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Title & Author: Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
Genre: YA, Sci-Fi
Page count: 503
Originally published: April 4th, 2017
Defy the Stars is the first novel in a new space adventure duology from author Claudia Gray. Noemi Vidal is a soldier who would give up everything, including her life or the life of another, to protect her Utopian home world from Earth’s destructive embrace. Abel is a machine—a mech—left alone on a spaceship for thirty years, a span of time and loneliness that has allowed his programming to evolve. The two characters come together in a clash of personality, values, and beliefs in a race to protect a world and people that one calls enemy and the other calls home.
Overall Entertainment Value| Rereader [ ★★★★ ]
Did I enjoy this book? Yes
Do I think the read a waste of time? No
Would I read it again? Yes
Bonus: Will I read the second book? Yes.
*This book gets bumped up a star for gifting me with my new favorite insult: Crapsack.
If you’re looking for something a bit more in depth, a bit more personal, feel free to keep reading. If not, congratulations! That’s it! You’re done! Now, go read a book (or not)!
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.
Character| I was originally annoyed by the callousness of the human character in this book. But, not even halfway through, I began to see the brilliance in writing Noemi’s character that way. The two characters, human and machine, have personalities that clash and bounce off each other brilliantly. Together, they go through experiences that change them in a striking way that brings the heart of this story together wonderfully.
Plot| This book was marketed as more of a romance, but it is so much more than that—the romance takes a back seat in this novel, like a back seat in a high chair, and takes a nap for most of the trip. It’s really not an overbearing part of the story. The plot is driven primarily by character development, which is precisely the only way this story deserved to be written. The only thing I didn’t like about the plot was that I saw the big twist coming a mile away, but it didn’t make the book any less enjoyable because the characters were so great.
Worldbuilding|Defy the Stars crams an entire galaxy into a 500 page novel in the most amazing way. All of that worldbuilding did not bog down the pacing and only served to enhance the story being told. It explored the history, economics, politics, and culture of each world in a way that let you understand the world that Gray created, while also leaving you excited to learn more in the next book. I do wish there had been a little bit more worldbuilding for the individual planets—they each had their own uniform, stand alone cultures that doesn’t serve the human race very well, but that still seems to find it’s way into many YA novels in recent years. That being said, it does fit the story and doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb—at least not enough to irritate me.
Flow| This book has great pacing and we get to see a bit of each world in the whole book. The new settings and cultures, along with the new characters and the adventures on each world, help keep the reader’s attention and definitely do not allow the pace to slow down. That being said, there moments to recover from all of the action that are packed with some great character development for both Noemi and Abel.
Entertainment Value| This book was a fantastic read, one I’m looking forward to reading again and continuing on with in the second installment. Defy the Stars is truly a story about the human experience and it examines that experience in a variety of facets in quite a short span of time. Religious undertones aside, I think this book had some great commentaries on what it means to have a life that is considered valuable and says a lot for how the experiences of joy and pain shape us and knit us together. Claudia Gray gave us a great first book and I’m excited to see where the story goes in book two, which comes out April 3, 2018!
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