Author: Sara B. Larson
Publisher: Scholastic Press, 336 pages
Publication Date: January 7, 2014
*Received ARC from publisher via NetGalley
A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.
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?
I enjoyed this book. It's a fun, fast-paced adventure with Alexa/Alex masquerading as a boy, assigned to protect the prince. Her family is killed when she's fourteen and she pretends to be a boy because all orphan girls are forced to become breeders in order to increase the population of fighters for the king's army.
Alexa is quite the badass, she's actually the best fighter in the prince's guard. Her brother has helped her the last three years in keeping her true identity a secret (what a great brother, he's always looking out for her). I enjoyed the political intrigue, action scenes, and the magic. I also loved the unfolding story of Damian, the lazy spoiled prince who is keeping secrets and who is definitely not what he appears to be.
However, the romance was a bit lacking. I didn't really care that much for Rylan, and, in fact, his character seems a bit unnecessary. I wish we could have seen more interactions between him and Alexa before we find out how he feels about her. I also didn't completely buy Damian's feelings for Alexa, it seemed quite sudden given they didn't seem like they really knew each other. A slow-building relationship would have been much more believable. And Alexa becomes so girly at certain points, constantly obsessing over Damian and Rylan that I felt like shaking her and telling her to get a grip.
In the end, an entertaining, action-packed fantasy with a tough heroine. And the ending...quite surprising, especially what happens to Alexa. Gutsy move on the part of the author, I'm interested to see what happens next.
Posted by: Pam