Review: Defy the Stars (Claudia Gray)

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Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Series: Constellation #1
Publication date: April 6th, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Malaysia
Page Count: 428

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Buy from Book Depository, Kinokuniya Malaysia

Blurb:
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.

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Now that was a whirlwind.

I have to admit it, I never expected to like Defy the Stars as much as I do now. When I received the book for review, I was a little hesitant to read it. I’ve heard of the book and author (she wrote the Firebird trilogy, great reviews apparently) but I wasn’t too keen on starting another new series. But the Goodreads reviews were considerably alright. And I decided to give this one a go.

Best decision made ever.

Defy the Stars is an epic science-fiction masterpiece by one of the greatest storytellers I’ve ever read. It exceeded all of my expectations, not that I had many to begin with, and even made me fall in love with the characters. Which rarely happens by the way.

It is filled with action, interesting outlook on the human condition, and wildly imaginative scenes that transcends technological advances in robotics today.

Naturally, the science geek in me is super excited.

If you want something fresh, unique and unputdownable, Defy the Stars is worth trying out. Here are more thoughts about the book to convince you further…

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I was quite surprised by how fast the book’s pace is. At every few chapters, the plot quickens and suspense intensifies. As we go on this epic adventure with Noemi and Abel to save Noemi’s world, it’s slowly revealed the many factors that could doom or lead the mission to success. We’re presented with interesting twists and turns that inevitably will grip our attention so hard you’ll miss your stop if you read this on the train. (This almost happened to me by the way…). And just as we’re about to understand Abel’s mechanism and progressive nature, action sweeps in and turns everything we know into chaos.

The one thing I truly loved about Defy the Stars is how religion is infused within the Genesis community. Not in an extreme, overzealous manner. But rather how the balance of faith and technological advance is carried out within the Genesis community. How believing in a God helps you find your inner self and live out the best life you can in ensuring your world is taken care of.

“The opposite of faith isn’t doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty.”

As a Muslim, rarely have I ever encountered a book that described the nature of religion so accurately, despite this being a work of fiction. There were so many questions within the book that got me thinking, and appreciating, the fact that I am a person of religion. And when Noemi described her intentions in finding grace, it fits perfectly what I’m trying to reach as a Muslim.

“When there’s no free will, there’s no sin..”

But in no way is this book about religion per se, but rather how that aspect was incorporated within the book which I found so interesting and very well written.

The ending broke me. I cannot believe it ended in such that it makes me frustrated that the sequel isn’t out yet! Can someone point me in the direction where I can time travel to the future and get my hands on it??

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It was nothing short of amazing the way Gray writes, weaving effortlessly the details of space travel and relative human emotions experienced by Noemi and most importantly, Abel. In the beginning we see these two very different characters bump heads as one mech tries to fight the human. But as the book progresses, we see a side of the mech that we never thought was possible and how this affected his situation in the story. I was pleasantly surprised with how Gray wrote Abel in a way that makes us wonder if robotics can advance to that level of consciousness and humanity?

“Your soul is bigger than your programming.”

Not to mention the friendship these two had was pretty special.

“I thought you were opposed to engaging in prostitution to fund our travels.”
“That’s not what I—is prostitution your answer for everything?”  

I truly enjoyed how this book focused more on Noemi’s struggles to accept what happened in the beginning of the book and how this led to her mission to save Genesis. I’ve always loved books with such strong female characters and Noemi is nothing short of spectacular. A Genesis soldier trained to pilot and fight mechs, she’s resilient, strong, stubborn and brilliant-minded that you can’t help but to root for her cause.

And the fact that this book is not a cheesy scifi novel makes it all the more amazing. Noemi is determined to complete her mission, and whilst she does develop fond feelings towards Abel at the end, I’m glad that didn’t become the entirety of the novel.

The additional characters scattered throughout the book were also so entertaining that I hope we see more of them in the sequel!

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Overall, this was such a wonderful read that I am truly looking forward to what Gray has in store for us in the sequel. I’m hoping we see more of those characters that complemented the story so well, and a less-cliffhanger type of ending!

Have you read the book? What did you think about it and will you read the sequel? 🙂

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Thank you Pansing Malaysia for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review!

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