September 24, 2019 , Tue
Review: Defy the Stars (Constellation #1) by Claudia GrayDefy the Stars by Claudia Gray
Series: Constellation #1
Published by Little Brown Books for Young Readers
on April 4, 2017
Pages: 512
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4 Stars

She's a soldier: Noemi Vidal will 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 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. An epic and romantic adventure, perfect for fans of The Lunar Chronicles and Illuminae.

Listen, I freaking love space books. They are absolutely my jam and there’s a good chance if a book is set in space, I’m going to love it.
That being said, this book was no exception. I chose to read this for my NEWTs and it came highly recommended by two Booktubers I enjoy watching (shoutout to readywithcindy and Books With Alyssa J) so I was excited to pick it up, finally. It had been sitting on my shelf for YEARS and I was so mad I didn’t read it sooner. I definitely plan to continue on with the series, but let’s talk about THIS SUPER AWESOME  SPACE BOOK.


🛰️ Noemi and Abel are great characters who both undergo significant growth in the their view of the world they live in and who they are as individuals. The actual character progression made sense and was a gradual, organic thing as opposed to the sudden realization a lot of YA novels seem to have their characters come to. Both of them struggled with beliefs they’d long held and the difficult process of examining them to see where they came from and if they were actually true to their core values. It was only through time, introspection, and exposure to other belief systems that they were able to understand themselves and each other.

🛰️ I enjoyed the side characters, though they weren’t the most memorable. Instead, what I was struck by was their response to their environment. From radical terrorists to hacktivists to cornered doctors– they all had unique plights set in motion by their current political situation. I expect to see many of these side characters again and look forward to getting to know them better.

🛰️ The villain(s) in the novel all seemed to genuinely believe in their purposes which makes for compelling reading. The idea of power corrupting plays a big role in the overall theme and I liked seeing how it affected scientists and government leaders alike thus contributing overall to the idea that no matter who you are or where you come from, there are lines that you shouldn’t cross despite all your best intentions.


🛰️ The plot itself has a lot of different elements: political thriller, scifi epic quests, renegade robots, AI soul shenanigans, and a touch of romance. I found it all blended very well together. Especially considering the novel contains many different locations on different planets with different types of struggles and atmospheres and politics. Honestly, it was pretty well-rendered considering the amount of ground that had to be covered with regard to world building.

🛰️ The themes explored were ones I particularly enjoyed as they focused on the idea of humanity. Interestingly enough, one of the least human characters in the book exemplifies some of the best aspects of humanity and was the most likely to examine their thought processes for prejudices.

🛰️ The romance was sweet and slow-burn with such carefully written development and plenty of room for exploration. It’s one of the healthiest romances I’ve ever seen in YA with a lot of respect and boundary setting and communication. I super duper loved watching it unfold.


🛰️ The writing itself was simple and direct. You won’t find a lot of flowery prose here and I feel like that matches the action-packed plot well. Every word felt chosen specifically to assist with the pacing.

🛰️ There is a lot of complicated nuance in the writing– especially because of the locale changes. You’re moving from world to world and there’s a lot of information to absorb. Despite this, I felt like it was parsed correctly. No info dumping or exposition heavy globs which can tend to happen with complex environments.

🛰️ I expected there to be more science/space/technology explanation than there was. I wouldn’t say this is high brow science fiction. It’s very accessible without feeling dumbed down, but I wouldn’t have minded a bit more technical description as that helps firmly root me in most scifi worlds.

this is the book you’re looking for if:

  1. You like space books with political intrigue.
  2. You don’t mind a touch of slow-burn romance between a human girl and a swiftly evolving AI mech.
  3. You like writing that is direct and straight to the point without a lot of frills and fanciness.
  4. You enjoy fast-paced action narratives.
  5. You like existential dilemmas and philosophy.

this is not the book you’re looking for if:

  1. You want the high level science fiction realistic technical terminology and exploration.
  2. You’re uncomfortable with politics and religion (the idea of religion/faith itself, not any particular practice).
  3. You like slow, character driven stories that are more quiet.
  4. You want a full-blown romance arc.

now you!

🛰️ What are some of your favorite space books?
🛰️ Have you read this? What did you think? Likes? Dislikes?
🛰️ How do you feel about romance between humans and AI/robots?


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About Diana

Diana is your sleep-deprived, fandom loving, payload escorting, book obssessing tour guide. She has her Bachelor's degree in English Literature and her Master's degree in Creative Writing. She currently works for a community college in the IT department and is an adjunct professor teaching English.

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