Title: Defy the Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Format: E-ARC via Netgalley
Publication Date: 6th April 2017
Noemi is a young and fearless soldier of Genesis, a colony planet of a dying Earth. But the citizens of Genesis are rising up – they know that Earth’s settlers will only destroy this planet the way they destroyed their own. And so a terrible war has begun.
When Noemi meets Abel, one of Earth’s robotic mech warriors, she realizes that Abel himself may provide the key to Genesis’ salvation. Abel is bound by his programming to obey her – even though her plan could result in his destruction.
But Abel is no ordinary mech. He’s a unique prototype, one with greater intelligence, skill and strength than any other. More than that, he has begun to develop emotions, a personality and even dreams. Noemi begins to realise that if Abel is less than human, he is more than a machine. If she destroys him, is it murder? And can a cold-blooded murder be redeemed by the protection of a world?
Stranded together in space, they go on a whirlwind adventure through Earth’s various colony worlds, alongside the countless Vagabonds who have given up planetary life altogether and sail forever between the stars. Each step brings them closer – both to each other and to the terrible decision Noemi will have to make about her world’s fate, and Abel’s
This book was kindly provided to me for honest review by the Publisher via Netgalley. This has not impacted on the content of this review, which it my own honest opinion.
This was my first time reading something by Claudia Gray, though I have heard good things about her other books, and will definitely be checking them out in the future.. The synopsis for Defy the Stars really drew me in, I’ve been looking to read more science fiction, so I was over the moon when I got accepted to read this.
Defy the Stars is told across two perspectives, alternating between Noemi, a seventeen year old soldier from Genesis willing to sacrifice her life for her planet, and Abel, an advanced mech from earth who has been stranded alone on a space ship for 30 years. They are from opposite sides of a conflict between Earth and Genesis, but they are thrown together my circumstance and forced to work together.
This novel is science fiction, well done, in an accessible way. The concepts are solid and interesting, but not overly complicated. Defy the Stars is set several hundred years in the future and there are a handful of different worlds linked by a loop of worm holes. Each of the worlds we learn about are very distinct, with different priorities and lifestyles. I love this sort of thing personally, and here, we are viewing these world through the eyes of a character who has never left her own planet before, meaning we get to discover them with her. This also highlights the state of things for humanity. Earth is dying, its resources have been so stretched, and pollution and global warming have taken their toll. This is the source of the conflict between Earth and Genesis, Genesis is the perfect place for humanity to settle, but it’s people stood against Earth, to protect their planet. They don’t want to make the same mistakes as their ancestors, they repair and recycle over making new things and believe in taking care of their planet. Throughout the course of the story we learn more about what things are like for the other planets, which are less hospitable and can only sustain relatively small populations due to various factors. Everything feels very plausible, from the state of the Earth, to the divide between the rich and the poor, everything feels like it could happen and acts as a commentary on human nature. I really like how we get to see the two different sides and get a decent picture of the situation, and how complicated it is.
While this book has an eventful plot, full of exciting twists and turns, there is also plenty of character development. There is a lot of depth to this book, which made for an enjoyable and engaging reading experience. Not only is there the exciting adventure through space, but there is the deeper exploration of the two main characters getting to know each other, and what it means to be human. Especially since Abel is an advanced AI, with human traits and characteristics, posing questions of is this advanced programing or something more. Both Noemi and Abel are incredible well-formed characters, with distinct voices and motivations, and since they are the only consistent characters throughout the book, as a reader I became quite attached to them.
I would also like to add that in terms of diversity, Noemi is described on multiple occasions throughout the book as being of Chilean decent. On top of that, there are multiple POC characters that are encountered throughout the story. Religion also is a part of the story, Noemi is Catholic, we also learn that religion is encouraged on Genesis, and all faiths are accepted.
Defy the Stars was a truly enjoyable read, striking a perfect (in my opinion) balance between plot and character driven, this book became a favourite for me. I believe there might be a second book planned, (I certainly hope so) which I am already looking forward to. I really liked how the story left off, but there is definitely room for a sequel or companion novel and I would love to spend more time in this world. In fact I will definitely be picking up a copy when it is released and enjoying a reread. I can’t give Defy the Stars any less than 5 Stars, and I highly recommend it.