ARC Review: Defy the Stars

Defy the Stars

Title: Defy the Stars

Author: Claudia Gray

Series: Defy the Stars, #1

Publisher: Hot Key Books

Release Date: April 6th 2017


Five Stars

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.

– Blurb courtesy of

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts On…

…The Plot

“She wants only safety for her world. She wouldn’t kill innocents to win it.
I cannot count as an innocent, Abel decides. Mechs are designed to risk their lives where humans cannot. Otherwise, they’d never have been invented in the first place. They are, by purpose and design, disposable.”

While preparing for the Masada Run, a desperate move by a desperate world to buy them more time, Noemi and the other Genesis soldiers find themselves set upon by Earth mechs. Unprepared for anything like this Noemi is forced into battle before she is ready, and when her friend is injured in the fight Noemi is desperate to do anything to save her. So she boards an abandoned and drifting Earth ship hoping there will be medical supplies on board, not knowing what else is on the ship with her and her friend.

For thirty years Abel has been trapped, staring at the same four walls and hoping someone will come back for him. In the battle, spotted by one of the mechs Abel thinks he is saved, until Noemi blasts the ship and the mech out of the sky. However when Noemi boards with her friend she starts up the generators which allow Abel to escape from his prison. Finally free Abel is able to discover what happened to his creator, who he believes is still on board, and protect him from the Genesis soldier in his midst.

“Do you really believe that?”
“I generally do not believe things. I know facts, or I do not. But yes. I believe in you.”

When he discovers himself truly abandoned Abel’s programming kicks in, and his loyalty is transferred to the highest human power on board the ship; Noemi. After realising why Burton Mansfield’s ship was this side of the Gate Noemi discovers there is another way to close the Genesis Gate, and for good this time, without sacrificing her fellow soldiers in a suicide mission. There is even a mech in her command to give his life to achieve this aim.

Knowing what needs to be done Noemi and Abel travel through the Gates and across the other worlds, trying to find all the pieces they need while desperately trying to outrun a resistance who believes terrorism is the only way to spread their message, two mechs who are determined to bring Abel back to his creator whether he is ready to go or not, a deadly disease, and even time itself as the date of the Masada Run approaches.

One of the things I love about sci-fi books are that you’re thrown into the action from the get go; Defy the Stars is no different. From the second they meet Noemi and Abel are forced into a desperate race across the stars, trying to destroy the Gate before one of the many things working against them catches up. There is a lot happening in this book but the development of the characters and the world was never overshadowed by the plot.

…The Characters

“And as always, she wishes her most secret, most selfish wish:
If only I could explore it all.”

Noemi, at first glance, seems kind of detached from everyone. She volunteers for a suicide mission simply to buy her planet a reprieve from the war, and to stop her best friend dying in her place. But Noemi seems to be a product of her upbringing; she believes she was nothing more than a burden to the Gatsons who took her in after her parents died, she believes in the propaganda Genesis spouts about the war and their role in it, she believes in a faith she’s yet to fully experience for herself.

The journey Noemi goes through, and not just the one through space but the one in terms of her character development, was one of my favourite parts of this book. Everything she sees travelling with Abel to try and save her planets changes her, and while she still agrees that Earth cannot be allowed to take over Genesis she has to wonder if their actions aren’t hurting the people who have been left with nothing and nowhere to go.

“He isn’t supposed to hope. Not like humans do. Yet during the past several years, his mind has been forced to deepen.”

Abel is not like the other mechs. He is unique; made and raised by Mansfield to be something new, and after spending thirty years trapped and isolated aboard the Daedalus he is starting to change in ways even Mansfield couldn’t have predicted. However at his core Abel is still a mech and there are still rules in place regarding his interaction with humans. With his command transferred over to Noemi Abel has no choice but to help, even against his own planet, laying down if life for her if needed.

“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.”

Although he knows he is changing Abel still doesn’t understand all the different ways he is changing, and being the only mech who has some form of free will he is incredibly lonely. The relationship between Noemi and Abel is one that is slow to develop. When the two meet they are enemies, and even after Abel’s loyalty transfers over to Noemi she still doesn’t trust him. Having never encountered a mech other than the ones who attack her people Noemi doesn’t realise how different Abel is to the standard Charlie and Queen models she’s faced on the battle ground. However the more time they spend together, the more she starts to rely on him, she sees him as something different, something more than what Mansfield created him to be.

…The Setting

“These are the ships of the enemy, the planet determined to conquer Genesis and take their lands and resources for its own forever:
The poisoned their own world. Colonized Genesis only so they could move billions of people here and poison it in turn.”

After years of abusing their planet the citizens of Earth are finally paying the price and their world is slowly dying. They have found other worlds they can inhabit but these are reserved for the richest, the smartest, or the strongest citizens, and none of them are as perfect as Genesis is. However after seeing the destruction that has been wrecked on Earth the council refuse to let their own world be destroyed in the same way. As we follow Noemi and Abel on their adventures we get a glimpse up close at the state of affairs on the different planets; life may be perfect for the richest citizens on Kismet but there are many more vagabonds who have been left with nowhere to go. It is not a happy world we are exploring with Abel and Noemi, but it is one that could one day become a harsh reality.

