“In three weeks, Noemi Vidal will die-here, in this very place. Today is just practice.”
-Claudia Gray, Defy the Stars
Hey guys! Do you have your shame bell ready? Because I STRUGGLED reading this one at first. And by that, I mean getting around to it! When the monthly Hot Key Books newsletter came around, I went all heart-shaped eyes at the pretty, spangly cover and pastel coloured galaxies and then… It sat on my review pile for way too long! Why? Because my mood to read Sci-Fi in is a very particular mood that I can never seem to get myself into enough. When I do read it, I usually love it though! Happily, Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray was one of those books. (You can all sigh in relief now).
Defy the Stars switches between the dual POVs of Noemi, a 17 year old soldier from Genesis, and Abel, a one of a kind mech from Earth that was designed as a prototype and now appears to be evolving past his programming.
Earth is not doing too well in this book. As to be expected, there are severe problems on the planet and many years ago, they were forced to start colonies on other planets. Now Genesis, a colony planet, is rising up, determined not to let Earth destroy them the way they destroyed themselves. When something goes wrong and Noemi collides with Abel, she soon realises that his knowledge and skills have the key to something big, something that could save Genesis. And Abel, stranded alone on a spaceship for 30 years has no choice but to obey his programming and serve her. But Abel is growing a personality, experiencing his own emotions and dreaming, making Noemi realise that Abel has evolved past the point of being just a machine some time ago now.
Although this book is marketed quite strongly as a romance, it isn’t a very romantic book-there is a long, slow build up and it never overshadows the plot. I found this quite refreshing and liked how the book focused on the plot and the debate of Abel’s consciousness, along with the implications of rebellions and violence. Defy the Stars is one of those books that makes you question a lot while you’re reading it, as it keeps presenting you with fresh moral dilemmas and characters that challenge each other constantly.
The plot is very fast-paced and once I’d picked it up, I was flying through the pages! Prepare yourself for some addictive reading.
As Abel and Noemi are stranded in space together, they go on the equivalent of a space road trip through the different colony worlds, and this was where things really got exciting. Claudia Gray’s world building was fantastic and one of my favourite parts of this novel! The different colony worlds were presented as fully fledged worlds, each world different and running in its own rhythms. Seeing characters from the different worlds and stepping into a different life for each world kept me enthralled-it was fascinating reading about daily life on other planets!
Of course, running throughout the core of the book, we have the deep and dark decision that Noemi is thinking on. One that will affect both the fate of her world and Abel’s future. If she’s responsible for his death, does that make it murder? And if so, what stakes would make murder okay? Having this problem presented to us at the start of the book made the developing relationship between Noemi and Abel even more poignant as it’s set against Noemi’s impending decision.
I loved that Noemi was a brave character-she was a soldier and smart and strong as well, but it was her bravery that really stood out to me. She wasn’t fearless, but she would act fearless for the sake of her planet and the people that she cares about. It was also very interesting to read the chapters from Abel’s point of view. As what is essentially a highly advanced robot that is continually evolving on his own accord, it was intriguing to get an insight into his mind and thought processes. The snark between the two of them was entertaining, and I really enjoyed how much dialogue there was between Noemi and Abel.
Defy the Stars is the first book in what I believe is going to be the Constellation duology (I could be wrong on that, sorry), and the UK paperback is 425 pages, making it a chunkier read to binge, but well worth it if you do! I’m giving this one 4/5 stars and a recommendation to read for fans of YA Sci-Fi, particularly if you enjoyed Illuminae, you’ll like this! Darker and deeper than your average YA Sci-Fi, Defy the Stars is thought provoking and addictive!
Has anyone else read this one? What did you think? Are you fans of YA Sci-Fi?
Thank you all for reading and a big thank you to the lovely people at Hot Key Books for sending me this copy to review!