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Howdy YAL!

I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies. 

A Mulan Wannabe

Defy - Sara B. Larson

In 1998, Disney introduced a character considered by many to be their best princess*

Mulan was tough, took action, and for despite the culture stereotypes that Disney made about medieval China, it was a fairly decent movie.


So, a YA book that has a Mulan edge should be a total slam dunk, right?


The whole girl dressing as a boy thing has worked many times before in mainstream romance and everyone knows that every over critical book blogger and their coblogger hates a damsel in distress.  So, a girl being an expert swordsman hiding out from a life full of oppression should be an automatic slam dunk, right?


Sigh, as Shang said before he sang “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” this book has a long way to go.


Okay, I know I’m not outright quoting him, but still.


When I think about Defy I think of Disney.  Obviously, because of the Mulan ripoffs.  But that’s not the only reason I think of Disney.  I think of Disney because of the tropes that ruin this book were reminicent of a Disney movie.  Or to put it in better terms, a Disney knockoff.


Oh, you remember those Disney knockoffs.  Those movies that would inedibly come to video right after your favorite animated Disney movie hit the big screen, so you could watch another fucked up version of a fairytale but with crappy animation and shitty voice actors.


Those were the days, being a child and being ripped off.  And even though you were only seven, you always knew when you were being ripped off.  Because you were always like what the hell did you do to Aladdin, or Belle, or in this case Mulan.

To be fair though, Defy doesn’t outright copy Mulan.  It tries to have it’s own world.  Complete with rape houses.


Rape houses in a YA book.


Ah, yes.  Actually.  And they serve no purpose, so I don’t know why the editor gave the green light to keep them in there.  I mean, people will rant about the littlest things in YA today, but rape houses totally get a pass.


Uh huh.


Well, what sets this one apart from Mulan besides the fact there are made up countries and rape houses.  Well, Mulan actually tried to be a solider and had some success.  Alexa were told is the best and she just practically pants over a prince that is supposedly an asshole.  But since he looks like a combination of Prince Eric and Prince Naveen it’s a-okay to stare at those abs.


As droll as that sounds, I thought that there might actually be some potential here when old Princey shows interest in Alex when she’s pretending to be a boy.  I really wish they would’ve had the prince fall in love with Alex (Alexa’s boy persona) rather than Alexa.  Having good old princey be gay or bi, would’ve been an interesting plot twist, but instead he knew Alexa was a girl all along.


So, where’s the damn plot then?


Really, that’s what I asked myself.  The whole thing felt rushed and almost cheated because they decided to have princey know all along. So, the reveal scene was obvious very meh at best.  As for the rest of the plot.  What plot?  Really it was just Alexa moaning about two boys.


Oh, yeah, this one has a love triangle in it as well.  Even though the other guy (the better choice, in my opinion) is completely undeveloped and Alexa shows no feelings towards him while mooning over prince asshole.


Gah, she really is such an asshead.


You know, I complained about Scarlet, but at least with that book there was a plot.  It might have not been much of a plot, but it was a plot.  The love triangle was annoying there, but somehow it worked better there than here because there was an attempt at a plot.


In Defy, the plot and everything else took second stage to the romance to the point these things barely even existed.  It almost seems like Larson only had the romance planned when initially planned the book and then through everything that seemed remotely popular into it.


Because everything is just thrown in there and never really any explanation is given to what’s going on, it just doesn’t work.  After finishing the book, I still don’t understand why there’s a  rape house, what the point of the sorcerers were, and why Alexa was so f-ing dumb.


However, I am not going to wait to the next book to find out.  Because I will not be reading the next book.  I think the only saving grace this book has is that it’s not Big Fat Disaster and I read this book after I read Big Fat Disaster.  I am giving it a star a sing star out of ten or what is equivalent to an F+.  That my friends is sad.


* I am still Team Belle, sorry can’t help it.

Source: http://howdyyal.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/defy-sara-b-larson