Goodreads rating: 3.56
Format: ARC from Publisher
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?
******WARNING!! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SOME MILD SPOILERS!! AVOID READING PAST THE "****SPOILERS******" SIGN********
Let me start by saying that if you are expecting this to be like the Disney Mulan story, look somewhere else because you will be disappointed. I've seen a lot of reviews for this book and most of the bad ones are because they are expecting a mulan-like story and that's not what this book is. Yes it has a girl dressed up as a boy in the army but that's pretty much where the similarities end. I think people will enjoy the book more if they don't compare it to Mulan.
With that being said, this was a pretty good book. The characters and the plot were descent (even if it was more of a love story than I usually like.)
******SPOILERS********* I do wish the main character, Alexa, hid herself better (since most of the characters figured out she wasn't a boy. Really was hoping for a big reveal), but I don't think she's a weak heroine like some other reviews say. ********SPOILERS*******
Like I said before, people have a habit of comparing this book to Mulan. But let's be honest... Mulan eventually developed feelings for Shang. Sure Alexa develops feelings for the men around her and to a point she does suppresses her feelings but come on... she's human. Girls are attracted to boys. All her female reactions just helped make her more realistic to me. And for all the people who are complaining because Alexa didn't hold down her female-ness around boys (like blushing around boys with their shirts off) like Mulan... Did we forget the part where Mulan compliments Shang on being a good captain with her silly girly lovey smile??
However, on that note, it kind of started to bother me how much Alexa said she was attracted to Damian... Like to the point where I was thinking, "OK we get it already! He's hot! You don't need to point it out every time you see him!" I also really kind of wished she played hard to get a little more... Like give them something to fight for! (Though in the end she made me proud :) ) The romance stuff kind of pushes my nerves. It is a little more than I like in a book but not enough to make me dislike the book.
With the love triangle that emerges in the book, it really kind of made me think of Throne of Glass (badass heroine who can fight, has the attention of the prince and a guardsman... but that's really where the similarities end). It mostly made me wish that Alexa was more like Celaena in her attitude, her ability to control her emotions and always one step ahead of everyone else. Granted, they have different backgrounds but for three years of pretending to be a boy, I assumed she would be able to better control herself.
The last thing I want to mention... is the breeding house. It is a little bit of a touchy subject. This book would probably be best for older YA's with the rape talk that is involved. Although it made me uncomfortable, it went to show how truly horrible the king/kingdom was. They didn't go into way too much detail about the house but enough detail where you did read about what went on in the house and girls being brought in.
Overall, there were a lot of mysteries and secret plots which kept the story interesting. The romance was a little much at times but it wasn't too much to look over. The ending was nice; not great but not horrid. It made me wonder what the next book will be about since there aren't a lot of hints. The plot was a pretty interesting fantasy YA but the overbearing romance in it kind of killed it for me.
The Court's Decision: