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Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
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Defy the Stars

by Claudia Gray

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Loved the universe, loved the characters

I don’t often find myself reading YA, but Claudia Gray’s multiverse exploring Firebird trilogy is one of my favorite series and I enjoyed this first book in her space adventure/AI-with-a-soul story almost as much.

Although Earth is an ecological mess and many humans now live elsewhere, the home world still considers itself in charge and several colony planets have started to rebel. Noemi on Genesis is willing to die for her planet, a world that has rejected much of Earth’s technology in order to avoid the eco-disasters of the mother planet. Because of that anti-tech bias Noemi is especially repelled by the robotic “mech”s that Earth uses for all kinds of purposes, including soldiering. So when in the middle of a mission to save Genesis she finds herself stranded off planet with Abel, a one of a kind advanced prototype mech who looks, and sometimes acts human, her first instinct is to destroy “him.” Or could she trust him just enough to use him to help her people?

Gray put real thought into both the various planetary cultures and the feelings the characters--even the AI character Abel--would have, which makes the story interesting and compelling.

I read an advanced review copy of this book supplied to me at not cost and with no obligation by the publisher. Review opinions are mine. ( )
  Jaylia3 | May 7, 2017 |
I haven't been reading much YA lately - I used to devour the genre, and I think I've only read and finished three YA books in the past six months (this is one of them). So this book was a pleasant surprise. I got it in my Uppercase subscription box, which I was thinking about giving up since I haven't been reading much YA lately, but I think I will keep it now. ;)

Noemi is preparing to take place in a suicidal kamikaze-type battle in an effort to buy her world, Genesis, a little more time to prepare against the hostile Earth. People on Earth have totally wrecked the climate and must settle on other planets, since the original Earth is rapidly becoming nearly inhabitable. There are already three other planets that support life (Stronghold, which is quite loyal to Earth; Cray, which is the home of scientists; and Kismet, which is almost entirely water and is only inhabited by the very rich). While on a test run for the Masada Run, Noemi's best friend, Esther, is injured badly and Noemi boards a ship - and finds Abel, a robot (mech) from Earth who appears to be almost human.

This book has nearly everything I could want - diversity (there's a ton of characters of colour), space (but not overwhelmingly so), a bit of romance (that doesn't take over the story) action, adventure, etc. I enjoyed it so much that I read it in less than twenty-four hours, and since I've been struggling to read and finish anything YA lately, that is an accomplishment. ;) Abel can be a bit of an ass at times, but he can also be hilarious; I found myself laughing out loud more than once (like when they needed to raise money fast and his "solution" to the problem).

I may be reading too much into it, but it feels like this is also a not-so-subtly veiled critique of American foreign policy in relation to the Middle East. Earth is cruel and doesn't put people on the ground to fight - they kill with machines (drones?). There's a lot of religious symbolism pointing toward "Genesis" being the Middle East - the names of the characters (biblical names), the religions (a lot of people are of the Abrahamic faiths on Genesis), the Masada Run (named after a group of Jewish freedom fighters who ultimately committed suicide rather than surrender to the Roman Empire), Genesis itself (the first book of the Pentateuch, the "garden of Eden" where life first began), etc. Genesis isn't a capitalist society (Abel says as much when Noemi has no concept of inflation) and, although poor, is more of a community-based society (rather than an individualized society). The people of Earth are focused on themselves, their pleasures, and what they can take from others - they've destroyed their own habitat and are looking to take over others'. I mean, there's a lot of stuff here, and I'm only skimming the top. If this was intentional - kudos.

The book is a planned duology, so I'm looking forward to reading the sequel! ( )
  schatzi | Apr 17, 2017 |
DEFY THE STARS was a very engaging science fiction story. Noemi Vidal is an orphan, a pilot, and a member of a suicide squad determined to close the gate that brings forces from Earth who are trying to conquer her planet Genesis. Earth has worn itself out and needs new planets. However, the settlers on Genesis are willing to fight a war to keep Earth from destroying their planet.

