The Reaper Returns in a Breathtaking New Trilogy: a Review of Iron Gold by Pierce Brown

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Science Fiction
Publisher: Hodder Books
Publication date: January 16th, 2018
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 626

Series: Iron Gold #1 (Spin-off series from Red Rising trilogy)

Red Rising Trilogy reviews:
#1 Red Rising
#2 Golden Son
#3 Morning Star

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They call him father, liberator, warlord, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the pale blue planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-second of his life.

A decade ago, Darrow was the hero of the revolution he believed would break the chains of the Society. But the Rising has shattered everything: Instead of peace and freedom, it has brought endless war. Now he must risk everything he has fought for on one last desperate mission. Darrow still believes he can save everyone, but can he save himself?

And throughout the worlds, other destinies entwine with Darrow’s to change his fate forever:

A young Red girl flees tragedy in her refugee camp and achieves for herself a new life she could never have imagined.

An ex-soldier broken by grief is forced to steal the most valuable thing in the galaxy—or pay with his life.

And Lysander au Lune, the heir in exile to the sovereign, wanders the stars with his mentor, Cassius, haunted by the loss of the world that Darrow transformed, and dreaming of what will rise from its ashes.

Red Rising was the story of the end of one universe, and Iron Gold is the story of the creation of a new one. Witness the beginning of a stunning new saga of tragedy and triumph from masterly New York Times bestselling author Pierce Brown.

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Warning: Spoilers from Red Rising Trilogy.

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“Men call him father, liberator, warlord, Slave King, Reaper. But he feels a boy as he falls toward the war-torn planet, his armor red, his army vast, his heart heavy. It is the tenth year of war and the thirty-third of his life.”

Iron Gold is the first installment in the new trilogy that takes place 10 years after the Red Rising trilogy ends, and it turned out to be a thrilling, action-packed read which exceeded my initial expectations of the book. I would recommend refreshing your mind of the events that took place in Golden Son and Morning Star in preparation to read Iron Gold.

Iron Gold changed the entire paradigm of the story set by PIERCE BROWN in the original trilogy, where it ended on an optimistic note for better efforts in abolishing enslavement and caste system. But Iron Gold now questions the efforts and lives required to rebuild humanity after a 700-year-old colonialism was shattered to pieces. The story finds us reunited with Darrow and the Republic which is now led by Mustang, alongside many old and new characters bound to get you emotionally attached.

The backstory of Iron Gold is the fight to retain all sense of peace and justice after 10 hard years of effort which doesn’t seem to be as fruitful as everyone hoped. How far must we go to save the future generation from history’s clutches of injustice and never-ending jaws of war? And just how many must be sacrificed for the future? As I read Iron Gold, I started questioning past decisions and war efforts that occurred in Red Rising trilogy to have had the inevitable consequences seen in this book. It’s pretty amazing how Iron Gold is so relevant in today’s political climate and the racial tensions we witness, which is what Brown was aiming to represent.

“After ten years of war, I no longer believe in moments of peace.”

Plot-wise Iron Gold started off very shaky, and surprisingly similar to Red Rising, Brown took a very long time to set all the foundations of the story. You might want to mentally prepare for it as the story gets very long-winded before it all starts to make sense. But towards the end, the plot was truly phenomenal. You’ll never know where the story is headed. And as with all adult scifi novels, always pay attention because bread crumbs are left in various places throughout the book.

I’d say Iron Gold did a wonderful job in kick-starting a new spin-off series, despite the uncertain start. And most of this is attributed to the fact that it has a new style of character POVs which I truly enjoyed. We saw everything from Darrow’s eyes in the original series, but in Iron Gold a cast of new characters spread across the Solar System give us new eyes into the past 10 years and what the future might hold. I love how 2 of these characters played such minor parts in the original series are revived to become essential elements and plot-influencers in Iron Gold.

“But history is so often molded from tainted clay by those who remain.” 

Overall, Iron Gold is a wonderful scifi book which I’d recommend to all scifi lovers.

Iron Gold has all the makings of an amazing scifi novel: badass characters, crude jokes, phenomenal plot twists, lots of deaths and space voyage beyond our imagination.

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Thank you Pansing Books for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review.


A Love Story Set Light Years Away: a Review of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

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Science Fiction Young Adult
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication date: September 7th, 2017
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Malaysia
Page Count: 290

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Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away?

Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J.

Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.

But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean?

Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone.

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Warning: mild spoilers from the book!

