Book Review: “Defy The Worlds” by Claudia Gray

Warning: If you have not read “Defy The Worlds” by Claudia Gray, don’t read this review until you’ve read the book, unless you want spoilers!

I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s “Defy The Worlds” by Claudia Gray! I read the first book, “Defy The Stars,” and loved it, so let’s see how this sequel did! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

“An outcast from her home — Shunned after a trip through the galaxy with Abel, the most advanced cybernetic man ever created, Noemi Vidal dreams of traveling through the stars one more time. And when a deadly plague arrives on Genesis, Noemi gets her chance. As the only soldier to have ever left the planet, it will be up to her to save its people…if only she wasn’t flying straight into a trap.

A fugitive from his fate — On the run to avoid his depraved creator’s clutches, Abel believes he’s said good-bye to Noemi for the last time. After all, the entire universe stands between them…or so he thinks. When word reaches him of Noemi’s capture by the very person he’s trying to escape, Abel knows he must go to her, no matter the cost.

But capturing Noemi was only part of Burton Mansfield’s master plan. In a race against time, Abel and Noemi will come together once more to discover a secret that could save the known worlds, or destroy them all.

In this thrilling and romantic sequel to Defy the Stars, bestselling author Claudia Gray asks us all to consider where–and with whom–we truly belong.”

What I really liked about the book is that the VILLAINS were given some depth. Burton Mansfield is 100% horrible, for sure, but he’s doing it for the sake of preserving his own life. He’s old, he’s dying and afraid of death, and his getting into Abel’s body is the only way he’d get ‘immortality’ of a sort.  Heck, it turns out that he and his daughter, Gillian, ALREADY did this—on none other than Simon, Gillian’s own son. Nothing is said about the father, and given that Simon’s soul is literally in a robot body, it’s clear that Simon has already died once. Gillian’s own actions towards her own son in the book, despite knowing that he’s a soul in an AI and not in his regular human body, shows how much she cares for him. Unfortunately, this is the only interesting part of Gillian’s character, because otherwise she’s very flat for character development.

Unlike Abel, however, who was born a robot and still technically is a robot but happens to have sentience and therefore a soul as found out in the first book, Simon is…Simon is the example of sentience in robots gone very, very wrong. In a way, Simon is the complete opposite of Abel. He denies the robotic side of him, and quickly turns extremely malicious. Because of Abel and Simon’s contrasts, they show the examples of an ideal humanlike technology gone right and wrong. I wish I could comment more on this, but not only would I give away major spoilers, but I also am not a philosopher who deals with debating the sentience of AI and the possible outcomes. However, it does make me curious to know more about this sort of debate, and perhaps this is something I might come back to analyzing in the future.

I thought this book wasn’t as good as the first, is because it lacks the thoughtfulness and philosophical discourse that made the first one so good. Because Abel has largely sorted out his “mech vs. human” dilemma since the first book, there is less deliberation over what makes something human, which was something I felt made the first book special.

Another reason I thought this book wasn’t as good was because the worldbuilding felt slightly more confusing. I can’t really explain why, because major spoilers, but Genesis doesn’t seem all that different from Earth other than it being cleaner. I don’t think the differences between Genesis and Earth were established enough for them to feel like distinct worlds.

Abel and Noemi’s romance is very sweet, but when it comes to them individually I do wish Noemi was far less a damsel in distress than she was depicted in the book. Don’t get me wrong, she still gets some notable action, but she didn’t feel as active to me as she was in the first one.

The cliffhanger ending also had me confused. Is there a third book intending to be written? What else can be written? I feel like it could also easily end where it is, given that Noemi is basically mostly if not all dead by the end of the book.

Overall, I’m rating this book 3 out of 5 stars!

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