I picked up the first book, Defy, on a whim and completely devoured it. While I had my issues with it, the story itself was very quick paced. The series is very Mulan-like in the fact that our main character, Alexa, cross-dresses as a male in order to be in the army. However, that is when the similarities change. Not only is Alexa the best fighter there is, she also is part of the prince's guard. Things go awry when Alexa, Prince Damian, and Rylan all get captured. Our main character is consequently thrown into a world she never new existed. Alexa was hard to like at times due to her thought process, but that has vastly improved in the next two books.
My main issue throughout the series was the decisions that Alexa made on her own. She often keeps vital information to herself. Though she still makes some irritating decisions in the third book, she is more reasonable. One of Alexa's biggest flaws as a character is that she is rash, but I think Larson overdid it a bit. Alexa is not just rash at times, but stupid. She decides to not tell people a secret because she is worried of their reaction, when not telling them only gives them more danger.
Defy was a fun start to the series. Though I only gave the first three stars, it does not mean that I like it. Ignite on the other hand, completely blew away my expectations. I actually had less expectations from the first one just because of second book syndrome. However, I enjoyed the second one, Ignite, a lot more. The stakes were raised and the end left the third book to be highly anticipated without being an obnoxious cliffhanger. The final book in this trilogy by far is the best. While I gave the second book 3.5 stars, Endure received 4.25 stars for me!
Another issue I had throughout the series was that it didn't really influence me that much until the last book. There were some characters that I felt were never fully fleshed out, and for that reason the novels didn't hold as much of an impact. I really appreciated the fact that the heroes in the story had their faults and weren't perfect. However, the villains were just completely evil through and through. There wasn't really anything that humanized them, so they weren't as believable. The world building was also a little shaky when Larson tried to expand it in Ignite and Endure. I did get a couple answers to my questions, but a lot of the foundation of the world was vague.
I didn't necessarily feel for the characters in Defy, but I started to in Ingite. By the time Endure rolled around, I empathized for every single one of them. Sara B. Larson even made me start to love Rylan, a character that annoyed the crap out of me sometimes. Like I mentioned above, there were some characters that I felt weren't as fleshed out. I would have love to spend more time with Jax for one, a young boy who is wrapped up in this world that we barely see at all in the concluding novel.
What really took me by surprise was how dark this series became. The first book itself wasn't a light fluffy read, but it is in comparison to the final one! There were several big deaths throughout the series, but several that I never saw coming in Endure. In fact, I had to double check that I was reading right when one of my favorite characters died! It really says something when an author can surprise me that much. I can normally guess deaths and twists, so I was happy that I was caught unaware.
Self love was an overarching theme to the whole entire series. We travel with Alexa throughout the whole book, and she gets some pretty nasty scares along the way. The main plot was about an evil kingdom threatening Alexa's home and prince. Even though that caught my attention, what kept it were the overall questions. The series analyzes the essence of beauty and love and what they truly are. The answer I got from the trilogy was really heart warming and eye opening. I loved that Alexa grew as a character not only in strength and conviction, but also in acceptance of who she truly is, scares or not.
In all, the series got better as it progressed. It didn't suffer from second book syndrome, and the series as a whole artfully faced some hard questions without being too dreary. The trilogy was fast paced and I never wanted to put it down. The first book didn't blow my mind, but the series as a whole left me very content. I even cried a couple times in the final installment. Larson's trilogy isn't my favorite by any means, but I am grateful that I read it.
With that I give this series
3.6 out of 5 Stars!
Here's the rundown:
Defy: 3 Stars
Ignite: 3.5 Stars
Endure: 4.25 Stars
Have you read the Defy series? What did you think?
Thanks for stopping by and I'll see you soon with another post!
Genni @ Ready, Set, Read!