Title: Defy the Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: April 4, 2017
Star Rating: 4.5 stars
She’s a soldier.
Noemi Vidal is a seventeen years old and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything—including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.
He’s a machine.
Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.
Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true. (source)
THE FOLLOWING REVIEW IS SPOILER-FREE
First of all, I must give a shoutout and a HUGE thank you to Netgalley for sending me an ARC of Defy the Stars (okay, okay, you got me: I won it in an email raffle, but you get my point!)
I’m not going to lie – I expected a lot from Defy the Stars. I absolutely adored Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy. In fact, A Thousand Pieces of You is one of my all-time favorites. That’s a lot of potential for this book to live up to…
and it totally did!
Let’s talk world building for a moment. As in incredible. It was compelling, precise, and easy to understand. The basic structure of this universe is Earth and its colonies. Planet colonies, mind you. Our main character Noemi’s home planet is Genesis, which is determined to secede from Earth and its planet-poisoning ways. That’s where the war comes in, which gives me a strange sense of déjà-vu with its parallels to the American Revolution. Think of Earth as Great Britain and Genesis as the United States in 1776. Only instead of taxes and tea-dumping, there are wormholes and robots. I know. Awesome.
All the scientific stuff was really interesting, from wormholes to blasters, this book knocked out the sci-fi elements, no doubt.
Our first main character Noemi, is just so refreshing. You know the usual fantasy/sci-fi protagonists: kick-but, ruthless, not afraid to punch someone. And that’s perfectly fine. Noemi on the other hand, has that pesky thing that most YA characters choose to shed: a conscience. She always ops to preserve human life, to cause as little damage as she possibly can while still running for her life. Don’t get me wrong, she is hard core, but she also has this constant need to help people, even strangers. She’s brave, compassionate, and unbelievable selfless.
Next we have our “mech” Abel. Mechs are like robots, but aren’t quite like a piece of machinery. Instead they appear to be completely human, with flesh and wiring at the same time. Abel on the other hand, after being in isolation for years, is much more man than machine and I have to say – it was an absolute joy reading from his point of view. Both protagonists have very different voices. Abel is always on the side of logic and probability, with his constant calculations. After all, he is a mech. But, he is still a huge sass-queen and I love him for it. Since he isn’t exactly a traditional mech, he has loads of sarcasm for our enjoyment.
“Abel may give his service to Noemi. He may give his very life for her cause. His programming offers him no other choice.
But if she’s determined to use him up and throw him away, he can at least make sure she doesn’t enjoy it.”
Now onto the fabulous, slow-burn romance. Romance?? But Jordyn, he’s a machine?? Well, you’re only half-right there. Sure, Abel is a mech born from wiring and science, but he’s more advanced than your average robot in really complex ways. For the first half or so, Noemi and Abel barely tolerate each other. Which really lets you focus on the plot and the action! Then, we slowly start to see that awareness of each other. I think the romance developed beautifully, if being a little last-minute on Noemi’s part. I thought their interactions were really sweet once they became friends, even if Abel isn’t the smoothest ladies-man ever:
“‘I’m programmed with a wide array of techniques for providing physical pleasure, via every activity from kissing to more arcane positions for sexual intercourse. Although I’ve never performed any of them before, I’m confident I could do so very skillfully.'”
Something that we definitely don’t see much of in YA that played significant a part in this book was religion. Not in the preachy sense, but Noemi often wondered about God and whether or not she deserved guidance or an entrance to heaven should she die. It actually tied in with the core of Genesis, her home planet.
“‘We all realized we needed to be searching for something more meaningful. Whether we were Buddhist or Catholic, Muslim or Shinto, we all needed to pay more attention to the old teachings. We needed to recapture that sense of responsibility toward the world we’d found. Our faiths gave us the one thing Earth couldn’t give anyone any longer – hope.”‘
My only problem with this book was something that happened near the end. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say that it felt a little bit random and unnecessary. I think it was done in order to set things up for future books in the series, but it could’ve been implemented a bit more smoothly.
With all of that said and done, I can happily give Defy the Stars a wonderful 4.5/5 stars. It seems this book is set up to be a trilogy, maybe more, and I can’t wait to see what happens next with Abel and Noemi!
Another thanks to Netgalley for sending me this e-ARC!
“‘My programming is clear. You are my commander. Unless and until I have another commander, I will protect you no matter what. That means keeping you out of jail. That means fulfilling your mission. That means making sure you have enough to eat. Everything. Anything. I protect you.”‘
Have you bought a copy of Defy the Stars yet? Would it be your first Claudia Gray book, or did you love her Firebird trilogy as much as I did? Tell me in the comments! 🙂
All quotes should be checked against the final copy.