On a training run, Noemi's friend Esther is injured and Noemi's only hope is to take her to a derelict ship near the gate in the hopes that the sick bay will have what she needs to help her friend. Noemi doesn't realize the the derelict ship has been the prison for an advanced mech for the last thirty years.

Abel is the first and greatest creation of cyberneticist Burton Mansfield. Mansfield also created the twenty-six other varieties of mech who do all sorts of jobs on Earth and the other Earth-seeded planets. From medicine to the military, various mechs are built for the various jobs. Abel is one of a kind however and his thirty years in isolation have let him develop new talents that his creator didn't anticipate.

When Noemi and Abel first meet, it is at the point of a gun. But Abel pledges his service to Noemi since his programming dictates that he serve the highest human authority on the vessel. Neither trusts the other at all. Noemi has been taught, and experience has shown her, that any mech is evil. Abel really wants to return to Burton Mansfield but years of loneliness overcome that wish.

When Abel tells Noemi that there is a way to disrupt the gate that won't require the suicide run that is in the plans, Noemi decides to take that option. They need things not available on the ship or on Genesis and need to go through the gate to the larger universe belong.

As they travel from planet to planet to get what they need, they both see what conditions are like for the humans on other planets and see that a resistance movement opposed to Earth's policies has been developing. They also both see that the need for another home for humans is becoming more and more desperate.

Their feeling for each other change as they travel. They make friends. And, eventually, they come up with a plan that won't necessitate the deaths of either of them. But that doesn't mean that they are at all safe. Burton Mansfield has his own plans for Abel and will go to great lengths to accomplish them.

This was excellent science fiction. ( )
  kmartin802 | Feb 25, 2017 |
Simply stunning! "Defy the Stars" is a beautiful and incredible YA sci-fi. We begin with Noemi, a 17-year-old soldier from Genesis, a planet formerly settled by Earth and now engaged in full combat with Earth. Earth is dying and they want to take over Genesis. Genesis is free from pollutions and well maintained- they are worried Earth will destroy their planet too. Noemi is one of the soldiers who has volunteered to go on The Masada Run- a suicide mission intended to buy Genesis more time from Earth's attacks. Genesis is connected to the other planets of the Loop through gates in space. It is through these gates that the "mechs" or mechanical robots from Earth (named between B-Z, each letter having a different purpose; e.g. Charlies and Queens are the fighters) come.

While doing a scouting mission for the Masada Run, they detect some Earth mechs who have come through to attack. They must fight, and in the process, Noemi's adoptive sister, Esther, is attached. Noemi must save her at any cost and flies onto an abandoned spacecraft from Earth. Little does she know, there is a mech onboard who has been stranded for 30 years. Abel is something different and something special. There had been rumors of an A-model, but no one has actually heard of one. Abel also carries knowledge that could prevent the Masada Run and needless loss of life.

Together, Abel and Noemi embark on a quest throughout the galaxy and around the loop to save Genesis. Along their quest, there are some big questions the book poses, such as what it means to be human and have a soul- but also what is life and love. It is a beautifully intricate tale that grips you from the first chapters and carries you throughout. The book also addresses some other big points in terms of humanity's future and values as they travel from planet to planet- including some big things like elitism (intelligence and economic), refugees, terrorism, etc.

This is absolutely brilliant book, and I loved it! I am so sad that it ended; Gray has really outdone herself on this one. If you loved her Firebird series, you will love this one even more! The ending is not final but open, and I wish so much the next book was already here! This is an incredible series, and I cannot wait to continue it. This is definitely one of my newest favorite books!

Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own. ( )
  onemused | Feb 16, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316394033, Hardcover)

In her most epic and ambitious work to date, bestselling author Claudia Gray takes readers on an interstellar journey exploring what it means to be human.

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 20 Nov 2016 04:44:41 -0500)

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