Defy the Worlds: A Review

*Defy the Worlds is the second book in Gray’s latest trilogy. To avoid spoilers start at the beginning with the first book Defy the Stars.*

cover art for Defy the Worlds by Claudia GrayNoemi Vidal is a soldier of Genesis. Her trip across the galaxy with Abel–the most advanced cybernetic man in existence–showed Noemi how much bigger her world could be. It also showed her how she could save her planet and end their centuries long war with Earth. But Noemi couldn’t go through with the plan if it meant sacrificing Abel and his soul.

Now Abel is a fugitive traveling between the worlds of the Loop and trying to move on with his own life. When a dangerous plague is unleashed on Genesis Abel is desperate to help. Especially when he finds out that Noemi’s own efforts to save her planet have brought her directly into a trap.

Both Abel and Noemi have done the impossible before. Now, the fate of Genesis is once again at stake as the two struggle find a cure to the plague and save each other before time runs out in Defy the Worlds (2018) by Claudia Gray.

Defy the Worlds is the second book in Gray’s latest trilogy. To avoid spoilers start at the beginning with the first book Defy the Stars.

Defy the Worlds once again alternates between Noemi and Abel’s first person narrations as their paths move inexorably toward each other once again. This novel raises the stakes from book one with an appropriate increase in tension and action as the plot moves forward.

Intense action and horrific chase scenes are startling counterpoints to both Abel and Noemi’s internal struggles. Abel knows that he loves Noemi but he still isn’t sure what that means when he is a cybernetic machine and Noemi is not just a human but one from Genesis where the disavowal of technology is intrinsic to their way of life. Noemi is equally conflicted as her faith and loyalties are once again thrown into question.

Interestingly when I first read Defy the Worlds I was convinced it was a duology and could not find any information on a third book which makes the cliffhanger ending more than a bit frustrating. However that I know a third book is in the works I’m eagerly waiting to see what adventures and challenges Abel and Noemi will face next.

Defy the Worlds is another great installment in a thrilling sci-fi series that expands the world, raises new questions, and will definitely leave readers clamoring to know what happens next. Recommended.

Possible Pairings: Bound by Blood and Sand by Becky Allen, Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza, Beta by Rachel Cohn, Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid, Stitching Snow by R. C. Lewis, Warcross by Marie Lu, Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer and Douglas Holgate, Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh, Partials by Dan Wells

Defy the Stars: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

cover art for Defy the Stars by Claudia GrayFor years Genesis has fought to protect their planet and their freedom from dangerous colonization and exploitation by the enemy, Earth. Genesis vows to avoid that same mistakes Earth has made and eschews all advanced technology. But in doing so they may have signed their own death sentence. How can they hope to win a war when the enemy keeps inventing more powerful weapons?

Noemi Vidal is a soldier of Genesis–part of a generation that is slowly being annihilated in a war they cannot win. Noemi is prepared to die for her planet, her people. But even as she makes peace with her death and that of her entire unit, she knows it won’t be enough to stop the fighting or win the war.

Abel is a machine–the most advanced cybernetic ever created. He is an abomination to the people of Genesis. He was abandoned in space years ago. Isolated and alone, his programming has started to evolve and adapt while he waits for a chance to escape and complete his primary directive: find his creator Burton Mansfield and protect him.

Noemi and Abel are on opposite sides in an interstellar war. Never meant to meet. Thrown together in a desperate journey across the stars they may be the only ones who can end the war without more bloodshed. But first they have figure out how to stay alive in Defy the Stars (2017) by Claudia Gray.

Defy the Stars is the first book in Gray’s Constellation duology. The story concludes in Defy the Worlds.

Defy the Stars alternates chapters between Noemi and Abel’s close third person viewpoints. Gray nicely subverts some expected tropes about humans and robots with her main characters. Noemi is calculating and ruthless, hardened from her years growing up (and fighting) on the losing side of a large-scale war. By contrast Abel is empathetic and thoughtful in a way that shocks Noemi and makes her wonder how much she really knows about the Mansfield Cybernetics line.