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“Another ship. It’s the best news I could ever have imagined.

Who are they going to send? Who’s coming?

I stare out of the helm window, straining my eyes against the infinite blackness, pressing my fingernails into my palms so hard they sting. I can’t see anything except the silver pinprick stars.

How long until I’ll be able to see The Eternity?

How long until it will be able to see me?”

Before I start this review, you should know that I have really high expectations for scifi reads, be it in YA or Adult category, due to the nature of my job as a chemical engineer. So naturally, I’d enjoy scifi novels which take great care to provide its readers with impeccable details to complement the plot and characters within the book.

That said, I found The Loneliest Girl in the Universe to fall short within my initial expectations. While the writing was good, the plot and characters involved fell a bit too bland for me. I understand that YA Scifi doesn’t really dwell into plot details or the general space conditions but rather more on the character developments. I compared The Loneliest Girl in the Universe to Claudia Gray’s Defy The Stars and Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae, and The Loneliest Girl in the Universe fell behind to be honest.

To begin with, I wished there were more pages to the book. At just 290 pages, it felt too short for a scifi novel where the author was being safe in keeping Romy where she is and the plot that she maintained for the book. The plot was very simple: Romy a 17-year-old girl finds herself as the last surviving human on board The Infinity, on its was to Earth II to begin a new civilization. After 6 years alone, NASA sends a new manned shuttle, The Eternity to aid in her mission. Naturally, Romy finds herself falling in love with J, the lone crew on board The Eternity. While it made sense why Romy would fall in love with J via emails (she did spend 6 years alone after all), the rest of the book did not make sense or excite me.

The author didn’t do a good job in tying up the details of the book. It didn’t make sense for J to be the only person on this one-man mission who claimed he got to work with NASA because he knew someone on the inside. And when the plot revealed the ending, it also didn’t make sense that NASA would send someone like J on such an important mission.

I  wasn’t a big fan of how the author focused a lot on Romy’s feelings towards J. Ultimately the book became a love story where Romy’s strong personality got lost in the plot. I kind of knew there was going to be a love plot from the blurb, but I would have loved to know Romy more in detail, minus her all lovey-dovey for J. Instead of J and his sketchy personality, I was more interested in how Romy survives the loneliness and despair of living alone for the past 6 years. But long after the book ended, Romy’s character wasn’t very memorable for me. I know some people thought her as strong and independent to have gone through what she did, but I didn’t really see that while reading the book.

The plot only became interesting at the last 70 pages of the book when the story took a twist. But the pages before that were really dull for me. The ending of the book actually made The Loneliest Girl in the Universe seem more like a psychological thriller than a scifi. And I’m beginning to believe that thriller might be a better genre for The Loneliest Girl in the Universe. There was little mention of how space felt like to Romy or how The Infinity was built, so my cravings for science details were not satiated with this book.

Overall, not the best YA scifi I’ve read. I’m beginning to think this genre might not be for me after all. If you’re big on cliche YA love plots with an unexpected twist, give The Loneliest Girl in the Universe a try! But if you’re expecting a high-packed drama set in space, give this one a pass and maybe try Defy The Stars!

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Thank you Pansing Malaysia for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review.

From The Grounds They Conquered: a Review of Morning Star by Pierce Brown

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Science Fiction
Publisher: Haddor Books
Publication date: February 9th, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 520

Series: Red Rising Saga #3

Review of Red Rising Saga #1 here.
Review of Red Rising Saga #2 here.

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Red Rising thrilled readers and announced the presence of a talented new author. Golden Son changed the game and took the story of Darrow to the next level. Now comes the exhilarating conclusion to the Red Rising Trilogy: Morning Star.

Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society’s mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied—and too glorious to surrender.

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Warning: Mild spoilers from the Red Rising and Golden Son.

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“The Reaper has come. And he’s brought hell with him.” 

There are only two words to describe how I feel about Morning Star: BLOODYDAMN AMAZING

Darrow brought hell like he promised. And with him, the Howlers have his back. I can’t wrap my head around how mind-blowing Morning Star was. The book picks up a year after Golden Son ended. And with that horrific cliffhanger we saw in Golden Son, I do suggest you have Morning Star ready at hand to dive into straight after.

It is none stop high action drama from the first page, up until the end. Morning Star
brings even more characters into the series to join forces with Darrow and the Sons of Ares. It brings in more complicated plots and unexpected twists, and your attention to details are key to understanding how the series unravel at the end.

