Cover of Defy the Stars, featuring the shining title surrounded by a circle breaking into rubble in front of a field of stars.

About the Book

Title: Defy the Stars (Constellation #1)
Published: 2017
Series: Constellation
Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Cover Story: Trippy ‘Splosion
BFF Charm: Heck Yes
Talky Talk: Boy (Robot) Meets Girl
Bonus Factors: Space Colonies, Unlikely Team
Relationship Status: Stowaway

Cover Story: Trippy ‘Splosion

I feel like this book should have come with special 3D-like glasses that make the title and the various parts of the circular structure behind it float in that semi-magical way that 3D images do.

(Also, for all you nerds out there, this looks an awful lot like a Stargate.)

The Deal:

Noemi Vidal is ready to give up her life for the cause. In her case, the cause is the protection of colony planet Genesis from the destructive forces of Earth. But when her best friend is injured in a skirmish, Noemi is forced to dock with a dormant Earth ship that’s been floating in space for thirty years.

There, Noemi has a run-in with Abel, an advanced mech (i.e., android). Abel’s prime directive is to serve his master, but as Noemi’s the only conscious human in the near vicinity, that honor falls to her. When Abel reveals that he knows a way to win the war, Noemi sets off on a galaxy-crossing mission. At first, their relationship is perfunctory, with Noemi planning to use Abel. But Abel is more than a mere robot, and the lines between master and servant quickly begin to blur.

BFF Charm: Heck Yes

BFF Charm Heck Yes - sparklier and shinier than the original BFF Charm

Thanks to a rough start in life and a living situation that could be better, Noemi can be cold. She’s a trained soldier, used to making split-second life and death decisions, and therefore has a calculating outward nature. People tell her that she’s a hard person to be around, and even harder to like. 

But Noemi isn’t really any of the above, at least not inside. She’s loyal and caring and willing to risk her life for both her friends and any cause that she thinks is just. She doesn’t blindly follow what she’s told; when something doesn’t seem right or the math doesn’t add up, she doesn’t disregard her instincts and seeks out more facts to determine what’s really going on. She’s also way more willing to see past a person’s exterior than most. All that to say: She’s serious BFF material.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

Although Noemi and Abel begin their partnership on very different sides of their situation, they learn to work together, to help each other, and to understand each other. Claudia Gray is excellent at crafting relationships that, even though they’re quick to change (relatively, in that books are finite), little about them seem rushed or too instantaneous. Noemi and Abel are yet another example of this, and their relationship is a slow burn to swoon city. And just when you begin to worry that Gray’s written something too close to instalove, she adds a little twist.

Talky Talk: Boy (Robot) Meets Girl

Defy the Stars is divided into chapters from both Abel and Noemi’s POVs. The alternating views give a well-rounded, fleshed-out view of the story, and we get to know both characters through each other’s eyes. And while the overarching plot of Defy the Stars is one of a quest with galaxy-altering consequences, the story at the heart of the novel is about two people who don’t know their place in the world, nor, really, who they are. Yet another thing Gray excels at: mixing matters of the heart with thrilling science fiction adventure.

Bonus Factor: Space Colonies

A view of another planet in which large rock formations float in the sky.

In the future of Defy the Stars, humanity has left Earth and colonized four other worlds, the most promising of which is Genesis, a large “Goldilocks world” in a different part of the Milky Way galaxy. Soon after settling the planet, however. Genesis’s government realizes that Earth is out to destroy Genesis the same way humans destroyed Earth, and so they revolt. On her mission, Noemi travels to the other colony planets, each of which is as different from the one before it as you can get. It’s a fascinating “what if” that makes me wonder about our own future.

(Also: There are wormholes, and “gates” that allow travel between them. Another nod to Stargate, maybe?)

Bonus Factor: Unlikely Team

A group of characters from the Suicide Squad movie walk toward the camera

I can’t resist a good ensemble adventure, particularly when said ensemble is full of people who only come together because of unforeseen circumstances.

(Please note: I am not using an image of the team from Suicide Squad lightly, and am in no way suggesting that it is a good movie. The team is, however, unlikely.)

Relationship Status: Stowaway

I don’t care that I wouldn’t really be a help to you on your quest, Book, but I want to join up with you so badly. And even if you tell me to scram, for my own good, you might just find me in the cargo bay, hiding behind containers of rations. You won’t get rid of me that easily.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. This review was originally posted on Kirkus Reviews in exchange for monetary compensation, which did not affect or influence my opinions. Defy the Stars is available now.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.