High speed chases and intense action are balanced by thoughtful moments of introspection for both characters. Noemi contemplates the inevitability of her life (and death) as a soldier while Abel wonders if an artificial intelligence like himself can be meant for a great purpose and, if so, what that purpose might be. Both characters are pushed beyond their limits and their comfort zones as they are forced to work together and to grudgingly trust each other during their journey from Genesis to Earth and into the heart of the war.

Questions of what it really means to be a machine or a human with a soul drive this story as much as the action. This plot driven story perfectly balances Noemi and Abel’s evolving relationship without bogging the story down in romantic overtures. World building is carefully integrated into the story and works to enhance the plot without detracting from its finely tuned pacing. Defy the Stars is an astute, thrilling, and fascinating novel–in other words everything science fiction readers could want. Highly recommended.

Possible Pairings: Bound by Blood and Sand by Becky Allen, Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza, Beta by Rachel Cohn, Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, The Diabolic by S. J. Kincaid, Stitching Snow by R. C. Lewis, Warcross by Marie Lu, Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer and Douglas Holgate, Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh, Partials by Dan Wells

A Thousand Pieces of You: A Review

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia GrayMarguerite’s parents were on the brink of a huge breakthrough with their research into traveling between parallel universes when her father is murdered and their graduate assistant Paul disappears without a trace.

When Paul disappeared he took the Firebird, the device that makes parallel universe travel possible, with him. Marguerite is left reeling from the sudden loss of her father as well as the betrayal of a boy she thought she could care about.

Determined to get revenge, Marguerite embarks on a multi-universal hunt for Paul with the help of her parents’ other assistant, Theo. As Marguerite gets closer to finding Paul she begins to realize that their lives entangle again and again in each universe.

The closer Marguerite gets to Paul, the more she begins to wonder if he really is the villain she thought in A Thousand Pieces of You (2014) by Claudia Gray.

A Thousand Pieces of You is the first book in Gray’s Firebird trilogy.

Gray creates an extremely interesting premise here as she introduces readers to the concept of a multi-verse while exploring ideas of fate and destiny.

If that sounds lofty, don’t worry, the mechanics of universe travel are quickly glossed over when Marguerite explains that she is not interested in physics or science and tends to tune out when her parents get too technical. Marguerite is an artist.

While Marguerite’s interest in art is a key part of the story, it is deeply frustrating to see art and science set up as mutually exclusive. Furthermore, although again it is addressed somewhat in the story, it is deeply problematic to have Marguerite note repeatedly that she is not as smart as other characters in the book.

That isn’t Marguerite’s only problem. She is also headstrong as she makes rash assumptions about Paul, Theo and almost every other character she meets in the story. She spends a lot of the book telling readers how capable she is and how strong she is; she reminds readers that she is ready and able to do her duty and avenge her father’s death. But she’s also happy to have Theo with her because how could she possibly accomplish anything without a smart boy to help her?

In addition to an under-developed world, Gray gives readers a love triangle that is often painful as Marguerite’s final choice is glaringly obvious in addition to neither male lead being sufficiently well-developed to inspire any strong feelings let alone romantic ones.

The basic premise of parallel universe travel in this story is fundamentally flawed (travelers hop into or “borrow” their parallel bodies) while also serving as a central plot point in both the main story and the romance sub-plot. Weak world-building, a disappointing heroine who makes terrible decisions and a denouement that is laughably simple and incomplete further serve to diminish this book as a whole.

Readers looking for solid science fiction will be better served by other time travel/parallel universe titles. Readers who go into A Thousand Pieces of You expecting a sci-fi lite romance are likely to be much happier with this novel.

Possible Pairings: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey, Planesrunner by Ian McDonald, Hourglass by Myra McEntire, Parallel by Lauren Miller, Fair Coin by E. C. Myers, Now That You’re Here by Amy K. Nichols, The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski, Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone, All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill, Pivot Point by Kasie West