"Noemi Vidal is a teen soldier from the planet Genesis, once a colony of Earth that's now at war for its independence. The humans of Genesis have fought Earth's robotic "mech" armies for decades with no end in sight.
After a surprise attack, Noemi finds herself stranded in space on an abandoned ship where she meets Abel, the most sophisticated mech prototype ever made. One who should be her enemy. But Abel's programming forces him to obey Noemi as his commander, which means he has to help her save Genesis--even though her plan to win the war will kill him.
Together they embark on a daring voyage through the galaxy. Before long, Noemi begins to realize Abel may be more than a machine, and, for his part, Abel's devotion to Noemi is no longer just a matter of programming."
*I received an E-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*
I don't even remember how I heard about this book but it sounded really interesting. Sci-fi, war, mechs and one that may be more than just a machine? Sounds awesome! I believe I may have gotten an email from Netgalley that said something like "READ NOW for the first 500 members!" and I kinda freaked. I have never read anything by Claudia Gray before..but now I have to go read more because I loved this! Since I am now going to write a pretty rave review I feel I should remind you to always dive into a book with realistic expectations.
The more I read the more I realize I am very character driven. Yes I can love a plot and it is important to me, but characters are the most important part of a story for me, generally at least. I fell in love with Noemi and Abel! Noemi was very relate-able and I felt so much for her.
She was orphaned as a young kid, and taken in by a family, the Gatsons, who had a daughter too, Esther, and seemingly resented Noemi. I loved how that was done early on in the book. Noemi suffered growing up, believing she was unimportant, unwanted and therefor expendable. She was so caring and sensitive to others, even when she didn't realize it, and I love how she grows as a character through-out the book!
Abel, being a mech or at least in part, being the most advanced mech is really just a way of saying he's an android, also felt that way having that put in his programming before he was even active. He was often proud in such a cute way but in that one way he was humble, and sometimes it got infuriating because I just wanted to protect him as time went on. He also goes through a lot of character growth and I loved every second of it! I had no idea I could feel so much for a robot, but as the story proved, he's more than just a robot!
Abel's relationship with his creator, even after being abandoned and trapped for 30 years, was heart-breaking. The father/son relationship is so well conveyed.
I was actually talking about this story with my spouse while I was still in the first 1/2 of the book...and even though he hasn't read it he's read a lot of sci-fi and told me what was going to happen...yeah my husband spoiled a big part of the story for me without even reading it because what he said...did happen. I'm not well versed in sci-fi (yet) but if you are you'll probably see it coming. I'm never talking to him about a story again however despite seeing it coming, I still couldn't fully brace myself for it. I also have no idea how else the story could have gone and still had the strong and heart-wrenching impact that it did. The emotion is so raw and felt so true. I cried at several points in the story.
The relationship between Noemi and Abel is adorable, awkward and much sadder than you'd expect. They are both torn between their duties and their wishes. It's so incredibly slow-burn.
At the beginning of the story it was clear religion plays a part in the novel, quite a big one really, so I was immediately on alert and wary. I have nothing against religion in books, I believe every topic should be able to be written about, it's all in how you write it, and when it comes to religion I will not be preached at...and this book never felt preachy! At the first sign of religion in a book I feel myself bracing for the worst. Thankfully I loved how it played out here!
I loved that she had doubts and questions, and the simple but very true way she had of dealing with them. It did not over-do the religion and actually made me feel for Noemi's effort to find her truth..hers and no one else's and in her own way.
I also loved how characters had their own morals and the messages throughout. How it made me think and question things. It talks about what it means to be human, to have a soul, to feel. Love and free will too. Though it isn't limited to just that. All wrapped in a tasty story!
The plot was also throughly engaging and I was really engrossed in the world-building too. It's harder for me to talk about that stuff seeing as I am so character driven but rest assured the plot had me on the edge of my seat as well. It ended up being one of those books I didn't want it to end but I had to know what happened next. That feeling when you want to keep reading but you don't want to keep reading because it will end type of book.
The only con I can think of is I don't understand how Han Zhi fit into it all...but it wasn't big enough of a thing to bother me any.
This story tugged at my heart time and time again, even bringing me to tears. While I wouldn't call the ending a cliff-hanger it certainly feels like one to me in that I need to know what happens next! That ending has destroyed me.
I took several deep breaths like through-out the story too! I had to stop crying so I could continue reading after all, can't read through the tears!
Some Favorite quotes (taken from an ARC and is subject to change)
"Surely it can't be wrong to want to see more of creation. To behold the universe from every possible angle-to be the way in which the universe is able to behold itself."
(Explaining to Abel how no one is mandated to follow any one faith on her planet Genesis and he asks about Atheists and Agnostics)
"Faith can't be rushed or faked. Those who doubt or disbelieve have their own meetings, and they look just as hard within themselves. They want to live ethically and morally. They're just traveling a different path."
I firmly believe everyone has their own journey in life. If you aren't hurting others or forcing your belief on others, you do you.
I was going between 4.5 and 5 stars, so i'm giving it 4.75 and yes, I consider this a favorite!
Goodreads page if you wish to check it out!