Defy the Stars

 
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"The Masada Run won't win the war.  But it will buy Genesis time."

Noemi and her best friend, Esther, are about to go on a suicide run.  Seventy-five ships from the planet Genesis are going to go up against the powerful enemy ships from the planet known as Earth, the planet that is determined to conquer them.   Noemi is a trained fighter pilot.  When the command is given, she leaps into her fighter and takes off knowing she may not come back.

Abel is floating in zero gravity on a dead ship, Daedalus, where he's been alone and stranded for thirty years in space.  He's a mech, an entity created and programmed by his "father" Dr. Burton Mansfield, renowned scientist.  In the world of mechs Abel is unique.  His father designed him to have the unique capabilities of all the other mechs and some layers of potential that run even deeper than the average Artificial Intelligence creations.  Abel is his greatest creation.

In a matter of minutes the worlds of Noemi and Abel collide.  Esther's scout ship has crashed into Daedalus and it will be a race against time to save her life.  Noemi and Abel size each other up.  Abel is certain he is the dominant being.  Noemi quickly comes to realize her power over him and  uses her quick wits to figure out a plan.

There are Gates between the planets in space that enable a ship to take a virtual time shortcut.  This is how the enemy got to Genesis...through a Gate.  Abel holds the knowledge of how to destroy those Gates. Now Noemi sees her chance to give her planet and her people a gift of time by destroying the Gate.  Abel knows and Noemi knows that when they accomplish this destruction, it's possible one or both of them will be lost. Giving her life for her planet is worth it to Noemi and she's willing to sacrifice Abel in the process.  Her life  won't protect Genesis but it will give Genesis the gift of time to arm herself and prepare for war.

Wary of each other Abel and Noemi agree to cooperate to destroy the Gate. First though they need to get a part for the ailing Daedalus ship.  Once the ship is restored they'll go forward.  For now they are in a race against time as the Genesis forces will set out on the Masada Run on schedule risking everything.

In the thirty years since Abel has been stranded much has changed in the galaxy.  The two are about to find themselves in danger and turning to each other's abilities to survive as they visit planet after planet and discover the revolutionaries, the guards, and the intrigue that lurks in every society they encounter.  Everyone is defending their resources and their space against Earth.  The people of Earth have destroyed their planet and they need more places for their people to colonize.

The main character in this story truly is the world-building.  It's thrilling to imagine ourselves as the enemy, we Earthlings, and to watch societies on other planets defending themselves from our poisons.  There is plenty of action and a slowly simmering hint of romance between Abel and Noemi.

This is a race across the universe to stop the evil forces of Earth.  Both characters are refreshingly self-reliant. The storyline and the characters track synonymously with an emphasis on logic, technology, ingenuity and a sense that emotion is a mysterious world for both of these entities, one a wounded human and the other getting closer and closer to discovering the possibility of a soul.

978-0316394031  503 pages  Ages 13 and up

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com

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