I absolutely loved Defy by Sara B. Larson when I read it a couple years ago but finally getting my hands on the sequel, Ignite, was quite a let-down. It’s not that it was a terrible book — it just wasn’t what I expected from the characters I loved in the first one and that was enough to irritate me. Still, never liking to judge a trilogy by the middle installment, I read the final novel, Endure. And I’m so glad I did.
For the first half of the book I felt it was just continuing the themes which had irritated me in book 2, but there was a turning point where I felt an “ah-ha” moment where Larson’s writing choices made sense and I felt, “this is why I liked the first book so much.” I still didn’t enjoy Endure quite as much as I did Defy, but it made the series work.
One thing I love about the Defy series is that it doesn’t blindly follow YA or fantasy stereotypes, especially in the first book. Defy takes place in a jungle instead of the ubiquitous pseudo-European setting, has the best love-triangle I’ve ever read, and even the secondary characters are well-developed and the opposite of cliched. Some of this originality was lost when the second and third book revealed the main character as “the One” (one of my least favorite fantasy cliches, but we needed something to explain why Alexa’s not dead yet).
Overall, I give Defy 5-stars, Ignite 3-stars, and Endure 4-stars. I recommend Defy to all who enjoy YA and/or fantasy novels with strong female leads, and recommend the other two books only if you really enjoyed Defy and need to know what happens next (as I did). You can read Defy as a stand-alone, but if you go farther make sure to read through the entire trilogy.