Title: Defy the Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
My Rating: 3 stars
This book is a fast-paced sci-fi story following a soldier-girl and an intelligent robot. While it had a premise I was not super keen on to start, this book provided an intense plot, interesting characters and an amusing story, even if that wasn’t the intention.
*I received this free proof copy from a giveaway from Allen & Unwin. I prefer this cover to the original one!*
She’s a soldier.
Noemi Vidal is 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.
This book follows the characters of Noemi and Abel, a soldier and a mech – a specially enhanced robot who has been abandoned for 30 years. As the plot suggests Noemi and Abel cross paths in the battle between Earth and Genesis, and as they begin to discover things about their world and the truth of where they have both come from, they draw closer amongst the craziness.
While I have really enjoyed other pieces of Claudia Gray’s writing, I was very skeptical going in to this book. A robot and a girl. Stuck together. What do we think was going to happen? Oh of course. They are going to get romantically involved. I wasn’t surprised when this happened but I was pleased with the fact it didn’t play a huge role.
I really enjoyed reading from both perspectives as it gave good insight into both Abel and Noemi. Noemi has had a tough life and after losing her best friend, she gets stuck with Abel. Abel on the other hand, has 30 years of catching up to do and dealing with abandonment issues from his creator who he calls “Father”. Seeing both of them on page was really good together but there were some points that were a bit vulgar and unnecessary. I understand that Abel was a robot and wouldn’t have an issue with sex and the idea of prostitution, but was it entirely necessary to have conservations with Noemi about it? It made me feel very uncomfortable and didn’t fit with the feel of the book.
The writing of this book felt very middle grade to me unfortunately, which didn’t fit with some of the conversations that were happening in the book which were young adult. If this book is meant to be middle grade, the conversations above would definitely not be appropriate. It took over 100 pages to feel like I was in the swing of the book, which isn’t ideal as I very much could have put it down at any point and not returned to it. I also felt as though at the beginning there was a lot of explaining about how the world worked and I didn’t understand. Perhaps, if it was a bit less forced and more natural it would have made more sense? It felt quite untidy to me.
I did love the rebellion that was happening and would have loved to learn a bit more about that. With environmental issues being a big concern for the future, I loved seeing how this was imagined in this book and the war that would result from this. I’m still a little confused about how the war was truly manifesting itself and wish this could have gone into more detail but I hope in future books this will be explained.
Another thing I also really loved was learning more about Abel. Despite feeling skeptical that he was a robot, seeing the character progression in him and learning what truly happened to him was really great and I thought it was a great plot twist (no spoilers!)
The book ended well and unexpectedly and definitely leaves you wondering what will happen in the next book.
I am a huge fan of Claudia Gray’s other series The Firebird and will definitely continue to follow the books that she writes, even though I was slightly disappointed with this one. I definitely encourage you to check out her other books!
Recommended for: If you enjoy sci-fi books with some interesting concepts, then I would recommend this book for you.
Quotes (Spoiler Free):
“I thought you were opposed to engaging in prostitution to fund our travels.”
“That’s not what I—is prostitution your answer for everything?”
“Please stop sniffing the robot boy, Noemi tells herself, jerking out of the trance.”
“Where there’s no free will, there’s no sin.”
“Esther would tell her to dance faster, leap higher, to laugh out loud with all the breath in lungs. That’s what the dead would tell the living, if they could—to grab hold of joy whenever it comes.”
If you have read this book let me know what you think! I’d love to hear your thoughts.