Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Constellation #1

Defy the Stars

Rate this book
She's a soldier - Noemi Vidal is willing to risk anything to protect her planet, Genesis, including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she's a rebel.

He's a machine - Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel's advanced programming has begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he's an abomination.

Noemi and Abel 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 they're not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they're forced to question everything they'd been taught was true.

Fast-paced, romantic, and captivating, Defy The Stars is a story about what it means to be human, about deciding what you truly believe in, and about finding your place in a dangerous world.

528 pages, Hardcover

First published April 4, 2017

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Claudia Gray

74 books13.2k followers
Claudia Gray is not my real name. I didn't choose a pseudonym because my real name is unpleasant (it isn't), because I'd always dreamed of calling myself this (I haven't) or even because I'm hiding from the remnants of that international diamond-smuggling cartel I smashed in 2003 (Interpol has taken care of them). In short, I took a pseudonym for no real reason whatsoever. Sometimes this is actually the best reason to do things.

I live in New Orleans. So far, in life, I've been a disc jockey, a lawyer, a journalist and an extremely bad waitress, just to name a few. I especially like to spend time traveling, hiking, reading and listening to music. More than anything else, I enjoy writing.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
4,282 (34%)
4 stars
5,199 (41%)
3 stars
2,287 (18%)
2 stars
515 (4%)
1 star
195 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,220 reviews
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews157k followers
December 9, 2020

Where there’s no free will, there’s no sin.
Noemi Vidal, a young soldier, stumbles upon a mech (android/robot) in an abandoned ship near the asteroid battlefield.

Abel, the abandoned mech, is ecstatic. He's finally (FINALLY) been rescued. He spent thirty-freaking-years in that sh*thole of an ship and he's finally - getting roped into an inter-planetary war by a YA heroine. Great.

Well, his programming directives forces him to listen to the highest commanding human in the area...so now he has to follow Noemi's harebrained scheme...
This is the last time Abel lets the humans make the plans.
Along the way, Abel notices that he's changed.

Perhaps it was the thirty years of isolation, but he's having thoughts (and feelings?) that were definitely NOT part of his basic programming. And they all center on that exasperating human...

Noemi, a citizen of Genesis, was raised to hate and fear mechs, almost as much as she hates Earth.

She's familiar with them - there are many models, some of them for combat, some for nannying.

She's only ever seen the combat ones, but she has a grasp of what the others can do...but Abel? He's something else entirely.
Your soul is bigger than your programming.
Will they be able to save the world(s)? Or die trying?
Because of you, I've been truly alive. And now that I've lived, I can be ready to die for something I believe in and the person I love.
I am as surprised as anyone to have enjoyed this one so thoroughly.

Though, I did knock off a star purely because of Noemi. She is an average everyday YA heroine through and through.

She begins the book as a soldier, in command of her vessel. She's whip-smart and a decorated veteran of the war.

She grasped the "basics" of interstellar flying and quantum physics, and is ready to die for the rebel army...all at the tender age of sixteen. (Or seventeen, don't really remember and don't care enough to look up).

It's a bit frustrating that the authors are always trying to cram so much into their main characters. They always end up feeling like whiny Mary-Sues.

Couldn't the author have just added 5 to 10 years to her age?

No? Because we want to hit that sweet YA demographic? Okok...

So, you may be wondering, why such a high rating? It was Abel. The mech. He's won my heart.

He was an absolutely awkwardly hilarious mech. The author nailed the personality of a robot who is becoming human so well that the moments from his perspective more than makes up for Noemi's.

I loved his his cold logic led to funny siutations. Like when Noemi needed money, and he immediately offered up a solution.
“Abel. I can’t let you…sell your body.”
“The transaction is closer to a rental.”
The plot was fast-paced and exciting. The planets were fun and fascinating.

I was so hooked by this one that I barely noticed Noemi's perspective (which really is for the best).

It was legitimately a fun ride and I cannot wait to see what the author writes next!

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,535 reviews9,960 followers
August 17, 2017
UPDATE: This awesome book is $2.99 on Kindle US today 8-17-17

Well I loved it and I'm glad I did because I'm tired of some of those pretty book covers pulling me in, but that is neither here nor there.

I love space books =) It's like my new thing that - uh - started last year. So, it's not THAT new but who cares.

In this book it would seem that Earth is a big ole arse hole. I mean they have set stuff loose on the galaxy and other things.

They are fighting with Genesis that is another planet that some humans came to live a long time ago. Apparently there are humans all over the place on different planets and it's all awesome. It would be more awesome if they would quit fighting with each other about stuff that makes no sense, but does it ever?

Noemi is just a girl but she's a soldier that is out in space fighting to save her planet, Genesis. And she is fighting these mechs that come from Earth. Were made by this dude on Earth I should say.

When Noemi is out fighting she can see her friend Ester is following a mech and she's in trouble. While trying to save her friends life, Noemi drags Ester's little fighter ship onto a deserted ship that is actually an enemy ship. But what is a girl to do, she has to take her chances. This ship is called the Daedalus and it turns out it has been deserted for 30 years BUT, it's not deserted. Dum, Dum, Dum <-- that was my lame excuse for music

Anyhoo, this is where Noemi finds an advanced mech named Abel. They try to kill each other at first and then Abel decides he's going to let Noemi be his new master. <-- there is something there for someone to catch but it will only be the really smart sci-fi peeps to break my code! Lol

Noemi and Abel end up going on this big ole adventure around the galaxy trying to stop some stupid thing Noemi's planet has set up to do. They also meet people, find out those revelations (gotta have them people), kill things, find out more revelations, and get in trouble here and there.

That about sums it all up. I'm not going to write a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng, drawn out review because who wants that and my reviews make no sense anyway.

I just know that I love it and I look forward to the next books and ungth, the ending was really great but why......... I want everyone back together and getting on with it =) And your first kiss among the stars, sigh . . .

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,096 reviews17.7k followers
September 12, 2020
I know many of you may be ignoring this one because it looks like a typical scifi romance drama. Don't. Yes, there is a romantic element, but it's definitely not the whole book. The main characters have a very slow buildup to romance, and it never overtook the book. I'm not much of a romance fan myself, but this book was so much more than that. Give it a try even if you're worried.

This book is inevitably going to be compared to every sci-fi book published in the past five years. So here, I did it for you! If you liked any of these books, Defy the Stars is probably a good pick for your next sci-fi.

— It's a little like Empress of a Thousand Skies in the interesting thematics, multiple planetary sites, and fast-paced plot, although I think this one is a little more high-quality with less debut-novel issues. 

— It's also a little like Illuminae because of the super-fast plot, romance from both points of view, and readability, but it lacks the weird formatting and has more character work.
— No, it's really not like the Lunar Chronicles. It's got way less of a “happy ever after” feel. There's a hint that a great squad dynamic might pop up in book two, but... this book is really just a bit too dark to get compared to TLC. 