Like the previous two books in this series, Morning Star is filled with memorable characters, unforeseen plot twists and many scenes questioning humanity and what we must sacrifice in order to create a better, newer generation. I’ve always been disturbed with The Society’s concept of hierarchy and enslavement, in which Darrow’s quest to banish succeeds in gluing our eyes to the pages.

“You and I keep looking for light in the darkness, expecting it to appear. But it already has.” I touch his shoulder. “We’re it, boyo. Broken and cracked and stupid as we are, we’re the light, and we’re spreading.” 

The plot extends beyond Mars and its moons, where we see more of Jupiter and the Moon Lords of the Rim. I internally screamed and howled so many times throughout the book. The epic conclusion gripped my heart so hard, and I knew this is a  series that will stay long with me.

Additionally, the characters have their own personalities and agendas, contributing a great deal to the plot and towards Darrow’s character development. Each character you meet will have an impact on you, and just like Pax’s deaths in Red Rising, they’ll break your heart in Morning Star. That said, I suggest you emotionally prepare for it.

Overall, this series has met my initial expectations and exceeded it beyond more. The Red Rising Saga has been my first scifi series and it definitely did not disappoint. Over the course of six years, we see Darrow become a great man of many powers and learn the true meaning of humanity in the family he has created in his journey. Red Rising Saga portrays everything that makes scifi great: conspiracies, politics, drama and high action.

“I always thought I would die before the end. I trudged on knowing I was doomed. But my friends have breathed love into me, breathed my faith back into my bones. They’ve made me want to live.” 

An epic conclusion to an amazing scifi series, Morning Star will have you weeping at the end and throughout the book as the Sons of Ares rage towards a war on saving humanity’s last hope for a better, brighter future for all.

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The Son of Ares Returns: a Review of Golden Son by Pierce Brown

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Science Fiction
Publisher: Haddor Books
Publication date: January 6th, 2015
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 430

Series: Red Rising Saga #2

Review of Red Rising Saga #1 here.

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As a Red, Darrow grew up working the mines deep beneath the surface of Mars, enduring backbreaking labor while dreaming of the better future he was building for his descendants. But the Society he faithfully served was built on lies. Darrow’s kind have been betrayed and denied by their elitist masters, the Golds—and their only path to liberation is revolution. And so Darrow sacrifices himself in the name of the greater good for which Eo, his true love and inspiration, laid down her own life. He becomes a Gold, infiltrating their privileged realm so that he can destroy it from within.

A lamb among wolves in a cruel world, Darrow finds friendship, respect, and even love—but also the wrath of powerful rivals. To wage and win the war that will change humankind’s destiny, Darrow must confront the treachery arrayed against him, overcome his all-too-human desire for retribution—and strive not for violent revolt but a hopeful rebirth. Though the road ahead is fraught with danger and deceit, Darrow must choose to follow Eo’s principles of love and justice to free his people.

He must live for more.

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Warning: Mild spoilers from the first book, Red Rising.

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“For seven hundred years, my people have been enslaved without voice, without hope. Now I am their sword. And I do not forgive. I do not forget. So let him lead me onto his shuttle. Let him think he owns me. Let him welcome me into his house, so I might burn it down.” 

Golden Son picks up 2 years after Red Rising ends where we find Darrow as a lancer for House Augustus. He’s building his way up to power in Augustus’ clan in order to bring more information to the Sons of Ares.

Golden Son is filled to the brim with non-stop action and unexpected twists. With more characters introduced in the book, we see Darrow’s circle of comrades increasing as he is shown their loyalty and their true intentions.

Golden Son expands a little bit further beyond Mars and its inhabitants. Whilst Red Rising mostly dealt with Darrow’s survival in The Institute, things get deep-shit serious pretty quickly in Golden Son. Within the first few chapters, a huge battle takes place between Darrow and Karnus au Bellona, Cassius’ older brother, killing hundreds of people. That’s the intensity of Golden Son. Pierce does not hesitate to imply conflict and deaths to bring a huge impact to the overall storyline. And that is what you can definitely expect in Golden Son.

We see more of Darrow’s leadership and after a feud with Nero au Augustus, the plot becomes amazingly brilliant with Darrow plotting his way back into the Gold’s elite circle. With battles and plot twists at every corner, the scheming and political strategies are on a different level in Golden Son. Darrow becomes more intelligent in planning his excursion in The Society but he begins to question his morality as he forms several close bonds with his Gold Howlers. It was a wonderful experience to see Darrow’s humanity in all the chaos of war.

