Elise (TheBookishActress)'s Reviews > Defy the Stars

Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
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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!)

PACING, PLOTTING, WORLDBUILDING

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.

THE CHARACTERS

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.

A FEW DISLIKES

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 sci-fi. 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 sci-fi novels, 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

Pre-Read

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
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Quotes Elise Liked

Claudia Gray
“The opposite of faith isn’t doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty.”
Claudia Gray, Defy the Stars

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


Reading Progress

February 28, 2017 – Shelved
February 28, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
March 2, 2017 – Shelved as: releases-to-check-out
March 27, 2017 – Shelved as: releases-2017-before-june
April 20, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
April 20, 2017 – Shelved as: on-my-shelf
April 25, 2017 – Started Reading
April 25, 2017 – Shelved as: marked-as-buddyreads
April 30, 2017 –
page 193
38.37% "this book is so easy to get caught up in! I love it"
April 30, 2017 –
page 218
43.34%
May 7, 2017 –
page 270
53.68% "I'm actually on board this romance for once. The characters are just really compelling for me"
May 9, 2017 –
page 419
83.3% "oh my god this book is so good and twisty"
May 9, 2017 –
page 444
88.27% "I fucking love Virginia"
May 9, 2017 –
page 458
91.05% "I LOVE THEM SO MUCH IM NEAR TEARS"
May 9, 2017 –
page 473
94.04% "I might round this to five stars I can't"
May 9, 2017 – Shelved as: marked-as-coverporn
May 9, 2017 – Shelved as: books-released-2017
May 9, 2017 – Shelved as: read-in-2017
May 9, 2017 – Shelved as: 5-star
May 9, 2017 – Shelved as: genre-scifi-dystopias
May 9, 2017 – Shelved as: faves-of-2017
May 9, 2017 – Shelved as: favorite-characters
May 9, 2017 – Shelved as: favorite-relationships
May 9, 2017 – Shelved as: narratives-catharsis-dot-mp3
May 9, 2017 – Finished Reading
August 27, 2017 – Shelved as: elise-underrated-list

Comments Showing 51-94 of 94 (94 new)

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message 51: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sana my feelings are hurt, i cant believe this


Elise (TheBookishActress) I don't even know what thing I did you're referencing here


Elise (TheBookishActress) oh wait I insulted you


Elise (TheBookishActress) I forgot


message 55: by [deleted user] (new)

Nice review! ;)


Elise (TheBookishActress) @Maks thanks!! I'll post a nice long one here soon, this is definitely not as much as usual


message 57: by [deleted user] (new)

Cant wait,This review is even better than my long ones so no bother ;)


message 58: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sana im still on page 200


Elise (TheBookishActress) @Sana I BELIEVE IN YOU also that's where I was literally yesterday so don't feel bad


message 60: by [deleted user] (new)

I am shook. Like for realz. You actually liked this... WOW.


Elise (TheBookishActress) WHY IS THAT SURPRISING I LIKE MOST BOOKS


Elise (TheBookishActress) like all my recent ratings are 4 stars


message 63: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sana solomon you wouldnt understand beautiful robot love


Elise (TheBookishActress) exactly


message 65: by [deleted user] (new)

EXCUSE ME HATESAUNA like you would understand love either


Elise (TheBookishActress) hatesauna


Stephanie L (catteabooks) I'm so glad you liked it Elise! I definitely agree with you on the romance part :)


message 68: by Samantha (new) - added it

Samantha Just added to my TBR! Can't wait to read your review. Is there a book/series this reminded you of?


Elise (TheBookishActress) @Stephanie it was so surprisingly good. I think I like romances better when they're not the focus early on, it gives me time to get engaged in the book and the characters by the time romance pops up.

@Samantha oooh good question! my answer got a little long oops?

