Tuesday, December 16, 2014

{ARC Review} Ignite (Defy #2): Sara B. Larson

Rating: 45%
Series: Defy
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
Page Count: 304
Format: eARC
Source: Edelwiess

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Synopsis: Murder, abductions, and forbidden romance abound in this thrilling sequel to Sara B. Larson's acclaimed YA debut, DEFY.

Alexa remains by the newly crowned King Damian’s side as his guard, ever committed to helping him rebuild Antion and reclaim the hope of Antion's people, despite continuing to harbor a secret love for him. However, when another threat to Damian and his kingdom emerges, and blame is cast on their newly forged allies from Blevon, Alexa knows things are not what they seem. With the fate of her nation hanging in the balance once again, will Alexa be able to protect her king and uncover the true enemy -- before it's too late?

Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. I don't have the most positive feedback for this novel, but I do not wish to deter you from reading it, I merely bring up some important points for discussion about my personal reading experience with Ignite. I obviously don't spoil Ignite, but there will be spoilers for Defy which are unavoidable pertaining to the plot and other literary elements. 

What was my reaction upon finishing?
After all of that, now I HAVE to read the sequel! *stomps foot in frustration*

Background & Backstory 
The first EVER Netgalley ARC I ever received was Defy, the first book in the series. (Click here for my amateur review and thoughts on the first book) My already click-happy self saw it was on READ NOW, the plot looked interesting, it wouldn't come out for another two weeks, and I was eager to be a "big shot" with a galley to review.

Ironically, my first ever Edelwiess galley I ever received is Ignite. I was absolutely terrified of requesting anything from them because of the whole "fill in your own stats" thing. Yet, I got over my fears, and was (obviously) accepted. 

Who knows, maybe the 3rd book in the series will be my first acceptance from a brand-new galley requesting site in 2015!

Originally, I filmed and partially edited a BookTalk, but I deleted it after I realized how bad it was going between two locations with two cameras in three time periods for one 10 minute video.

Neutral | Plot: In my honest opinion, the plot of Ignite was weak. Confusingly enough, its weakness that I picked up on stemmed from one of the PROS of this novel, and that is the fact that the novel was super fast-paced. I felt that it was entirely too dependent on the action and one event happening right after another. Any lull in pace or stopping to describe something seemed to set things off balance.   

Con | Characters: There were six main character this story revolved around, three who were present heavily in Defy, one who became a more important focal-point of the story, and two entirely new ones. Sadly, I felt that the characters we already knew hadn't developed that much despite being put under all of the pressure that was given in the last book.

Alexa - She seemed almost regressive instead of progressive with who she was as a character. We saw that she was truly naive in areas such as love and large-scale decision making. Besides her ability to fight, she wasn't strong emotionally or physically. She thought either ENTIRELY with her head or ENTIRELY with her heart. When I say that, I mean that she either made a decision, damning the consequences for the sake of herself or the people around her. OR she made a decision that was seeming the "best" for her kingdom which ended up harming some of the other characters.

Rylan - There was quite an intense Team Rylan or Team Damian debate going on upon and building up to Defy's release. I never liked Rylan, and Ignite did nothing to redeem him to me. Besides accompanying Alexa on a mission or two (which could easily have been done by somebody else), he seemed to be a plot device, merely put there so friction could be visible between him, Damian, and Alexa.

Damian - You would think that a month with such a high-pressure job would making a leader stronger. Sadly, this was not the case. Damian seemed insecure, weak, and untested... just as a new king would normally appear. What I disliked about him was the fact that we as the READERS saw his weakness, instead of maybe another character picking up on his inadequacies so we could see what the other characters thought about him instead of what we actually thought.

Jax - He plays into this story and the stakes are raised extremely high BECAUSE of him. Therefore, you would imagine that, as a reader, I would feel an overwhelming amount of both sympathy and love for him. The main characters of this novel are doing so much because they want to keep him alive. Yet, I didn't feel/care if anything happened to him.

Vera/Rafe - They are huge parts of the story in a negative way. They are the villains, but instead of either of them being the "villain you love to hate," I merely felt indifferent to them. I was unfeeling for either, and felt that none of them added to the story or brought anything new and refreshing to the table.

Pro | Cover & Title: There could not have been a better cover/title for this novel. The entire book was a buildup and subtle moving under the story's crust for the sequel. There was a spark that ignited with all aspects of the story such as the plot, romance, and world itself which I can't wait to read about in future. The arrow drawn back was a perfect symbol for instigating what is to come. 

Con | Originality: I felt as if Ignite was a strange hybrid mix of Throne of Glass, Graveling, Mulan, Kiss of Deception, Girl of Fire and Thorns, as well as a lot of other popular Young Adult high-fantasy novels of the 21st century. There were bits and pieces taken by all of them and thrown into Ignite. I would have definitely appreciated seeing some more creativity without some of usual tropes such as royalty falling in love with their supposedly "inferiors," as well as the oh-so-popular kidnapping occurrence.

Con | Romance: The entire love triangle I enjoyed in Defy seemed to fall apart at the hinges. It was flimsy, and unrealistic because of how obvious it was who would end up with who. Without spoiling anything, I will say that a semi-concusion was reached and it seemed like a decision made entirely in the spur-of-the-moment and will easily be taken back in the sequel. 

Con | Writing Style: My biggest issue with this novel was the writing style. It seemed entirely Disney-fied because the characters never had friction or conflict and there were so many grand-scale "happily ever after" gestures made. There were so many tropes such as "and I was whole again" throughout the novel which annoyed me to no end. 

On top of that, Alexa had an uncanny ability to detect Damian/Rylan's thoughts through their body language. It seemed entirely unneeded and excess detail. I could see it as an attempt for a rich, detailed story, maybe Larson was even going for a "June Iparis Effect." Yet I felt like her power of perception wasn't utilized properly, because it would have given them so much more of an advantage if she could sense Vera/Rafe.

Pro | Ending: I loved the ending. There was so much potential in the set-up the entire novel seemed to possess. There is going to be progression and characters put to their limits with the sequel, and although it was agonizing for a reader's feels.... it was done right.

Conclusion: I had multiple issues with this novel in writing style, plot, romance, and originality, but there is a lot of potential for the sequel.

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