I received this book for free from Publisher at ALA Midwinter in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers on April 4th 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Publisher at ALA Midwinter
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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.
There is something really exciting and appealing about books that take place in space. Maybe it was growing up on the Star Wars movies playing on repeat in my house when I was a kid, but I always gravitate towards these books with high interest. Defy the Stars was a very unique and inventive in story with characters full of charm. So much to love with this one!
World building & space travel – I love how the author created a galaxy filled with different worlds and our journey with the characters allow us to visit each of them. Each world had something different and special about them in the galaxy and filled with people who originated from Earth. Of course travel is possible via space ships and between the worlds through Gates and all I could envision was the hyperdrive sequences in Star Wars. lol
Technology: There were some really inventive pieces of technology included that made this book super special. The most obvious are the mech models we are introduced to. These are robotic type models made to look human. Each model is programmed with its own purpose. There are models for fighting, medical personnel, cooking, and even a couple meant for prostitution (HA). They are designed to be smart but only as smart as they need to be. We get into how they are created and it’s quite fascinating! It also opens up a discussion on how far is too far with modern technology.
Characters: Speaking of mechs… Abel is one of our main characters and we switch on and off between his POV and with Noemi. Abel was my very favorite aspect of this entire book. He is a special mech, one of a kind. He is beyond compare in intelligence and physical capabilities. He’s very blunt and straight forward, speaking without feeling or emotion. I couldn’t stop myself from reading his voice in the beginning like Baymax from Big Hero 6. But that direct way of speaking is basically where the similarities end.
But something magical starts to change with Abel in Noemi’s presence. He starts to develop some sarcasm and a sense of humor. He starts to have emotions and deeper thoughts. His POV during all this was so well done and endearing. Gah, he was absolutely adorable! There is a lot to question on how his changes can be possible, and why…
Noemi is pretty amazing as well. She’s a soldier for Genesis and extremely selfless, willing to risk her life for the future of her people. They become somewhat unwilling partners in crime in their travels at first but as their purpose evolves, so does their relationship. They begin to rely on each other and develop a friendship with just a touch of romance brewing.
Plot: Earth is currently destroying its own world (seems legit, to be honest) and wants to conquer the other planets for their resources. The plot takes us on a journey through the Loop of worlds as Noemi and Abel concoct a plan to stall a war. They even come across a rebellion and discover they are not alone.
Pacing: The only downside for me was the pacing. There were a few spots that felt pretty slow. I’m a slow reader to begin with so when the pacing slows down I really feel it.
Defy the Stars is definitely the start to a new fantastic series. It has creative technology, space travel, war, friendship, romance, and so much more! I think fans of other space novels such as the Starbound series and The Illuminae Files will enjoy this one! I’m pretty stoked for the sequel and seeing which direction we are taken next!