— 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.
— It's also a little like Illuminae because of the super-fast plot, romance from both points of view, and readability, but without the weird formatting and more character driven.
— It's ALSO a little like The Abyss Surrounds Us for the fast-paced plot, badass mc, banter / humor, and romance.
— I think the closest comparison is probably All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terril for the fast-paced plot, good characters (although I have to admit this one is even better with characters), and romantic element (although there's no love triangle!)

I don't know, it's a bit of a combo of all four. It's awesome.


message 70: by Samantha (new) - added it

Samantha Elise wrote: "@Stephanie it was so surprisingly good. I think I like romances better when they're not the focus early on, it gives me time to get engaged in the book and the characters by the time romance pops u..."

Thanks for the detailed answer! All my type of books. Praise the Lord for no love triangle! I can't wait to read it now.


Elise (TheBookishActress) @Samantha honestly relate to that comment about love triangles. That's my pet peeve in romance, and there wasn't even a hint of one. I really hope you love this one!


message 72: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sana omg i love your review girl, you make me want to finish this book ❤️


Elise (TheBookishActress) @Sana awww thank you!! and I hope you like it too.

(btw love ur new username)


message 74: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sana ok im reading it and im gonna try to finish it by tonight! and who cant love kady and aidan together ;p


Elise (TheBookishActress) YES SANA DO IT

they're like. a lowkey ship for me. like I now it's weird but it doesn't stop me from shipping it a little

Abel and Noemi are better :)))


message 76: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sana OK I JUST LOVED YOU EVEN MORE WHEN YOU SAID YOU LOWKEY SHIP THEM

ok i loved you a little less when you said abel and noemi are better, elise why


message 77: by [deleted user] (new)

SANA AND HER CRAZINESS OMG THERE IS NO ESCAPING IT


message 78: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sana Solomon wrote: "SANA AND HER CRAZINESS OMG THERE IS NO ESCAPING IT"

LISTEN HATER YOU WILL NEVER UNDERSTAND THE CRAZY OSKAYA


Elise (TheBookishActress) I can honestly say I didn't understand a single word of that reply


Elise (TheBookishActress) I'M RIGHT AND YOU KNOW IT


message 81: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sana I honestly dont even know what i type half of the time 😂


Elise (TheBookishActress) that explains a lot


message 83: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sana ok but srsly kaidan is better than abel and noemi okay


message 84: by [deleted user] (new)

OSKAYA I KNOW I WONT BUT STILL YOU'RE CRAZY

i love you, crazy and all


Reynita Maharani ★ The Night Reader ★ I'm glad you loved this! I didn't really enjoy it but Virginia was so cool! And she's the only character that I cared about in this book. She's really precious, isn't she?


Reynita Maharani ★ The Night Reader ★ I wish I had a friend like Virginia in my real life. 😩


Elise (TheBookishActress) Reynita wrote: "I wish I had a friend like Virginia in my real life. 😩"

I really love Virginia!! I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy this :/


Savannah E I really loved the ending of the book even though it was the first in a series. It was strange to me that a mech could fall in love though


Elise (TheBookishActress) Savannah wrote: "I really loved the ending of the book even though it was the first in a series. It was strange to me that a mech could fall in love though"

I loved the ending too. and I kind of loved that aspect? I think characters who are robots and then realize their humanity are a Thing for me, although I don't necessarily think romantic love is the way to do that - again, I wish it would've emphasized platonic love more :/


Fafa's Book Corner Hi Elise! Just wanted to let you know that I have mentioned you in my review for Defy the Stars as the recommender! Feel free to give it a read.

Again thanks for the rec!


Frances Cheung I agree


Elise (TheBookishActress) @Fafa oh my gosh thank you!! 💜


message 93: by Hala (new) - added it

Hala Elaila Is this a good book to start to si fi


Elise (TheBookishActress) Hala wrote: "Is this a good book to start to si fi"

it really depends on what type of sci-fi? this is more romantic scifi / space opera, so I suppose I'd say so. but know that there are a lot of kinds of scifi - hard scifi is more sciencey, etc. good luck!


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