Release Date: April 04, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository
Synopsis: Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that’s now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth’s robotic “mech” armies for decades with no end in sight.
After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel’s programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis–even though her plan to win the war will kill him.
Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel’s devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming.
* I received an e-ARC of this book through a NetGalley promotion from the publisher*
“If you could pay a debt of honor without it costing you anything, you wouldn’t have really repaid it, would you?”
You ever read a book and when you finally put it down you feel like something about this particular book has just changed you in some way? Well that’s how I feel about this book. This book is equal parts enchanting and challenging, thrilling and heartbreaking, in all the best ways. I’m going to try and not give too much away because honestly I think this is one of those rare books you just need to read and form your own opinion on, but I just want to mention a few things that made me love this book so much.
Let’s start with the characters. Noemi and Abel are two of the most well developed characters I have read in a long time. The way that the author was able to make me fall in love with both of them individually is just amazing. By the end of the book I was rooting for both of them, completely separate of their romance together. Which, I was also rooting for by the way. The romance of these two is definitely a slow burner but in the best possible ways. We as readers get to know Noemi and Abel as separate people first and understanding how they interact with each other and how they relate to the conflicts of their world is so important to their overall relationship. This is probably one of my favorite book romances right now, it was just so well executed.
The impressive thing about the characters in this book is that it’s not just the main characters that get personalities and characters arcs. The secondary characters feel just as important and fleshed out in the narrative as the main ones do. I personally can’t wait to see more from Ephraim, the quote at the top is from him.
The world-building is great, of course it is still set in our world, just in a super distant future. But that’s what makes it great, I enjoy books where I can actually envision everything that’s happening and this book makes this so easy. The technology and advancements described make sense, no matter how disturbing. Having things like the creation of artificial life to prolong our own and space travel to colonize other planets because we’ve destroyed ours are very current topics so the author was smart to use those as themes/plot points in the book.
What really helped was the almost third person narrative that switched between Abel and Noemi. It kept the pace flowing but gave glimpses into how the two characters saw things differently and especially how Abel was changing as the novel progressed. Every time they would do something in the novel I never felt like I was missing a piece of the story, all the details felt complete, from how the characters felt to where they were located to the accuracy of how the ships were being flown. I particularly enjoyed the space travel aspect when it was just Abel and Noemi together in the craft visiting the different planets, I hope there’s more of that in the sequel.
I also want to point out that I wasn’t expecting this book to have religious elements but it definitely did. This wasn’t a religious book but I could completely see religious themes pervading the novel and I was more than delighted to find that when religion was brought up it was handled well, not forced, and written in a very honest way. And even though I disagree with the idea that a soul can be created artificially, especially in a world where God exists, I loved what the author presented in having humans be so disastrous and selfish at attempts with creating life because, let’s face it, that’s exactly what would happen.Truthfully that was probably what affected me most about the book, the way the author wove authentic faith messages into a secular science fiction book.
It takes a talented writer to make you come a away from a book feeling like you’ve learned something while still having fun, and Gray accomplished that for me with Defy the Stars. I may be reading too much into the book, and I still may have given too much away in this review when I didn’t want to, but I really want to encourage everyone to read it, believe me of many of the books I’ve read, this one will be worth your time.
And as always, once you’ve read the book I’m up for discussions and general fun chats 😊