— It's ALSO a little like The Abyss Surrounds Us for the fast-paced plot, badass mc, banter / humor, and good romance. Except without the wlw, sadly. Btw, if you haven't heard of this one, you should definitely check it out. 

— I think the closest comparison is probably All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terril for the fast-paced plot, good characters (although this one has more specific development), and romantic element (although there's no love triangle!)


The plot here is super fast-paced and addictive. Defy the Stars is definitely a book that requires bingeing. Ignore the time it took me to read this; I rushed through it. If not for my buddyread pacing and the fact that I forgot it at my mother's house for a week, I would've finished this in two days at most.

I totally loved the worldbuilding. This book is filled with moral conflicts and nuanced discussions of violence and rebellion. Moral issues are completely my thing, y'all. If you like moral issues at all, you should DEFINITELY pick this up.


Noemi is a total badass with a slow journey from prejudice to trust. She's a bit outwardly unemotional (way to break archetypes!!) and stays steadfast to her ideals. Her character development here was executed SO well. Her opinion on Abel doesn't change because of love; it changes because of her realization that he has a soul. I also loved that she was religious but the book didn't push religion. Do you know how rare it is for books to take a neutral stance on religion? I was so impressed with this.

I loved Abel. “Robot who slowly develops emotion” is apparently a character archetype I am interested in. His character development is slow and feels incredibly realistic. I loved him from the beginning.
Better to be hated by Noemi than to be irrelevant to her.
That reaction seems irrational—emotional—and yet Abel knows it to be true. Or maybe he's malfunctioning more badly than he realized.

My one complaint could be the book's emphasis on love as a vehicle for humanity. Here's the good news: his character development is not about him falling in love. Here's the bad news: his falling in love is portrayed as “him becoming more human“ and I... could've done without that, I guess. You're not required to fall in love to have a soul. I would've preferred if that notion had not even been implied.

Next we're going to talk about the romance, and here's the section where I always lose people. But for once I'm not losing followers, because I loved the romance. It's a slow-burn enemies-to-friends-to-dating relationship. I loved that Claudia Gray doesn't rush this relationship! She takes a while to build it all up, and nothing remotely romantic even happens until page 400/500. We all know that I really love couples with great dialogue and banter going on. Abel and Noemi have some of the best.
“What's the first thing I said to you?”
Abel cocks his head, and finally he looks like himself again. “I remember it perfectly, but you almost certainly don't. Therefore, reciting the words cannot serve as a viable test.”

The side characters made an impression on me as well. Mansfield is an effortlessly compelling villain; the conflict between him and Abel's personal agency was written perfectly. I loved the dynamic between Riko and Ephraim. They're two idealists, part of the same sect, trying to find a way to solve Earth's problems. And Virginia is SO AWESOME. She's fucking hilarious even at dark moments. And I'm so glad Harriet and Zayan came back, too. Honestly, I just love every side character. I want them to become a badass squad.


So this book wasn't totally faultless. While the plot was fast-paced and had me on the edge of my seat for the whole book, there were a few plot conveniences that left me annoyed. For example, at one point Abel and Noemi happen to form the same plan for different reasons and manage to meet up on accident. That's overly convenient, and we all know it.

But on the other hand, I'm beginning to think this is just a fault of space-opera lit in general. I'm not sure I've ever read a sci-fi book where there wasn't a convenient moment. All in all, if you typically enjoy space opera, this shouldn't bother you.

VERDICT: I definitely have to recommend this to anyone who enjoys scifi. Put this on your tbr even if you're not usually a fan of romance. Trust me, it's not just a romance.

Spoiler-Filled Notes
— That moment where Virginia flipped off Mansfield was GOLD
— and the moment where she was like “stop hugging we have a war to fight”
— I just really fucking love her
— I love the main couple here so much I actually love them
— the moment with Mansfield? bye


My second buddy read with the person who keeps deleting Sana and my first buddy read with the person who keeps spilling tea and Maggie, the non-dramatic one! Shut down the coat discourse immediately please
Profile Image for Khurram.
1,667 reviews6,663 followers
May 24, 2022
A great story from Claudia Grey, I saw on the front cover it said for fans of Divergent. As such a fan how did not like the ending or Carve the Mark, this is a space story in the divergent style done right. The book is told from 2 perspectives Noemi and Able. I like the was Grey differentiates between the perspectives and the character development is great.

I really prefer Greys style of story telling that the characters do not simply fall in love at first site each character has their moment to shine and they both earn each other's respect, as well as changing perceptions. none of the characters in the story are one dimensional. The only one thing I would have liked more of in this book is actions. A couple extra space battle or mech on mech combat would have made this would have made this perfect for me, however that is just me. Though I do understand this is more a story of self discovery for Noemi, seeing other cultures and how her planet is perceived from the outside, and for Able what it means to be human, and dealing with raw emotions Vs his programing. If this if the first book I can't wait for the second one. I want to see what the characters do next, and can their be and Able without a Cain?
Profile Image for Simona B.
898 reviews3,008 followers
May 5, 2017
*I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

“And as always, she wishes her most secret, most selfish wish:
If only I could explore it all.

•I obviously believe this book to be deliciously written, skilfully paced, blessed with two leads that are absolutely beyond compelling, but I also think I loved as unconditionally as I did because of past conditioning (I think there's a pun here), meaning: are you familiar with Isaac Asimov? If you're not, again, why are we even friends please go pick up his Robot series, short stories included. I'm suggesting this for your own good, and not because I'm utterly and hopelessly obsessed with it since when I read it at 12. Not at all.
Anyway, my point is, Asimov was the first to ever introduce me to this very peculiar kind of characters that are robots able to experience human emotions, and after I read him, no author was able to repeat his magic, not to me. (Yes, those books are this good.) So, you see, the robot-with-feelings trope is one I could never say no to or get tired of. I can turn down the chance to read a retelling, or a whodunit, or any other type of novels I hold dear, painful as that might be, but turning down a book featuring a robot with personality? I couldn't do that to save my life.
How does this all relate to the book? Well, Defy the Stars made me feel again many things I thought only Asimov and that series could make me feel. For this, I'm deeply grateful.
To sum it up, what I wanted to say with this long introduction is simply that maybe, in other circumstances my rating would have been more of a 4.5. But really, this is all irrelevant. The book is spectacular. Read it. But since what I'm going to write now is a very enthusiastic rave review, I feel it's my duty to remind you that you should always dive into a book with realistic expectations, no matter what.

•Fun fact number two is: when I started it, I didn't know Abel was a robot. Which is pretty dumb of me because the blurb is more than clear about it. But when I add to my wish list books by authors I already know, I only give the blurb a cursory glance and don't think too much about it. That's what I did with Defy the Stars. And then, in chapter two, I found it out. And seriously, I was so happy. Like, over-the-moon happy. Punch-me-in-the-face-so-I-know-I'm-not-dreaming happy.

I guess the actual review starts here. Sorry if the introduction took so much. But they were all very unnecessary things, as you can see.