Defy the Stars reminded me what it is I love about the sci-fi genre; from the first page I was hooked and the story ended up taking me to so many places I didn’t know it could go. There were enough twists and turns to keep me interested but never too many that I was lost. All in all Defy the Stars is a wonderful start to a new series, and now I can’t wait for book two.

What did you think of Defy the Stars? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.

All quotes have been taken from an ARC and may differ in the final publication.

29 thoughts on “ARC Review: Defy the Stars

  1. This book sounds fantastic! I’m always on the lookout for a great YA sci-fi and this one seems like it will be a wonderful read. I love series that start off with a bang. The world-building sounds very well-done and the characters also appear to be fairly interesting. I’ll definitely have to add this one to my list! Lovely review, Beth! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh it was amazing. Even better than what I expected which is great because I kind of requested it on a whim! 🙂 This one is now on my list of fave sci-fi books.
      Honestly there was not one thing I would change about this book; everything from the story to the characters to the world I loved.
      I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did Azia, and thanks! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s not a lot of hype around its release but it was a brilliant book, and yeah it’s nice to see sci-fi love for series other than The Illuminae Files (though that is another favourite of mine!)
      The world building was really good, actually everything about this book was amazing.
      Thanks Lashaan! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never been a huge ScFi reader (though there are certainly ones that I have loved and quite a few on my TBR) but this one sounds really interesting and complex. I remember you telling me about this and I actually have it on my TBR after I read the synopsis so I’m definitely going to have to read it at some point. I love the whole concept of different planets and then racing across the stars. Are mechs kind of like robots? That’s got to be an interesting dynamic between the main characters because of the whole loyalty transfer aspect. I’m officially even more intrigued! Great review as always, Beth! 😁💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m more of a newbie to the sci-fi genre myself but all the books I’ve picked up have been amazing and this is really more of the same.
      It’s an amazing book, different from what I expected, but in a good way, and one I enjoyed more than I thought I would as well. I’d definitely recommend this one Melissa.
      Yep, mechs are essentially robots. It’s explained quite well in the book all about them and Abel himself as well. Oh the dynamic between the main characters was kind of hilarious at times, really well written as well in my opinion.
      Thanks so much Melissa! 😀 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve had sci-fi be a bit of a hit or miss for me. There are books that I’ve loved and then those that I didn’t. I think sometimes the details can be overwhelming and even though I love complex I can get lost when it comes to sci-fi. 🙈
        I’m really intrigued by this one though and it seems as if the author did a fantastic job explaining everything in a way that isn’t overwhelming.
        And it’s good to hear that the dynamic between the main characters was hilarious at times. They definitely sound like characters I would love.
        I don’t know if I’ll get around to reading it this year but I will have to read it at some point lol. You’re welcome, Beth!! 😊♥

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh that’s a shame, but have there been more books you loved or more books you didn’t? I get what you mean as well. I get lost sometimes with sci-fi books if they’re too complicated.
        It was a fantastic book, and I wasn’t really lost at all so I hope you’ll won’t be either. Maybe you’ll end up loving it as much as I did! 🙂
        I could have included some hilarious quotes from some of the interaction between them in my review. I kind of wish I had now!
        That’s great to hear! 😀 ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      3. More books that I’ve loved definitely! There’s only been two sci-fi series that haven’t worked for me so far. And one had more to do with the characters to be honest.
        That’s good to hear, that you didn’t get lost while reading it. Given that I think there’s a good chance that I won’t. 😊
        I always have those moments after posting a review when I wish I would have added quotes that I didn’t. 😂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That’s good to hear. I guess it’s also a little good that with one that didn’t work for you it was the characters rather than the plot or the world-building as such.
        I can get lost very easily when books get too technical or long winded with things like that so if I didn’t get lost chances are more than good you won’t either. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, this sounds really good and a little original from other sci-fi stories, I love the way the characters are built, so much potential for this series! Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review, Beth!! I haven’t read anything by this author yet, but this one is first on my list! When I saw the five bright yellow stars, I was thrilled!! I’m glad you loved this one and I hope I love it just as much! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is the first time I prefer the US cover to the U.K. one! I never thought that would happen.
    I’m so lucky I have a galley of this. I really need to pick up my reading game bc I’m reading much slower these days and I’m falling way behind my goal…well, I’m only one book behind my GR goal of 100, but I’ve surpassed that two years in a row! I need to step it up!! 😂
    Glad you liked this! 😘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, I don’t really have a preference for the covers of this book. I like them both actually, but honestly most times I’m the opposite, I prefer the US cover to the UK one.
      I’m sure you’ll be able to catch up quickly enough. One book behind isn’t too bad and I’m more than sure before you know it you’ll be five/ten books ahead of your goal.
      I really hope you enjoy this book as much as I did Stephanie! 😀


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.