This year I seem to be having a major science fiction kick, and have read so many great space opera style books! For example, a while ago I read and reviewed Revenger by Alastair Reynolds and The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers, and I absolutely adored both of them.
And now I’ve read the first two books in Claudia Gray’s Constellation series – Defy the Stars and Defy the Worlds – and have really enjoyed them too (and am now anxiously awaiting the third book!). Check out my reviews below for more info!
Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray
”Your soul is bigger than your programming.”
Noemi Vidal is a soldier, willing to die to protect her planet Genesis from Earth, who have destroyed their own planet and are now looking for a new world to colonise and pollute. Abel is mech – an incredibly advanced cybernetic man – who was abandoned in space by his creator Burton Mansfield 30 years ago, and simply wants his freedom. Whilst they may be enemies, Noemi and Abel are thrown together on an epic quest across the galaxy to save both their worlds, and they begin to understand that not everything they’ve always been led to believe is true.
This book was fantastic in so many regards, from the incredible world-building, to the likeable characters and adorable romance. But most of all I loved it because it was a book that really made you think and ask some interesting ethical questions about what it actually means to be a person, and about the way our world and our technology is heading.
Abel, as one of the main characters, is someone who brings up a lot of questions. He is essentially an AI, an extremely intelligent robot, but it becomes clearer throughout the book that he is so much more. He has feelings, and dreams and wishes for the future, and above all, he can love. This raises so many questions about the future of technology and AI: will humanity ever create a conscious machine, that is an actual fact much better at everything than we are? And would this be good or bad? Would these machines have the same rights as a human, seen as they would have the same level of awareness?
It’s such an interesting, but slightly scary thing to consider, as is the future of our world, which isn’t looking too bright in this book. Mankind may have made huge advancements in technology and colonised other worlds, but wars are still happening over land and resources, and Earth is a broken shell of its’ former self. I really enjoyed the journey aspect of this book though, and getting to see the depth of Claudia Gray’s futuristic world building, however bleak it often is.
The romance was also a highlight of this book, as it was wonderfully slow-burning, and incredibly sweet. I loved both Abel and Noemi separately (Noemi is a tough, but also quite vulnerable character, and I admired her courage throughout!), but together they were perfect, and had amazing chemistry. It was also interesting to see Abel’s development throughout the book from believing he has no actual feelings, to recognising his love for another person, and to see the change in Noemi’s perception of him as she comes to realise he’s more than just a robot.
Overall this was an incredible book! It had everything: humour, romance, an epic space adventure, and a way of making you think…all in all it was one of the best books I’d read in a long time, and I was pretty quick getting round to reading the next book in the series!
Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray
‘What are you fighting, Noemi Vidal? And what are you fighting for?’
After her trip around the galaxy with Abel, Noemi is struggling to fit in on her home world of Genesis, and so when a terrible plague strikes her world, it’s almost a relief to get the chance to leave on another quest. Unfortunarely she finds herself falling into the clutches of an increasingly desperate Burton Mansfield, and knows that Abel will walk straight into his trap in an attempt to rescue her, even if it costs him his freedom, and ultimately his soul…
I feel like this book did what any good sequel does: it seriously upped the ante. You wouldn’t think the stakes could get higher than in the previous book, where Noemi and Abel went on a quest to save the entire world of Genesis, but apparently it can! Whilst Noemi’s initial aim at the start of this book is to again save her home world of Genesis, her adventure takes her to unknown corners of the universe, and thankfully, back towards Abel…
I feel like it was kind of a stroke of genius on the part of Claudia Gray to have Abel and Noemi separated at the end of Defy the Stars, as it meant I literally spent the first part of this book on the edge of my seat, willing the two characters to cross each other’s paths again. I literally could have cheered when they did, and loved how it was in the middle of a pretty big crisis which they had to try and fight their way out of.
I also loved the side characters in this second book, as they came more to the forefront. I particularly liked how Abel has begun to develop friendships with people other than Noemi, such as with Virginia, and with Harriet and Zayan, as it showed him beginning to find his place in the universe a little more, and let people in. I also liked getting to see more of Burton Mansfield and his daughter in this book, and to understand the motivations more, even if I continued to hate them with a passion…
I enjoyed exploring new corners of the universe in this book too, as the characters discover some of the terrible secrets Earth has been keeping from the rest of the galaxy for the longest time. Again, the story took the form of an action packed quest across the galaxy, that kept me hooked throughout, and the many twists kept me guessing.
And that ending…wow. The book managed to surprise me again at the last moment, and now I’m dying to read the next book (whenever it’s due to be released!), because that cliffhanger seriously gave me all the feels…I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT!
So have you read Claudia Gray’s Constellation series? What did you think? Have you any other science fiction recommendations for me, seen as I’m loving the genre so much at the moment?