•By now you know that when I hate a book, it's probably because of the characters, and that when I love it instead, it's probably because of the characters too. Well, apparently this is one of the fundamental laws of the universe because it proved to be true. Again.
Noemi Vidal and Abel, model 1A of the Mansfield Cybernetics line are, as I said, compelling beyond belief. Empathizing with them is basically immediate. Noemi was orphaned when she was very little, and now she is a soldier of planet Genesis fighting against Earth, which is trying to invade her world; Abel is the most advanced mech (simply another term for android) in the whole galaxy, and as a result of an accident happened to the ship he was travelling in, he's been stranded in the middle of nowhere, on that same ship, for the past thirty years. I mentioned what their initial situations are because these circumstances play a pivotal role in their characterizations.
“He isn’t supposed to hope. Not like humans do. Yet during the past several years, his mind has been forced to deepen.”

Almost all her life Noemi has been led, though unintentionally, to believe that she was unimportant, unwanted, and therefore expendable. Abel, for its part, has had that same preconception about himself embedded in his programming since before he even was active. This is not only merely something that they have in common, but it's also, as I saw it, the red thread that progressively brought them closer and closer throughout the whole novel, the mirror that helped them see themselves in the other, and it constitutes a conviction each of them will have to learn to face as a first step, and then to review radically.
Abel's humility (only in this; he's more of a bragger in general, which is 100% cute) in particular, the impossible slowness with which he realizes he's after all more human that he and anyone thinks, tore at my heart time and again.
“[Noemi] wants only safety for her world. She wouldn’t kill innocents to win it.
I cannot count as an innocent, Abel decides. Mechs are designed to risk their lives where humans cannot. Otherwise, they’d never have been invented in the first place. They are, by purpose and design, disposable.”

•I'm usually not easy to satisfy when religious issues are brought into play, but I loved that Noemi actually had doubts, as much as I loved the simple yet deeply true way she found of dealing with them. Religion is a big part of her world and of the book too, but the author didn't overdo it and managed to actually make me feel touched by Noemi's efforts to find her -hers, not anyone else's- answers in her own way.
“It’s dangerous—being angry at God—but Noemi can’t deny the bitter rage she feels at this one last proof that she isn’t enough for God, for the Gatsons, for anyone at all.”

Abel's relationship with his creator is, along with the characterization of Abel himself, probably the strongest asset of the whole novel. And not only because it's objectively masterfully developed and shown, but also because it's so efficiently conveyed... well, it will wreck you. It almost killed me for sure. At one point there is this plot twist, and while I'm sure it wasn't unpredictable, you also are completely unable to brace yourself, precisely because Abel's emotions feel so true to you as a reader. And since Mansfield, Abel's creator, wasn't even then most of the time, the only character responsible for us feeling so deeply about their father/son relationship is Abel: in other words, the robot boy is perfectly able to convey the full importance of one of the most fundamental bonds of human life. And he does it mostly by telling and with very little showing
I. Am. Astounded.
This is what I call a well-written character.

•I've already outlined, a couple of paragraphs above, some of the specifics of Abel's and Noemi's relationship, and that's really all I'm going to say. Just know that their banter, the awkwardness, every single interaction of theirs and their dynamics in general; everything is so touching and funny and lovely. Every word and every gesture is in the right place a the right time. It's slow-burn, delicious, and more wistful and sad than you'd expect. They're both torn between their duties and their wishes, and since there really seems to be nothing to be done about it, since they firmly believe it is so, it's hard for them to even accept that maybe they can do something about it. I ached for them all the time.
Plus, have I mentioned how funny is their banter? Especially certain jokes about prostitution. (I made you curious now, didn't I?)

(Also, I don't know if you notice how invested in the romance I get when Claudia Gray's the one who writes it... because Abel is basically my new Paul Markov, even though I'll never stop loving Paul Markov.
No, honestly. The romance is usually my literary equivalent of a turkey shoot. This woman's got talent.)

•I know I haven't even mentioned things like the plot or the world building and I've been talking like forever, I know. But remember what I said at the beginning? The best books for me are al about the characters. But rest assured that every other thing –plot and world building, pace and writing– will not dissatisfy you. I couldn't have enjoyed it so much had they proved to be any less than good or pleasant, and they're all far more than that, though I don't doubt you could find a couple of flaws if you looked close enough. (One thing that's still bugging me, for instance, and which is probably the most futile of them all too, but whatever, is: what's with all those mentions to Han Zhi? He was literally everywhere and had no purpose whatsoever.)
The thing is that I, personally, don't see the point in that. Defy the Stars made me feel so deeply involved and I found the characters' development so complex and convincing, I really don't need much else.
Plus, it's got robots.

The ending obviously destroyed me. I wouldn't exactly call it a cliffhanger, but sure it felt like one to me.

➽ I'm sure you got how I feel about the book by now, but anyway: to put it simply, Defy the Stars was able to play on my heartstrings and make my soul sing in a way few books have. My legendary soft spot for robots with feelings certainly played its part and I'm completely happy with and unapologetic about it. Can you pick it up even if robots don't seem to do it for you? Absolutely. In fact, that's all the more reason to give it a try.

*All the quotes are taken from the ARC and are subject to change*
Profile Image for Cindy.
407 reviews116k followers
January 7, 2018
Exciting and fast-paced with likable characters and a well-developed relationship to root for. Although it's a predictable story with its cheesy moments, it's still an enjoyable escapist read that got me through an entire day stuck at the airport.
757 reviews2,349 followers
May 17, 2017
3.5 stars

I was here for Kady and Aidan and I got that.

Please read my wife's amazing review asap bc she sums up everything I felt perfectly.

"'We could practice if you want,' he smiles as he starts to expalin, 'Remember what i told you in Genesis? I'm programmed with a wide array of techniques for providing physical pleasure via every activity from kissing to the more arcane positions for sexual intercourse. Although I've never performed them before I'm confident I could do very skillfully.'"
@my robot kink confirmed

Buddy read with my favorite people!
the person who's jealous of Kell
Profile Image for Reynita ★ The Night Reader ★.
123 reviews939 followers
August 30, 2017


My Opinion

I'm a fan of science fiction so when I saw this book in the bookstore, I immediately bought a copy because this book had been in my " want to read " list for over a month and I also loved the cover. but I'm a little bit disappointed in reading this book because I'm a slow reader so it always takes me 5 - 10 days to finish a book and I felt like I kind of wasted my time in reading this book. all those nights I spent reading this book was wasted in the end. I did enjoy this book at first but I still feel like I just wasted my time in reading it.


when I finish this book, I sighed and and that sigh has two meaning, the first meaning was that I was very very glad that I finally could finish it and the second meaning was that I hated myself for setting my expectations too high before I read this book because in the end, this book didn't live up my expectations.like at all.


