Book Review | Defy the Stars

Author // Claudia Gray
Publication Date // April 2017
Publisher // Hotkey
Genre // Young Adult, Science-Fiction


A story of romance, rebellion and the stars from New York Timesbestselling author Claudia Gray.

Noemi is a young and fearless soldier of Genesis, a colony planet of a dying Earth. But the citizens of Genesis are rising up – they know that Earth’s settlers will only destroy this planet the way they destroyed their own. And so a terrible war has begun.

When Noemi meets Abel, one of Earth’s robotic mech warriors, she realizes that Abel himself may provide the key to Genesis’ salvation. Abel is bound by his programming to obey her – even though her plan could result in his destruction. But Abel is no ordinary mech. He’s a unique prototype, one with greater intelligence, skill and strength than any other. More than that, he has begun to develop emotions, a personality and even dreams. Noemi begins to realise that if Abel is less than human, he is more than a machine. If she destroys him, is it murder? And can a cold-blooded murder be redeemed by the protection of a world?

Stranded together in space, they go on a whirlwind adventure through Earth’s various colony worlds, alongside the countless Vagabonds who have given up planetary life altogether and sail forever between the stars. Each step brings them closer – both to each other and to the terrible decision Noemi will have to make about her world’s fate, and Abel’s.


Defy the Stars is the sweeping science-fiction journey of a young soldier from the Genesis colony who finds herself stranded on an enemy vessel with Abel, a robotic warrior from Earth. It spans multiple worlds and the people who occupy them, and reads like a true space opera film (and lets be honest, I’d love to see this on screen!).


Noemi is a tough and fearless young woman who’s spent her whole life being raised in the beliefs of the Genesis colonists. She is religious, relying on her faith to guide her as a soldier for her people in their unending war with Earth. Her beliefs are called into question when her path crosses with Abel, her enemy, but discovers that he’s unlike any of the enemy Mech’s she’s been taught about.

Abel was probably the highlight for me – I love stories about artificially intelligent beings. There’s a complexity about them, from the controversy of their creation and existence, to the question of whether they’re alive or not, can they have a soul? Abel was such an interesting character; the way his personality developed over the course of the book was just so wonderful as he navigates the complexity of what it means to be him, and to have feelings.

The worlds that Claudia Gray developed for Defy the Stars were so intriguing – Genesis, a colony world where they embrace faith (of any description), to Kismet (a planet for the wealthy holiday seekers), to Cray (where the academics reside), to Stronghold (a world that requires a physical and mental strength to live there), to and Earth that humanity has depleted of any of its natural resources.

Space travel! The Daedalus spacecraft was awesome, and the travel between the different worlds gave me series Stargate vibes (which is awesome).


There were so many really interesting questions raised in Defy the Stars, but not all of them were fleshed out as much as I would have liked – although given the length of the book that’s not all that surprising. It would have been nice to have the opportunity to explore things in a bit more depth. (Of course, one can only hope that perhaps there may be additional books in this universe to explore.)

There were a lot of small-part side characters that I would have loved to explore more, especially Victoria, a Razer from Cray who gets a few pretty significant scenes, and some snappy one liners. It would have been nice to see a bit more of her backstory.

Overall, I gave Defy the Stars 4 out of 5 stars.

I also filmed my first book vlog while reading Defy the Stars. Obviously, it contains my reactions, and thus spoilers, but feel free to come back to it when you’ve read the book and discuss it with me!

Thank you to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of Defy the Stars for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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