Defy the Worlds by Claudia Gray
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the sequel to last year's Defy the Stars, which was one of my favorite young-adult books of 2017. In this second installment of what is apparently now a trilogy, Noemi and Abel are apart and living their own separate lives, hers on Genesis and his on the independent freighter Persephone, plying his trade between Earth and its colony worlds.
But Earth, still intent on conquering Genesis, launches a new attack--the plague Cobweb, which Noemi contracted and survived in the previous book. Since she is now immune, the Genesis government sends her through their wormhole Gate to surrender the planet to Earth, in exchange for antiviral drugs. Upon her arrival on the other side of the Gate, she is captured by Burton Mansfield, the dying creator of Abel. He did not send the plague, but he did take advantage of it, surmising that an immune Noemi would be sent to summon help. He intends to use her to blackmail Abel into returning to him and surrendering his mech (Gray's term for "cyborg") body to ensure Mansfield's survival (the reason Abel was created to begin with). When Abel speaks to Noemi after her capture, she tells him what is happening to Genesis and begs him to help her planet. He reaches out to his contacts (again from the previous book)--people he met on the various colony worlds, including members of Remedy, a terroristic organization bent on breaking free from Earth. Both Abel and Noemi surmise, rightly, that the news of what Earth is doing to the people of Genesis will be the last straw, inspiring an makeshift army to rise up and defend the planet.
In the meantime, Burton Mansfield and his daughter Gillian abruptly have to change their own plans regarding Abel and Noemi. They're part of a group of rich, elite Earthers boarding a colony ship called the Osiris, whose launch time has just been moved up. Mansfield and his daughter board the ship, forcing Noemi to accompany them, and the Osiris launches--going through a hidden Gate to a hitherto unknown planet called Haven. Whereupon it promptly crashes, due to some rich elite idiot not realizing a planet with fifteen moons might require some expert piloting. I'm not going to recap the plot anymore, because the middle of this book has several plot holes and drags quite a bit. But suffice to say that Abel follows the Osiris through the Gate, and he and Noemi reunite.
Noemi and Abel are the stars of this series, and the author's superb characterization of both, as well as the side characters, continues. This book is not as long as the first, and unfortunately it's not as tightly written as Defy the Stars. A lot of the Osiris subplot could have been chopped out, I think. However, it's still worth reading, and ends on a cliffhanger expertly designed to whet the reader's appetite for the third book.
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