The Plot

the plot of this book seemed very interesting to me at first and I did enjoy this book at first but when I reached half of the book or so, I felt bored. I didn't feel interested to read it anymore. in fact, I even thought to not finish this book because it was freaking boring, but I didn't do it because I didn't like thought of wasting money I spent for this book, but I skimmed reading this book. I just wanted it to be over, okay? oh and the plot was also predictable. Thankfully, I understood what the book was about because if the book even confused me then I would not finish it for sure and I also won't read the second book. I already lost the interest to read it.


The Romance

I can't say much about the romance because I felt nothing toward the romance. the romance was just plain and boring. I didn't feel connected to the romance. not even a little bit. I literally have nothing to say about the romance.

The Characters

the main characters in this book, who are Noemi and Abel, they were just plain and how many times have I said plain on this review, by the way? but yeah, they were plain and boring characters, even from the beginning of the story, I even felt they were plain, ( I hadn't felt they were boring at first, though)
but that time I felt curious about the plot and I also liked it, so I didn't really mind about the these plain characters but day by day, I didn't feel curious anymore and I began not enjoying the plot and that's when I thought to not finish this book.
I didn't enjoy the plot anymore, the characters were plain and they were also boring, the romance was boring, so how could I not to think to not finish this book?

The only character I cared was Virginia. SHE WAS SO COOL AND SMART AND FUNNY! She's one of the secondary characters and to be honest, she was even more interesting than Noemi. That's all. The only one character I cared about in this book was only Virginia, because the main characters were plain and boring.

so I gave this book 3 stars because I enjoyed half of the book before I felt that the plot was predictable and not interesting enough anymore and it's also because how cool Virginia was.

to be honest, I don't feel like I want to recommend this book but if you are interested in reading this book, then read it! don't let my review stop you from reading it, because who knows? maybe you'll like or maybe you don't.

thank you very much for reading and liking this review, guys! I hope you all have an amazing day! bye!


this is the front cover and I personally think it's quite pretty with that purple cloud or nebula ( I don't know what that is. is that nebula or cloud ? ) as the background

BUT BRACE YOURSELF FOR YOU ARE ABOUT TO SEE HOW MAGNIFICENT THE BACK COVER IS! I have seen beautiful covers but this is the first time I saw MAGNIFICENT back cover.


the first time I saw the back cover, I literally gasped over how magnificent the back cover was! I LOVE IT SO MUCH.

and I also covered it with plastic cover. I always cover all my copies with plastic cover because I want to keep them in pristine condition and I also hope the story of this book will leave me in awe after I finish reading it. *cross fingers*
Profile Image for Caitlin.
339 reviews698 followers
March 8, 2017
"We were both looking for each other the whole time."

This is my most anticipated first book in the series release of 2017. I've been so excited to read this book ever since I found out about it in November last year. Getting an advanced copy of this book basically made my life and I don't think I've stopped screaming in excitement since I picked it up.


I'm complete trash for this author, and honestly she never disappoints. Let's be real, it would have taken a lot for me to give this book any less than 5 stars. Claudia Gray has always been a must read author of mine and I completely adore her work. I've been reading her books since I was 11 years and I'm still in love with her stories at 19. This book was an amazing space adventure and I adored every single second of it. It's depressing thinking about the long wait for the next book (which doesn't even have a publication date yet). This book is spectacular and I'd recommend it to everyone.

Sci-fi is not my genre of choice. I much prefer fantasy and often sci-fi appears to be intimidating and rather confusing. However, I will always read sci-fi from this author. Her other series, starting with A Thousand Pieces of You is one of my all time favourite trilogies and it was really the first ever sci-fi book I had read. Claudia Gray has a way of writing sci-fi that's epic and incredible, while still remaining easy to understand and follow. This book is a full on space adventure that I'd compare to books like Illuminae and Gemina, if they were written in narrative format.

If you want a little sum up, this book follow Noemi, a soldier from Genesis, and Abel, who is a mech (imagine AIDAN from Illuminae if AIDAN had a body and wasn't as crazy) who has been trapped on a spaceship for the past 30 years because he was deserted. Despite the fact that they should kill each other, they form an unlikely alliance and try to fix problems that are way bigger than they anticipated. Basically, Earth has become overdominating for the other planets and they have had enough. War is looming and everything is about to get a whole lot worse if Noemi and Abel don't do something about it.

These characters. Wow. I love them. I was honestly shocked when I discovered that this was a dual POV book because normally Claudia Gray sticks with only 1 female POV. I loved seeing inside the intricate workings of Abel's mind because he is a machine, a very human-like machine. His mind works so differently to Noemi's and it was honestly refreshing seeing the comparison between the pair.

Noemi was an amazing heroine. I loved her character. She was such a kick ass, self sacrificing person and I honestly enjoyed every second of her story. She's literally put the weight of the world on her shoulders and she's willing to sacrifice her own life for the safety and happiness of those she cares about - even sometimes random strangers. I always struggle to talk about characters that I really like, so I'll wrap it up here on Noemi.

"She's all rough edges and sharp elbows, her heart hidden so well by a quick temper that almost nobody ever recognises she has one. Sometimes she wishes she could turn herself inside out. The way people would see the good in her before they saw the bad."

Abel is a precious darling that I loved from the beginning. He's definitely a unique character and I wanted to cry every time he mentioned how alone he was. He's a one of a kind mech and he's been isolated for 30 years basically thinking "it's okay, they'll come back for me", when really no one has bothered to come and get him.

"Because hope can hurt, and yet Abel can't stop looking out the window, wishing desperately for someone to see him, so he will no longer be alone."

However, then Noemi stumbles across his ship and he isn't so alone anymore. His growth throughout this book is actually really awesome to see. I mean, he's a mech and yet he struggles (and everyone else struggles) with how close to human Abel may be. He's a mech, yes, but his inner workings really do feel human and watching him deal with that fact is great. When he started to feel things he keeps brushing it off as "oh no I must be broken".

Let's talk about how torturous the waiting for the next book is going to be. THAT ENDING. God dammit I am not okay. I feel like it's a fairly perfect ending because it's not too big of a cliffhanger but it'll definitely ensure that people will read the next book. You can bet that I'll be spending the next 12 months thinking about how much I want the next book!

Overall, this book was everything that I wanted and I would 10/10 recommend this book to everyone! I might eventually come back and edit this review after the book comes out with some spoilery thoughts, but for now I'll just keep it spoiler free!

Pre review:

Gather round friends, it's time for a story.

There was once a girl named Caitlin who has been obsessed with Claudia Gray's work ever since she found Gray's novel Evernight when she was only 11 years old. Basically, this book was her Twilight replacement. For years she cherished those books and was ecstatic when she discovered that Gray was writing a sci fi series, starting with A Thousand Pieces of You. She adored that trilogy and cried when it ended in late 2016. Now, when Caitlin, now 19, caught word of this new book, Defy the Stars, she was beyond excited because more sci fi from the author is amazing. She then realised that this book doesn't come out til April, which is heartbreaking, so she tried really hard to get an ARC. By some crazy fluke, she ends up with an ARC. Basically, Caitlin can be found crying in happiness because she is scraming over this book. The end.
Profile Image for Maria Clara.
1,016 reviews538 followers
September 8, 2018
4.5/Realmente este libro ha sido toda una sorpresa. Tanto que me da durado 24 horas. Sencillamente me ha encantado.
Profile Image for Laura.
425 reviews1,254 followers
June 6, 2017
3.5 stars
A space opera involving robots, a girl willing to sacrifice her life for her planet, and an interstellar war that has been going on for 30 years.

