Friday, March 10, 2017

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

From the publisher: 

She's a soldier. Noemi Vidal is 17 and sworn to protect her planet, Genesis. She’s willing to risk anything - including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel. He's a machine. Abandoned for years, utterly alone, Abel has advanced programming that’s begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he's an abomination. 

They are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but not without sacrifice. The more time they spend together, the more they're forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.

Defy the Stars had me from page 1. The plot plunges right into action, with interesting characters and world building. I’m not a huge fan of the robot (or whatever) who wants to become “real,” but the author does a good job with this particular plot device and I bought into it.

Earth is approaching collapse after years of environmental destruction. The people of Earth have created “gates” that allow them to visit other solar systems, and they have chosen four planets as replacements for Earth. However, the people still living on Earth have learned nothing about good stewardship. The settlers on the planet Genesis have taken the mistakes made on Earth to heart and are trying to keep their planet healthy. They are fighting to keep the people of Earth from ruining Genesis as well.

Noemi is a Genesis soldier. She has volunteered to go on a suicide mission with other volunteers. I would have preferred that Noemi be a little older – maybe 21 or 22 rather than 17 - but this book is aimed at young adults and so she is a teenager.

Noemi and Abel, the “mech” (aka robot) that she finds on an abandoned Earth ship, are both strong but flawed. I liked them both and enjoyed the alternating points of view. Noemi and Abel embark on a mission Noemi hopes will end the war between Genesis and Earth. This takes them to each of the other planets and to Earth. The best part of the book by far for me was the descriptions of the four colonized planets, all very different and with very different inhabitants. Some of the people they meet get caught up in their plans and have their own moments to shine. (Oddly, one character is mentioned multiple times throughout the book but never actually appears. Perhaps he will appear in the sequel.)

Let’s face it, the plot is not particularly original, but I enjoyed the ride all the same. There is a fair amount about faith and God, which surprised me, but I didn’t find it heavy handed. I look forward to reading the sequel some day.

Defy the Stars will appeal to fans of the Starbound series by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. I read an advance reader copy of Defy the Stars. It is scheduled to be published in April 2017 and will be available at the Galesburg Public Library. 

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