“Friendships take minutes to make, moments to break, years to repair.” 

The new cast of characters thrown into Golden Son has got to be my favourite aspect of this book. We see more of Mustang, Tactus, Roque, Sevro and even the Jackal who eventually play huge roles in the entire saga. Seeing these characters develop throughout the book into their full potential, be it evil or otherwise, is nothing short of brilliant.

Just like Red Rising, Golden Son is full of many hints and battles. Paying attention is key to enjoying the book. This is a book meant for matured readers, not in a sexual content, but rather the complex machination of war and deception that takes place. That said, if you love figuring out what Darrow’s next step is to bring down the Golds, you will enjoy Golden Son immensely.

With new characters and more space exploration beyond Mars, Golden Son takes us on a journey of friendship, love and the fight for justice like never before.

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And Man Shall Rise From the Dirt: a Review of Red Rising by Pierce Brown

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Science Fiction
Publisher: Haddor Books
Publication date: January 28th, 2014
Format: Paperback
Source: Personal
Page Count: 382

Series: Red Rising Saga #1

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Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity’s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society’s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies… even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

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The Red Rising Saga has been recommended to me countless of times ever since I took a serious interest in the genre science fiction and fantasy earlier this year. And I must thank those in the amazing book community for recommending this series, because I am obsessed with Darrow and the Society that rules all of mankind in the Solar System.

Red Rising started off with Darrow in the deep mines colonization of the Reds, the lowest Color in the Society, bred only for hard, manual labor. The Reds have been lied to for the past 700 years, believing they are preparing Mars to be habitable by humans. Little do they know, the Society has been enslaving them to produce the planet’s source of energy and treating them brutally to avoid rebellions. Hence, enters Darrow who’s been picked specifically to be carved into a Gold to infiltrate the Society’s highest rank of humans and destroy them from within.

“I would have lived in peace. But my enemies brought me war.” 

Red Rising started off pretty slow with a simple plot of Darrow entering The Institute, a Hunger Games sort of competition to determine the strongest of Golds. We get to see Darrow’s brilliant mind and strategies brought into plan as his survival skills are put to the test. We see his humane side as he befriends the Golds in the Institute and is constantly reminded of his purpose in the whole scheme of things.

The cluster of characters are pretty memorable as well since we get to see the Golds in a very interesting light. Red Rising questions the ultimate question of existence: are we what we’re born into? The characters are pretty diverse and whilst the Society concept is so disturbing (segregating people by their Colors, what??!), Red Rising poses very important questions on how Earth lost diversity and unity centuries ago, allowing the Golds to conquer the planets and bring forth a new era of modern enslavement.

Even though it took me 200 pages to fully immerse myself into the book, the way Red Rising unraveled was worth the wait. Red Rising is full of political machinations, endless battles and war cries among presumably spoilt, rich kids. A lot of deaths take place in this book too, so I’d advise you to restrain yourself from getting too attached to any of the characters. Or suffer the pains of a broken heart.

“I am the Reaper and death is my shadow.”

Overall, this is a great start to a very well known scifi series. I’d recommend this to adult readers, as younger readers may find the plot too slow and some scenes too detailed to grasp their attention.

Full of unexpected twists and deceiving characters, Red Rising is a book that will get your head spinning as the plot unravels and characters show their true Colors.

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Review: A Closed and Common Orbit (Becky Chambers)

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Science Fiction
Publisher: Houder & Stoughton
Publication date: October 20th, 2016
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Malaysia
Page Count: 365
Series: Wayfarer #2

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Lovelace was once merely a ship’s artificial intelligence. When she wakes up in an new body, following a total system shut-down and reboot, she has no memory of what came before. As Lovelace learns to negotiate the universe and discover who she is, she makes friends with Pepper, an excitable engineer, who’s determined to help her learn and grow.

Together, Pepper and Lovey will discover that no matter how vast space is, two people can fill it together.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet introduced readers to the incredible world of Rosemary Harper, a young woman with a restless soul and secrets to keep. When she joined the crew of the Wayfarer, an intergalactic ship, she got more than she bargained for – and learned to live with, and love, her rag-tag collection of crewmates.

A Closed and Common Orbit is the stand-alone sequel to Becky Chambers’ beloved debut novel The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and is perfect for fans of Firefly, Joss Whedon, Mass Effect and Star Wars.