Earth is the enemy. They've used up all their resources and have ruined their own planet through pollution among other things. Their solution is to colonize other planets. Genesis is very careful about not ruining their planet. They won't make anything new when something old still functions. Because of this..their environment is pristine. Earth wants it. And Genesis refuses to let Earth destroy their planet the way they did their own. They go at war and have been for 30 years when we meet Noemi. She's a soldier who discovers an abandoned ship from Earth with a mech (robot or AI) named Abel on it. Little does she know, her world is about to change forever.

The relationship between Noemi and Abel is interesting because they have clear stages it goes through understandably so. Mechs are an enemy to the people of Genesis, so it certainly has it's trust issues at the beginning. There are complex dynamics to the relationship with conflicting wishes and obligations. A slow-burn romance comes into play - no love triangle. I'm not sure I really cared for the romance being that he's basically a robot, but part of Abel's journey is his evolution into something more. I can't dispute that.

The story is told in present tense, 3rd person. We get both Abel and Noemi's POVs. I like how Abel's voice evolves throughout the story along with his character. There is a nice layer in the character's banter. Religion, environmentalism, and politics are discussed. It is subtle enough to not bother certain readers, while still making the story more though-provoking. One of my favorite things was the relationship between Abel and his creator - the duty Abel felt to him that borders on father/son. It was brilliantly done.

At times I felt like the story fell on the slow side. There were also some definite similarities to Empress of a Thousand Skies. Probably too many. In some ways I really enjoyed that one. However, after a lot of thought... Defy the Stars takes the cake. It was more memorable. Plus...Abel. I'd feel better rating this higher if the pacing had been better.
Profile Image for ˗ˏˋ lia ˎˊ˗.
306 reviews387 followers
June 30, 2020
“where there’s no free will, there’s no sin.”

going into this, i was a little wary because i haven’t read a lot of science fiction that i have enjoyed. after a total of ten pages, however, i was absolutely hooked! it was so incredibly fast paced, which was really refreshing after not having read plenty of such books recently. as i was reading, i pretty much was like one more chapter, just one more chapter and i’ll stop and, thus, i literally FLEW through this chunker of a book. the world was also nothing short of amazing, with no infodumping whatsoever.

the characters were so great and are what made this story even more amazing. we follow their development and growth in a super realistic way, so you can’t help but fall in love with both protagonists. noemi is incredibly strong and, more importantly, empathic, which was my favorite part about her. especially her relationship towards abel (who i also loved dearly!) and how that changed throughout the course of the story was absolutely beautiful.

one thing that kind of caused my enthusiasm to flatten by just a little bit was the slow middle part of the book. that was the only time i was like meh, not sure if i’m really enjoying this right now BUT that shouldn’t keep anyone from reading this. writing, characters, plot, romance, pace ─ beautiful! please give this a chance and don’t just mark it down as generic cliché sci-fi romance.

→ 4 stars
Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,073 reviews2,634 followers
April 29, 2017
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/04/29/...

I first discovered and became a fan of Claudia Gray through her Star Wars novels. Having loved Lost Stars, I next went on to read and enjoy Bloodline, but even then I was aware that media tie-ins cannot give me the full measure of an author. And so I’d hoped to try one of her Young Adult books for quite some time now, which eventually led me to Defy the Stars.

The book first introduces readers to Noemi Vidal, a seventeen year old soldier for her planet, Genesis. Ever since her people split from Earth many generations ago, the two sides have been fighting. However, Earth has a powerful weapon on their side: Burton Mansfield, a scientist and cybernetics genius who designs androids, or mechs, for the purposes of war. Genesis has been pushing back against these untiring machine forces for as long as Noemi can remember, but it’s just a matter of time before her side loses the war—unless, of course, they take some drastic measures to prevent the enemy from overwhelming them and destroying them all. And so, along with her best friend Ester, Noemi volunteers for the suicide mission that is meant to be the last ditch attempt to save their world.

Meanwhile, on a battled-damaged and abandoned ship called the Daedalus, a mech named Abel has been living alone for the last thirty years, yearning to be reunited with his creator. As the most advanced mech the galaxy has ever seen, he is Burton Mansfield’s greatest and most perfect creation, though in the eyes of Genesis, he is an abomination. For the past three decades, Abel’s programming has been learning and evolving, becoming more human. And then one day, Earth launches a surprise attack on Genesis’ ships, leading a pair of Genesis soldiers to come across the Daedalus in their desperate attempt to escape. Unaware that it not completely abandoned, the two of them board the ship, hoping to find some medical supplies. And that is the story of how Noemi and Ester first met Abel, characters from two warring sides forced by chance to work together in order to survive.

Equal parts space adventure and slow-burn romance, Defy the Stars was an entertaining sci-fi romp from start to finish. I’ve also come to realize that Claudia Gray’s Star Wars novels were not a fluke; this author has got a fine talent for writing stories about characters on opposite sides who have to put aside their differences to work towards a common goal. Like the romance that blooms between a rebel pilot and an Imperial officer in Lost Stars, the relationship between Noemi and Abel also follows the same measured pattern, unfolding realistically as the two of them gradually learn more about each other and where they come from. The love between them is earned, only coming after friendship and trust is established.

The fact that Abel is a mech could have been a point of awkwardness, but I was pleasantly surprised this was not the case. I was happy enough to go along with the explanation that he is the most advanced model Mansfield has ever created, which would account for a lot of his human-like behaviors and thought processes—this is because for all intents and purposes, Abel is human. Gray puts the reader inside his head as he realizes all these changes are happening to him, and I found the evolution of the character to be quite convincing. As well, Abel’s nature may make his personality somewhat open and blunt, but the same flaw also makes him a good and genuine “person”. I loved his frequent and hilariously candid observations about human behavior almost as much as I did his sincere feelings toward Noemi. She in turn is a good match for Abel, even though in many ways she is his complete opposite—passionate, driven by her emotions, and strongly committed to her faith. At the same time she is also headstrong, independent and capable of handling a variety of challenges, including teaching Abel a great many things about what it means to be human. I have to say, one of the reasons I enjoyed the dual POVs so much was because of how it portrayed the growth in their relationship and the way we got to see the chemistry from both sides.

It’s also great to see that Claudia Gray’s work outside the Star Wars universe is just as entertaining. Before I go overboard with my praise here though, just don’t expect this book to set new standards or shatter any molds. There’s nothing too deep here, admittedly, but Defy the Stars is still a rollicking fun read with a romantic arc I actually enjoyed (kind of rare for me, in YA) and on the whole I found the story engaging and thoroughly satisfying. If you’re a YA fan who enjoys science fiction and stories set in space, this fun and fast-paced adventure among the stars could be exactly what you’re looking for.

