In debut novelist's Larson's riveting fantasy, the tropical nation of Antion is at war, and 17-year-old Alexa has disguised herself as a boy in Prince Damian's royal guard to avoid the nightmarish "breeding houses" that await her as a girl. When a visiting sorcerer kidnaps the prince in hopes of ending the war, Alexa becomes collateral damage. Learning of the dangerous hypocrisy of the nation's leaders, Alexa relies on her extraordinary fighting abilities to protect both the country and the prince she is beginning to love. An additional romantic entanglement contributes little, but Alexa is nothing if not resourceful. As a fighter surviving in a brutal world in which magic plays a sinister role, she relies on her own skills, perceptions, and determination to battle her way to the book's cinematic finale. Alexa's desire to reclaim her gender identity under her own terms ("I still wished things could be different. I wished I could be a member of the guard and a girl") gives the story much of its emotional sincerity and psychological depth. Ages 12–up. Agent: Josh Adams, Adams Literary. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/16/2013 Release date: 01/07/2014 Genre: Children's
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