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Words cannot truly describe how much I love this beautiful, emotional, heart-gripping book. This piece of artwork with its collective words of poetry strung to make you weep and melt.

I honestly have no idea how to write this review to be honest.

It is that brilliant…

And if I could recommend one science fiction book to truly understand what science fiction is all about, this book would make it to the top of the list.

Scratch that. This book would be at the top of the list.

Now, while this book is the second installment of the Wayfarer series, it does not continue directly from the first book. As mentioned in the blurb, it’s more of a standalone novel. So like me, you can read this without having to read the first book.

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Before you go all excited thinking this is your typical science fiction with wars, action, intergalactic space adventures akin to Star Wars or Star Trek, let me hold your arm and stop you right here. A Closed and Common Orbit is not all of those things I mentioned.

It’s so much more.

It begins with Lovelace, renamed Sidra, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) who gets reinstalled in a human body kit after the ship she was in got badly damaged. And whilst the AI stories we’ve read so far tend to shine a negative light on them, A Closed and Common Orbit questions the humanity and emotional capacities of AIs. Is it possible for an AI to develop thoughts and ideas on their own? To have a conscious? To help humans beyond their intended programming?

That is how unbelievably magical A Closed and Common Orbit is. It is about the human condition, extended beyond intergalactic species and even technological advances set in space. This book reminds that even when we’re millenniums into the future, we will always feel the need to belong.

We are introduced with a wide range of species who live peacefully together. And whilst there is no space politics between them or the fight for the dominant species to rule, you’ll be surprised to find that the essence of science fiction that has been explored so well in this book is our need to have a purpose in life.

And that is what Chambers play around with Sidra as she navigates life in this new body kit, forming friendships with her caretakers and a random ink tattooist.

I love how the book jumps back and forth between past and present. The present is focused on Sidra, while the past is focused on Pepper, the engineer who saved Lovelace. Pepper was raised by an AI in an abandoned ship after she escaped a slave factory at the age of 10. Her upbringing will bring all sorts of emotions in you because it represents so well the need for human connection and the love and care we all craved. And funnily enough, those things were provided to Pepper for almost 10 years, by her AI guardian, Owl. Chambers set a wonderful setting for human-technology interaction that wasn’t creepy or disturbing, but rather portrayed warmth and full of love.

“She felt as though she could reach out to that little girl and pull her through the years. Look, she’d say. Look who you’re gonna be. Look where you’re gonna go. Jane” 

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The characters inside this book are so well written, I felt like I could take them out of the book and be friends with them! There are so many species or aliens as Pepper calls them, which are described in detail throughout the book. Granted we don’t see much of their history and how they came to live with other species. But overall they were still wonderfully written.

You will love the main characters that Chambers created to guide Sidra into accepting her purpose as an AI in human form. There’s Pepper with her methodological ways and superb fixing skills. There’s Blue, the artist with a stammer whose kindness allows Sidra to open up and explore more of her wants and needs. And finally there’s Tak, the bisexual Aeluoen ink tattooist (talk about diversity!), who encourages Sidra to discover art and read more about other cultures so she can better understand herself.

“I love learning. I love history. But there’s history in everything. Every building, everybody you talk to. It’s not limited to libraries and museums. I think people who spend their lives in school forget that sometimes. -Tak” 

Now that is one amazing crew of friends.

And then there’s Owl, Pepper’s AI guardian. Owl is just wonderful. You could never believe that science fiction could ever write about an AI so lifelike as if she’s human. But Becky Chambers is truly talented for being able to do so. I can’t describe how powerful Owl’s presence was in the book. You have to read it to understand why she’s so important in this book and how it’s led to the major events.

These characters are what made the book wonderful and each character development was a joy to read, especially Sidra’s.

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Overall, Becky Chambers have become one of my favourite sci-fi writers of all time, alongside Andy Weir and Ernest Cline. If you’re in the mood for some futuristic voyage of the human condition, A Common and Closed Orbit is the book to start with.

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“Life is terrifying. None of us have a rule book. None of us know what we’re doing here. So, the easiest way to stare reality in the face and not utterly lose your shit is to believe that you have control over it. If you believe you have control, then you believe you’re at the top. And if you’re at the top, then people who aren’t like you… well, they’ve got to be somewhere lower, right? Every species does this. Does it again and again and again. Doesn’t matter if they do it to themselves, or another species, or someone they created.” 

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

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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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!