Audiobook Comments: I was lucky enough to review the audio edition of Defy the Stars and I was not disappointed. Narrated by Nate Begle, who read Abel’s sections, as well as Kasey Lee Huizinga, who read Noemi’s, the audiobook was a great listen. Both narrators did a fine job, and Begle’s performance deserves an extra mention for his ability to find the right balance for Abel, making him sound suitably “mech-ish” but still emotional and human-like. I have no complaints at all and would not hesitate to continue this series in audio format. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Maggie ☘.
538 reviews658 followers
November 28, 2018
*4.75/5 stars*

“Where there’s no free will, there’s no sin.”

I don't even know what to say: This book was such a pleasant surprise and I did not, at all, expect to love it as much as I did!
Defy the Stars is by far the best book yet written by Claudia Grey. (Also, this is the first time her book doesn't have a love-triangle. Yay!) This is the kind of science fiction I was waiting for. I loved the characters, the slow burn enemies-to-friends-to-lovers romance (which actually didn't appear through most of the book, so don't worry about the story being way too romance centered: because it's not, at all), the world-building, fast pacing and all the amazing adventures and witty banter between the two protagonists. Oh, and also, he is a robot.

"Even ordinary things gain great power when we have been without them for too long."

“And as always, she wishes her most secret, most selfish wish: If only I could explore it all.”

P.S. I'd recommend this book even to those who didn't exactly love the Firebird trilogy. Because while I did not dislike that series, I didn't love it either: For me, it was 3 star series overall.
So even if you're not a fan of the author's previous works, I'd urge you to give Defy the Stars a chance!



Because there are supposed to be robots in this, which I loved ever since Iko from TLCh!
I've generally heard that this one isn't as good as Gray's Firebird, and since I wasn't the biggest fan of the trilogy, maybe this one will work for me better, or worse.. We shall see.
Profile Image for Suzzie.
916 reviews162 followers
April 22, 2017
I need the sequel now! This series is pretty addicting already. The dialogue has a good share of funny dialogues between the characters, the characters are so likeable, and readers will love the connection that establishes between Abel and Noemi.

This was my first Claudia Gray book (I know, I know, shocker and hiding under a rock) but will NOT be my last. I have to get my hands on her other books sooner rather than later.
Profile Image for Cindy ✩☽♔.
1,098 reviews806 followers
May 5, 2017
“Where there’s no free will, there’s no sin.”

This book is truly a wonderful piece of work. It makes one truly reflect on what it means to be human, to exist. It brings to the forefront the value of life, friendship, family and love. And it makes us question the rather backward notion that some lives are more worth saving.

“We are this world. Its next generation. If you’re not trying to save us, then what exactly are you trying to save?”

Because it is such a common notion in the world of politics. People, high and mighty, who think themselves just and wise, make life-changing decisions that affect an entire society. They pass judgment on people without truly seeing things from the other's point of view. I think that is one of the things I loved about this book. It just felt so relevant to the struggles we currently face in the world. Only the names of the players have changed.

*Detailed Review to Come*
Profile Image for Jodi Meadows.
Author 29 books4,626 followers
December 19, 2017
I ended up liking this a lot more than I was expecting. Outer space, hate to love romances, and questions about what it means to be human -- I'm into it.
Profile Image for Kat.
Author 9 books405 followers
November 10, 2021
This was just fantastic. What a detailed, fascinating, conflict-filled galaxy Claudia Gray has created for her characters to play in. Right from the start we’re sucked in to the action as Noemi practices as a kamikaze warrior to try to bring down a key transport ring that allowed residents of Earth (the baddies in this one) to get to her home planet of Genesis. When her friend is injured, she’s forced to seek help on an abandoned vessel, where she meets AI Abel.

What I LOVE LOVE LOVE about Claudia Gray’s writing is that she asks so many gray area questions along the way. Sure, Earth people have screwed up their planet and will doubtlessly screw up any other they’re given, but is it any better to heartlessly deny refugees shelter when you’ve got a big beautiful place to live and they’ll just die? Great questions considering our current political climate. And also the relationship between Abel and Noemi grows slowly throughout the book. It gradually raises the question of what is real and what isn’t right alongside the larger questions of what is just and not, what it means to be selfless and not, what it means to have a soul and not. Just awesome writing.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author.
Profile Image for Ishmeen.
383 reviews154 followers
March 22, 2018
Finally a good book to kill my slump!!!! Pumped for book two which just happens to release on my birthday yaaaas👏🏻 😊
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,744 reviews1,305 followers
March 19, 2017
(I received an advance copy of this book for free. Thanks to Bonnier Zaffre and NetGalley.)

“These are the ships of the enemy, the planet determined to conquer Genesis and take their lands and resources for its own forever: Earth.”

This was a YA sci-fi story, about a girl whose planet was being taken over by the people of Earth.

Noemi was quite a brave girl, and she wasn’t afraid to do what needed to be done for the greater good, even if it meant sacrificing her own life to save her planet.

The storyline in this was about Noemi discovering an old ship with an old ‘mech’ (a robotic warrior) on it, and then going on a journey around the galaxy in an effort to save Genesis from the people of Earth. The pace in this was quite slow, and I did find myself putting this book down a lot though. I also didn’t really feel the romance, even though Noemi found Abel to be more than a robot.

The ending to this was left fairly open.

6.25 out of 10
Profile Image for i..
331 reviews34 followers
November 12, 2017
Claudia Gray has written a beautiful novel about what means to be human and to have a soul. It may seem an ordinary sci-fi/romance YA novel but it's much more.

What makes this novel special, in my opinion, is the development of the characters, a human and a robot and their growth and evolution in the book. They question their beliefs and are able to make tough decisions.

Sci-fi fans will like the futuristic society described by the author and romance fans are bound to love the idea of a budding relationship between a teenage girl and a sophisticated mech with an uncanny sense of humour.

Profile Image for Ju.
104 reviews116 followers
April 21, 2017
S O M U C H L O V E F O R T H I S B O O K !

Although, if I'm being completely honest with myself, I guess I was kind of bound to fall in love with this book because my heart and soul literally squeal whenever I see the words space, planet or interstellar war. Add a beautiful, colourful cover and that's it, you've won me over. Publishers, you now know exactly what to put in your blurbs and how to design your covers. Don't thank me.


The characters in this book are incredible. Both Noemi and Abel are extremely lovable, and I loved following them in their journey across the galaxy. In many aspects, Noemi and Abel are very similar – they met in a moment where they were both overwhelmed by a strong feeling of loneliness ; Noemi because all her life, she's been led to believe that she was unimportant and unloved, and Abel because after being stuck in a spaceship for thirty years with everything proving that his creator had abandonned him and stopped – or had he even really started? - looking for him, he had pretty much lost any hope of being freed.

