Friday, May 18, 2018

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

Noemi Vidal has volunteered to die for her planet Genesis, which is focused on religious freedom, conservation of resources, and living life with as little technology as possible. Abel is an android with advanced programming to make him evolve into something close to human. He works only to protect his creator, who also created the hordes of AI that work for and fight for Earth. Earth is ideologically opposite of Genesis and at war with them. When Noemi stumbles across Abel and he isn't able to contact his creator, Abel follows Noemi absolutely and is forced to help her crusade despite being on the opposite side. Being so ideologically opposite and isolated, both start to question what they've been taught when exposed to other ideas.

Defy the Stars is a human/AI romance amidst two planets at war. It's a typical romance trope to throw two people together who hate each other only to have them grow to love each other, but I very much enjoyed it. The story is told in alternating chapters from Abel and Noemi's point of view. Abel is the most interesting character by far because he is self reflective and constantly questioning things about the world and himself. His picture of it broadens as he learns more and more about the world and his place in it. Noemi is more focused on her faith, souls, the will of her god, and questioning the holes in the answers her faith provides. They both started out extreme, raised in their respective planets, and slowly come together in the middle by being exposed to the others ideas. I personally don't like Genesis as a planet that suppresses technology and sacrifices its people for no real reason, but Earth isn't much better consuming planets by polluting them beyond repair and moving on to the next.

Their story had me interested up until one point that isn't even very important to the main story, but made me incredibly angry. When Noemi and Abel become separated, both have the same idea of breaking out a unrepentent terrorist named Riko from prison who bombed a popular music concert and killed hundreds. If that's not enough, after getting her out, the narration muses if Riko can compromise with someone who shares her values but abhors violence. Wow. How is this even a question? Why did both main characters think she didn't belong in jail? Releasing her is the action of a villain, not a hero. In the real world, it would be like breaking out someone who shot up a rock concert or a school or bombed a crowd of people and saying if only we could compromise. That implies that their terrorism has any sort of validity, which completely disgusts me. You don't get second chances after acts like this no matter what your values are. I don't know why this was included, especially in this time where incidences such as this have become much more common.

Defy the Stars has good world building, compelling characters, and enjoyable narration. This one detail really angered me and almost had me not finish the book. It occured so close to the end that I just finished it, but it marred my entire experience with the book. I'm really surprised that no other reviews I've read have mentioned this at all. I will not be reading the rest of this series and I am seriously thinking about chucking the rest of Claudia Gray's books in the trash.

My rating: 1/5 stars

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