Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Title: Defy the Stars
Author: Claudia Gray
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Source: Hot Key Books/Allen & Unwin

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.
Review by Nara

Defy the Stars is a novel that tackles the issue of artificial intelligence, and whether an advanced AI can be high functioning enough to be considered "human". I always find these sorts of novels interesting, as it's an issue that I think about occasionally and can never find a good answer to. It's good to see what others think about the issue, even if it's just in fiction. And Claudia Gray is certainly a talented writer who could examine the issue well.

It was a bit odd, because while a lot of things were happening throughout the novel, the pace is decidedly slow. As is typical of a straight sci-fi, there was a fair bit of time spent on world building, which meant that the pace was slowed somewhat by descriptions and explanation. I have to admit, it felt a bit info-dumpy at the start, but I expected this in a sci-fi and wasn't overly concerned by it. I've certainly come across worse in traditional sci-fi novels. The story itself was quite engaging, and while it was slow, my attention was captured enough that I wanted to keep reading without stopping (and I did basically read the novel in one sitting).

It was pretty funny how Abel "calculated" the best thing to say but then just came out with the most hilarious statements. I feel like the book would actually make quite a good movie, if you could find an actor who is good at pulling off deadpan humour. The dialogue in general was quite good, with the characters being interesting and realistic.

I initially thought it was a standalone and was a bit unsure about the ending (wasn't the most conclusive or satisfying of endings) but on Goodreads it looks like it might actually be part of a duology or longer series. I certainly wouldn't mind seeing more of the world now that it's been established somewhat in this first book.

Really liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Romance: 3/5
Writing: 3.5/5
World Building: 3/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 2/5