They also share this steadfast and unwavering loyalty that never ceased to amaze me : Abel is the most sophisticated robot of his kind, and he was programmed to always come back to his creator in order to insure his safety. Abel's love and devotion for Mansfield – his creator and, as he likes to call him, his father - was both touching and infuriating. Touching because Claudia Gray portrayed this very unique father and son relationship wonderfully, and infuriating because – yes, you guessed it, Mansfield's the nasty one.

Noemi shows the same kind of devotion towards her planet, Genesis, for which she is in fact ready to sacrifice herself if it means giving it a chance to win the war against Earth. Noemi never lost sight of her one and unique goal, even when doubts started to creep in. Her loyalty was one of the things I liked and admired the most about her.

"Only through sacrifice can Genesis survive."


→ Even though I really liked Noemi, Abel is the one who completely stole my heart. His POV was my favourite. It was very peculiar, but in the best way possible – he actually narrates the story in a robot-like voice, always stating the logical and talking matter-of-factly. Let me explain what I mean by giving you an example.

This is Abel's description of Noemi the first time he sees her:

"An adolescent, female-presenting human approximately 168 cm or 5 feet 6 inches in height, of primarily Latin American and Polynesian ancestry, with chin-length black hair, brown eyes, the dark-green exosuit of a Genesis soldier, and a Mark Eight blaster that is - to judge by the wavelength of the beams that just sliced through the air – at approximately 45% charge.”

He also has a surprising sense of humor, making his interactions with Noemi so much more interesting and funny! His sarcasm and pride for being the most advanced robot ever created never failed to make me smile and laugh. The jokes about prostitution, in particular, had me laughing out loud multiple times!

“Abel. I can’t let you…sell your body.”
“I believe the transaction is closer to a rental.”

ALSO – character development : A++++++

☼ Now let's talk about the romance, shall we ? Because it was amazing, people. Let me assure you that this is exactly the kind of slow-burn romance you've been looking for in YA. The burn was so slow, in fact, that it sometimes drove me crazy and had me like


But fear not, because it evolved in the best way possible and despite my frustration, I'M EXTREMELY SATISFIED.

☼ Moving on to the plot and world-building.

Genesis against Earth

This book is set in our galaxy with the addition of a few fictional planets such as Kismet, Stormhold or Crate. In this futuristic imagining of our world, Earth will soon no longer be survivable, destroyed by the human race and its thirst for technological and scientific progress. Ressources have been completely exhausted, therefore Earth is starting to move its population to the other planets it has colonized.


Genesis, seeing the destruction science has brought upon Earth, gave up on technology and refuses to build or create anything as long as their equipment is operational and their infrastructures not falling into pieces. Genesis is therefore completely healthy, which is why Earth wants to colonize this planet as well. Genesis, however, refuses to fall into Earth's hands because they know Earth has no intention to give up on science as they did. They refuse to suffer the same fate.

And so war began.


I loved the world-building and plot because it's actually a reality, a truth that might – is likely to – happen someday. We're destroying our planet, causing the scientifics to look for another survivable planet on which Earth's population might be able to live. The description were also very well-written, allowing us to easily picture the galaxy and planets the author has created. I could not be more satisfied with all the asteroid fields, jumps in hyperspace and chase through the Milky Way ♥.


The ending, while not exactly being a cliffhanger, is a promise that many more adventures are waiting for Noemi and Abel, and that the war is very from being solved...
Profile Image for Wren (fablesandwren).
675 reviews1,506 followers
September 17, 2020
So I kind of thought this book was boring.

And it might have been the narrators. The gentlemen, bless his heart, who did Abel's voice talked like a robot since Able was a robot. When anyone else talked, it was normal and you could tell that he was great at narrating. But my word.. when you talk like a robot for half a book, my brains want to melt away from you.

When I look back at all the things that happened, I realize that the book probably could have been a solid four star, maybe three, rating instead of two if not for the narrators. So know that a narration can make or break a book ladies and gentlemen. This one 100% broke it.

Abel, a prototype mech who is suppose to be the best of all the mechs, was abandoned thirty years ago. Noemi, in the attempt to rescue a friend, finds him and is automatically not okay with him because he is a product of Earth, the very planet she is fighting against. His programming makes him bound to protect her until someone with greater power comes along, so he ends up helping her and trying to stop the war that's gone on for way too long.

Plus, humanoid robots kind of freak me out.
minus Westworld, idk why but it was phenomenal.

I have read a Claudia Gray book before and really enjoyed it. She has a way of writing sci-fi that keeps your attention and a way of writing characters that you relate to. But man, was this sci-fi thing just way over my head. I just got into Star Wars three years ago if that tells you anything. I am more of a fantasy (Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia, Game of Thrones) lover than sci-fi so; so really, it could just be that this isn't for me.

Honestly I thought the world building was great and that there is a lot of potential with this series. Maybe I just won't do the audio-book for the next one, eh?

Profile Image for Navi.
112 reviews168 followers
July 20, 2018
I loved this!

This story is told from two alternating perspectives - Noemi and Abel. Noemi is a soldier from a planet called Genesis and Abel is the most technologically advanced AI (or a mech as he is called in the book) in the galaxy. Due to circumstance, these two characters run into each other and the plot ensues from there.

I loved the characters. I thought they were all well thought out. The author does an incredible job bringing them to life. That being said, my favourite character has to be Abel. His slow journey into understanding his sentience was so believable. I really liked seeing his subtle emotions, feelings and humour manifest. The underlying theme of what it means to have a soul or free will is recurrent throughout the book. What happens when you build an intelligent being? Are they capable of having a soul? Does programming overrule consent and free will? These were all questions that were discussed in the story. This is a topic I find utterly fascinating and I think the author does a fantastic job bringing these issues to light.

Abel's relationship with Noemi was well developed as well. I am happy to say that the romance in this book wasn't over the top with the cheesiness and angst common in most YA books.

Even though this is the first book in the series, I feel like it can definitely be read as a standalone. The ending was immensely satisfying.

Besides the deep philosophical moments and great character development, this was also a rollicking sci-fi adventure novel that had me turning the pages! I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Stacee.
2,740 reviews712 followers
February 7, 2018
I was super excited for this book when I requested it and somehow never got around to it. And then every time I would look at it, I wasn’t prepared to sit down with a 500+ page book.

I really liked Noemi and Abel. They’re so similar and yet so different and it was interesting to see how they learned about and from each other. There are loads of other characters, but the story is focused on these two. Although, I will say I need more Virginia.

Plot wise, it was so very dense. There are several planets and people at war and some rebels and one random pop star who keeps getting mentioned. At times it was a bit overwhelming and while things happened, it also felt like a lot of nothing happened. The last chunk of the book was amazing and angering and hopeful and did I mention infuriating?

Overall, it’s the characters that kept me reading. I definitely need more of them and I’m so happy I only have a couple of months to wait for the next book.

**Huge thanks to Little Brown Books for Young Readers for providing the arc free of charge**
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,423 reviews215 followers
November 13, 2019
OMG! I don't know why I waited so long to dive into this but I was not disappointed.

