review: defy the stars

I am a huge fan of Claudia Gray, her Firebird trilogy is one of my favourite sci-fi series of all time. I was definitely excited to read another YA sci-fi series by her, and after reading Defy the Stars I can safely conclude that Claudia Gray is one of my favourite young adult authors. I really enjoyed the first book in the Constellation series, and i'm rating Defy the Stars 4.5 stars!

Synopsis from Goodreads:
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. 

I have to admit, it did take me a couple of chapters to really get into the book. The sci-fi elements were quite heavy and it took a bit more effort to sink everything in, but it was all very worth it. I was quite blown away by the descriptions of how the world works a few centuries from now. I liked seeing the differences between Earth, Genesis and the other planets governed by Earth. Apparently Earth and the planets from The Loop have advanced to using mechs for nearly everything; warriors, doctors, chefs, even prostitutes! The robotic technology was invented by a scientist from Earth named Mansfield, who also invented his ultimate creation: Abel. Abel is a highly intelligent mech that is basically a combination of all of the 25 types of mechs created by Mansfield. I really loved Abel's unique character and narration. It's not every day that you get to read in a robot's point of view, and read the way they think. Claudia Gray did a really good job in describing the tech and science for the mechs.

I really enjoyed the fast-paced plot with all the unexpected twists. Even though i wish we could have spent longer at each of the places Abel and Noemi visited, it was still nice to get a glimpse of the planets they went to. I appreciated seeing the development of Abel and Noemi's friendship. It was definitely not an insta-love kind of romance, and the romance didn't become the main focus of the story.

One of the things I liked the most about Defy the Stars is how philosophical it got. It questioned what makes someone human, and the consequences of creating a being that's capable of having the characteristics of a human. I also liked that Claudia Gray didn't shy away from discussing about religion and faith, and how it was done in a very neutral and respectful way. I was really excited to see Muslims being mentioned to pray towards the direction of Earth, where Mecca is located. It somehow made the context of living on a different planet and traveling through space feel possible.

I really liked the ending! It was unexpected, slightly heartbreaking, and sets a really good start for the sequel. I am definitely looking forward to find out what happens next in the rebellion against Earth. I hope that we'll also get to explore more of Genesis and the other mechs that Mansfield created that we didn't get to see.

The only problem that I had with the book was the part when a person very important to Noemi died at the start of the book. I wish Claudia Gray had described more of Noemi's grief, because I wasn't really convinced that the character had really meant that much to Noemi. I would have appreciated seeing a bit more backstory or intimate moments between the two characters. But other than that, the rest of the book was fine.

I'd definitely recommend this book to sci-fi lovers, especially those who enjoy space adventures. This book reminded me of the Zodiac series by Romina Russell, which is another great YA sci-fi series.


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2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge
Kamalia has read 15 books toward her goal of 50 books.