Title: Defy the Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
Series: Defy the Stars, #1
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Release Date: April 6th 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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My Thoughts On…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.