Defy the Stars gave me the urge to ship two amazing people together. Well, I mean.. any book does that really but I seriously loved Abel and Noemi so freaking much. Ugh, they were an amazing team and the ending of this probably broke me. It's like when your favorite celebrity couple gets married and makes you believe in unicorns, love, and feelings. Then like a year later they squash all of it like a damn bug and break up.


I feel you people. My hopes were crushed today as well. Let's bond.

Besides the slow burn of a romance, and I am highly expecting a reunion in the next book because of this, everything else was a ton of fun to listen to. I loved learning more about everyone's role in this book/world. Even finding out more about Abel's past and Noemi's were fun tidbits to find out. Each piece of information was just mindboggling to me.

Overall, I don't think I have any questions.. other than the main one - IS THERE GOING TO BE A REUNION? If so, please make it so happy because I will be crying tears of joy.
Profile Image for Taylor.
486 reviews138 followers
June 15, 2021
“That’s what the dead would tell the living, if they could—to grab hold of joy whenever it comes.”


Defy the Stars is a YA space opera set in a not-so-distant future, where humans have overpopulated Earth and consequently sought planets to colonize. Gates housing wormholes that allow for travel between these different planets connects Earth to the rest of the galaxy, and one of the former colony worlds, Genesis, has declared independence from Earth before the start of this book. Earth and Genesis have been engaged in the Liberty War ever since.

Noemi Vidal is a soldier of Genesis, willing to sacrifice herself for her planet's freedom. In a space battle against Earth's Mech Army - AI robots with enhanced combat ability - Noemi must dock her ship in an abandoned enemy spacecraft to save her injured friend. Unexpectedly, she runs into Abel, the most advanced model of Mech ever designed.

Abandoned for decades in an empty spacecraft, all Abel wants is to be reunited with his creator, Burton Mansfield - to be free. But when Noemi finds him, they are instant enemies. To the people of Genesis, Mechs are soulless abominations. To Earth, the people of Genesis are violent rebels. Forced by chance to work together, Abel and Noemi find that they have more in common than they thought. Embarking on a journey across the galaxy, their mission to end the Liberty War leads to Noemi learning more about her enemy, and Abel learning what it means to be human.

I would've passed this off as a typical YA science-fiction romance if it hadn't come highly recommended to me from multiple reader friends. I picked up the audio book on a whim, and I'm so happy I did!

For one, Defy the Stars has a lot more depth than I thought it would. The book starts off with a bang, and never loses momentum. Tragedy strikes Noemi early on, and I was surprised by how moved I was by the trajectory of the story. I teared up. Gray's beautiful writing isn't bogged down by unnecessary description, and packs a major punch with minimal prose. I instantly latched on to both Abel and Noemi, and their voices were distinct in my mind. I fell in love with them both.

The planet-hopping adventures, high-stakes plot, and shocking reveals were all extremely entertaining. I couldn't put this book down! The heart and soul of Defy the Stars, though, are its characters. Abel and Noemi shine like intricate constellations in this story. They're amazing characters on their own, and even better together.

Noemi is fierce, practical, and carries immense trauma from her past. She was very young when her parents died, and was taken in by the Gatsons. She grew to love Esther, her adopted sister, but never really considered herself deserving of love thanks to her upbringing. She doesn't think of herself as good or important, but Noemi's vibrant heart and intense devotion to her planet shines through the narrative brilliantly. She's smart, badass, and vulnerable. I loved her instantly.

“Sometimes she wishes she could turn herself inside out. That way people would see the good in her before they saw the bad.”

Abel is the most advanced Mech ever created, a robot built in the image of his creator when he was a young man - Burton Mansfield. Due to Abel's abandonment on a lone spacecraft for 30+ years, his programming evolved from that of a traditional Mech's - Abel had time to think of humanity and emotions, eventually developing the ability to dream. To Noemi's astonishment, Abel has a soul. It's a devastating revelation that shakes through the core of this story. How can a robot have dreams, desires, human feelings? Abel's character, and gradual development and understanding of human nature throughout this book, was expertly done. I just adore him, okay?

“Better to be hated by Noemi than to be irrelevant to her. That reaction seems irrational—emotional—and yet Abel knows it to be true. Or maybe he's malfunctioning more badly than he realized.”

I was expecting, even craving a romance with this book, but I was pleased to find the relationship between Abel and Noemi to be realistic and extremely slow-burn. It was wonderful. Both understand each other in a way that warmed my heart. Abel and Noemi are two lonely souls that found themselves in each other, and just...do you ever cry? They're so suited for one another. Abel respects Noemi and admires her strength and intelligence. Noemi values Abel as a person and respects his decisions. They ultimately confront their prejudices in a realistic way, and Noemi's opinion of Abel and his kind doesn't change because she's wooed by his pretty eyes. Her opinion changes when she realizes he has a soul.

Also, I really appreciated their banter. It was hilarious, and even though Abel is a robot and he's not technically supposed to have a sense of humor, his dry frankness matched with Noemi's no-bullshit attitude beautifully.

“I thought you were opposed to engaging in prostitution to fund our travels.” “That’s not what I—is prostitution your answer for everything?”

The romance in this book was God tier: minimal, intelligently written, and brimming with heart and soul. I absolutely loved it. Witnessing both these characters learning to love one another made me believe in love, and I just. CAN'T.

“As he hugs her closer, he feels a kind of pain indistinguishable from joy. Is this what humans feel, when they embrace the one they love? But it can't be. Humans may mistreat those they love. Sometimes they abandon them entirely. They couldn't do that if they felt the way Abel feels in this moment. They couldn't even imagine it.”


The world-building, while not overly complex, kept me intrigued, and I really enjoyed Noemi and Abel adventuring to all the different planets in Earth's system of colony worlds. Along the way, our duo run into some wonderful side characters that I was surprisingly taken by. Virginia was a lighthearted brainiac with a major lack of damage control, and I really enjoyed her dynamic with our two leads. Ephraim proved to be likable and interesting, and Zayan and Harriet were wonderful! Even the villain was fleshed out - he possessed a complex relationship with Abel, and I enjoyed the emotional conflict it created.

I'm honestly so pleased. Were some plot elements a little too convenient? Yeah, maybe. And was this the most original book ever? No, but I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Defy the Stars was wonderful. On top of having a fast-paced, action-packed plot with interesting world-building and high stakes, the characters were well-written, realistic people with emotional arcs. Abel and Noemi develop a tentative friendship turned romance that's slow-burn, respectful, and healthy. Themes discussing humanity, artificial intelligence, and what it means to have a soul shine throughout the narrative, creating an emotionally resonant story that I couldn't help but love. Really, this book was way better than I could have ever imagined.

I highly recommend this series, especially if you enjoy science fiction or want a new, fresh YA to dive into! The audio book is especially magnificent, and the narrators' voices are so good. Seriously, more people need to read this book. It's fantastic!


“The opposite of faith isn’t doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty.”
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,220 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.