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!)


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.


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.


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


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
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
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: books-read-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 1-50 of 94 (94 new)

Sana lolol same girl :p

Elise (TheBookishActress) always!! I have no motivation

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Why though?! This coat banter is supplying my oxygen

Elise (TheBookishActress) that's... very literal

Elise (TheBookishActress) this coat discourse is stealing my oxygen and giving it to you apparently

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh darn. Well if it's threatening your life then maybe we should stop... I didn't mean for it to steal your oxygen Elise, i'm so sorry

Elise (TheBookishActress) I don't need these false apologies, just let him live and all will be forgiven

sreeja (hiatus) ayyy good luck guys and stop bullying poor elise,, solo

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

False apologies?!? *gasps* I would never utter such falsities!

Elise (TheBookishActress) hmmmmm

message 11: by [deleted user] (new)


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)


Elise (TheBookishActress) all of you deserved it

message 14: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sana i keep spilling tea

message 15: by Elena (new) - added it

Elena thank you, i am not dramatic, i agree

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

Mags is kind and doesnt deserve the hate

message 18: by Elena (new) - added it


Elise (TheBookishActress) Solomon wrote: "Mags is kind and doesnt deserve the hate"

true that's why she didn't get any

Elise (TheBookishActress) i feel like I'm missing something let me in on the private jokes [eyes emoji]

message 21: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars


message 22: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sana Elise wrote: "i feel like I'm missing something let me in on the private jokes [eyes emoji]"


message 23: by Elise (last edited Apr 30, 2017 01:53PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Elise (TheBookishActress) (view spoiler)

message 24: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sana Elise wrote: "considering the word Jest I assume it's about Heartless? I read that book"

ok then i can tell you (view spoiler)

message 25: by Elise (last edited Apr 30, 2017 01:53PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Elise (TheBookishActress) maggie... (view spoiler)

message 26: by [deleted user] (new)


message 27: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sana R.I.P maggie she's gonna cry

message 28: by Elena (new) - added it


Elise (TheBookishActress) I'm the mean one now 😌

message 30: by Elena (new) - added it

Elena y'all are so dramatic and rude i can't believe this im only a small child 😰

sreeja (hiatus) Maggie wrote: "y'all are so dramatic and rude i can't believe this im only a small child 😰"
HAHAHHA awww mags ily dont cry

Elise (TheBookishActress) I'm sorry Maggie you didn't deserve that

sreeja (hiatus) elise that was harsh you should channel that ability towards sauna because she hates harry potter 😂

message 34: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sana sreeja let's not be like this please

Elise (TheBookishActress) reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeealy

Elise (TheBookishActress) Sana how dare you

message 37: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars


sreeja (hiatus) Elise wrote: "Sana how dare you"
YES SANA HOW DARE U elise you're like a huge hp fan too right #fansunite

Elise (TheBookishActress) DUH

Elise (TheBookishActress) WHO ISN'T other than Sana 😡

sreeja (hiatus) EXACTLY omg im forcing her to re-read

message 42: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sana Elise wrote: "WHO ISN'T other than Sana 😡"
omg i dont deserve this hate

message 43: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sana sreeja wrote: "EXACTLY omg im forcing her to re-read"

I'll read the second book bc i might ending up dnfing if i reread 😂

Elise (TheBookishActress) the second book is the worst one though you have to at least finish book three

message 45: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars

Sana oh boy, fine i'll do it bc im nice and love you all

Elise (TheBookishActress) I don't believe any of those things

message 47: by Sana (last edited Apr 30, 2017 07:38PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars



sreeja (hiatus) i don't believe her too: time to threaten her with lockwood&co maybe then she'll listen :))

message 49: by Sana (new) - rated it 3 stars


Elise (TheBookishActress) we WERE good friends emphasis on the past tense

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