent to the breeding house where they will be assaulted and forced to have baby after baby.

Wanting to protect Alexa, Marcel cuts her hair and Alexa becomes Alex. Her boyish appearance and considerable fighting skills mean that she is taken into the army and in just three years she is a guard that serves to protect Prince Damien, the heir to the throne of the kingdom of Antion. Though Alexa hates King Hector for his cruelty and for waging a war that is destroying Antion, she does not waver from serving his spoiled and sullen son. She does her duty and is such a good fighter that the only thing that is preventing her from becoming the captain of the guards is her youth.

One night, during one of Hector’s many parties, someone attacks the palace. Alexa, Marcel and the other guards go after the assailant and Marcel is killed. Alexa is devastated. She is now alone in the world and no one knows who she really is.

Not long after this shocking event, a young woman attempts to kill the prince, and the king insists that the guards watch Prince Damian every minute of the day. Alexa is given the job of sleeping outside the prince’s bedroom door, and she soon finds out that the young man who seems to care about nothing is not who she thought he was. It would seem that she is not the only person in the palace who has secrets and a secret life. Alexa discovers that the prince is intelligent and sensitive, and he is also disturbingly attractive.

Not long after the assassin’s attack, Alexa is asked to help test the guard candidates. She has no trouble beating all the men who want to join the prince’s personal guard, until only one is left and this time she encounters something that she has never experienced before. The candidate uses some force, some hidden power, to block Alexa’s blows and then he pretends to lose. Alexa is immediately suspicious of the man, who is called Eljin.

Not long after this event, Alexa delivers a message from the prince to the leader of a rebel group. The rebels are the ones who sent the assassin to the palace, and the prince wants them to know that killing him will not stop King Hector from continuing the war against the Blevon kingdom.

At great risk to themselves, Alexa and her friend Ryan deliver the message to the rebels. Not long after they get back, Eljin attacks and Alexa is injured. When she wakes up she finds out that the prince, Ryan, and the girl assassin have all been kidnapped and they are being taken by Eljin, who is a sorcerer, to the kingdom of Blevon. The journey through the forest is long and arduous, and it is during this time that Alexa finds out that both the prince and Ryan know that she is a girl. Furthermore, the prince reveals more secrets about himself that stun Alexa. She does not know what to think. No one is who they seem.

This is a wonderful tale that is touched with adventure, mystery, and romance. As the story unfolds, we come to appreciate that in the dangerous world that Alexa lives in, many people are keeping secrets and seemingly no one can be trusted.

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