Book Review: Defy the Stars, a Roller Coaster Ride of a Read

Defy the Stars is one of those books that makes your head spin as your brain strives to process all the images being thrown at it. It’s classic space opera, with lots of space travel and planet hopping.

So What is it About?

It follows the stories of two main point-of-view characters: Noemi, a young female soldier from a far-away Milky Way planet called Genesis, and Abel, an artificially-intelligent android that she finds. Noemi, in an effort to save a friend who had been gravely injured in a space battle against their heavy-handed oppressors from Earth, boards what she thinks is an abandoned space ship looking for first aid supplies, but finds Abel and loses her friend. Her goal becomes to free her peaceful planet from Earth’s tight grip at all costs, and Abel’s goal, because he’s an android, helps her in that quest, even though it becomes apparent that, if they succeed, it will mean his own destruction, since his creator, someone he thinks of as his father, is a leading Earth scientist committed to the cause of Earth’s supremacy throughout the galaxy. 

The thing that I thought was most interesting about this book, other than the premise, the main characters, and the cool images of other planets, was the fact that Noemi’s whole motivation, and thus most of the book, is based on her desire to save a planet that we, as readers, are told relatively little about. While the space travel is definitely cool, and the relationship that develops between Noemi and Abel is heart-warming, one would think that one would need to see the planet more to understand her desire to go through all that she goes through to try and save it.

The focus, in fact, is very much the development of that relationship, as this is a YA sci-fi book. It’s a good read just for that. It’s also really fast-paced, which, as you know, I love. I would’ve liked to see a little bit more of Genesis, perhaps in her flashbacks, so that I could’ve understood Noemi’s motivations. In some ways, I understood and sympathized Abel better than I did Noemi, due to his frequent memories of his “father,” and his drive to return to him.

Visuals, Anyone?

via GIPHY

 Who Would Like Defy The Stars, And Why?

If you like anything by Beth Revis, particularly the Across the Universe series, you’ll like this.  If you liked Claudia Gray’s Thousand Pieces of You series, with its breakneck pacing, you’ll like Defy the Stars.  Obviously, if you like anything Star Trek, you’ll like this. If you like action, tough female characters, or romance, you’ll like this book.

 

A Thousand Pieces of You, or How to Escape for $3.95

Updated post: I’ve become a full-on adrenaline junkie of reader. Unabashed. And I found a good deal on this book to share with you!

This post was first published in January of 2017. It now contains an affiliate link. Doesn’t affect the price of the book for you.

I have a confession to make: I think I’m becoming an adrenaline junkie of a reader. I hadn’t read more than four paragraphs into A Thousand Pieces of You, and I knew I was going to love it. These are them, and also:

What is A Thousand Pieces of You About?

My hand shakes as I brace myself against the brick wall. Rain falls cold and sharp against my skin, from a sky I’ve never seen before. It’s hard to catch my breath, to get any sense of where I am. All I know is that the Firebird worked. It hangs around my neck, still glowing with the heat of the journey.

There’s no time. I don’t know whether I have minutes, or seconds, or even less. Desperately I tug at these unfamiliar clothes–the short dress and shiny jacket I wear have no pockets, but there’s a small bag dangling from my shoulder. When I fish inside, I can’t find a pen, but there’s a lipstick. Fingers trembling, I unscrew it and scrawl on a tattered poster on the wall of the alley. This is the message I must pass on, the one goal I have to remember after everything else I am is gone.

KILL PAUL MARKOV.

Then I can only wait to die.

Whoa, right? After reading those words, you feel every bit as disoriented as the main character, Marguerite Caine, who has just traveled to a dimension parallel to our own in pursuit of the person she believes killed her father, who helped invent the Firebird, the mechanism that enabled her and her father’s killer to jump their consciousnesses into their parallel selves in other dimensions. A Thousand Pieces of You is a wild chase across a number of different realities, based on the theory of parallel worlds or universes, which posits that every decision every person makes creates a reality, and the alternatives of those decisions play out in other whole universes very similar to ours, infinitely numbered and populated.

Who Would Like/Dislike A Thousand Pieces of You, and Why

While this book is not the first to explore in fiction the possible ramifications of the discovery of and ability to travel to these parallel worlds, it is one of the first that I’m aware of that does so in the young adult genre. The main character is a teenage girl, the daughter of two brilliant physicists who have discovered that there are countless parallel dimensions and as well as a way to travel between them. She takes that journey to avenge her father’s death. The voice is very much young adult, with Marguerite’s main concern, even given the gravity of her circumstances, being which of  the two main young male characters is truly worthy of her affection.

It’s fascinating to me that, while the premise of the book could have led to so many confusing plot twists, Gray manages to wield just enough of them to make the plot unpredictable but not complicated. This book has two sequels—Ten Thousand Skies Above You and A Million Worlds With You—in which that does become more of an issue. But even then, Gray names each of the five or so universes–Russiaverse, Triadverse, etc.–and makes each very distinct. The author does a good job of weaving consistent elements throughout, describing key details well, and giving just the right amount of emotional description.

Of course, the premise also lends itself well to a variety of unpredictable settings: alternate dimensions that are either super-futuristic, rustic and Russian, aquatic, or otherwise. They are vividly and efficiently shown. In another book, the writer could have gotten so caught up in the description of each of these different settings that it would’ve slowed the plot to a crawl; I can certainly see the temptation. But she doesn’t.

What’s the Deal?

So do yourself a favor: go out and get this book! My used hardback copy was $6 on Amazon; as of today, you can get it on BetterWorldBooks for $3.95.