Book Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner

13138635These Broken Stars
(Starbound #1)
by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
December 10, 2013
Disney Hyperion
384 pages
Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Synopsis

It’s a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed on it.

A timeless love story, THESE BROKEN STARS sets into motion a sweeping science fiction series of companion novels. The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.(Goodreads Summary.)


**This is an ARC Review**



My Take On It

So, is anyone else super excited about that there seems to be a definite trend in YA Lit involving science fiction? I love science fiction. I’m the girl that used to watch old episodes of Star Trek with her dad when she was a little girl. When Star Wars came out, I dressed up as Princess Leia  for Halloween (TOTALLY dating myself here.) And alien storylines? Heck yes, I love them. Especially in film and on TV. I like the classics, I like hard core ones, I even like the cheesy ones. I remember watching Contact back in the 90’s and immediately running out to buy Carl Sagan’s book that that film was based on. So, yeah. Total sci fi nerd.

And although I’m not a genius, I have earned a couple of college degrees and enjoy reading books that both entertain me and make me think. I find that science fiction fits the bill. And I actually love the science fiction in YA because it’s thought provoking without going too high brow. It’s doesn’t give me a headache trying to figure what’s happening and it doesn’t go overboard on the technical talk or the theories. And there’s often swoony romance to boot (BONUS!)

Such is the case with These Broken Stars. Yes it does have the star-crossed lovers on an ill fated voyage vibe (ie: Titanic) but there is a lot more to this book.  When the Icarus, the giant starship that Lilac and Tarver are aboard, goes down it is a truly Titanic-worthy scene. The fear that is generated as thousands try to flee a ship that is essentially falling from the sky is almost tangible. But it is what comes after, when Tarver and Lilac manage to escape the doomed craft, that makes These Broken Stars a great read.

These Broken Stars is told in an alternating, first person point of view. If a book is going to be told in a dual or multiple narrative, then first person POV is the tense I prefer. Both viewpoints are distinctly their own. You won’t have to worry about getting confused about which is speaking as you are reading. In addition, most of the chapters are headed by bits of dialogue between Tarver and unknown interrogators. I won’t spoil anything, but I figured out fairly quickly that the story, at least from Tarver’s POV, is being recounted to someone in command and that these short scenes that head most chapters are a debriefing of sorts.  I loved this approach because  what what Tarver is letting these people in charge believe may or may not be what really happened. Unreliable narrators for the win! And this causes the reader to speculate even more about what exactly has gone down while Tarver and Lilac were stranded on that planet after the Icarus crashed.

So, a little about Tarver and Lilac. Two very different characters, with very different upbringings. I liked Tarver the most of the two, but Lilac definitely grew on me as the story progressed. I’m pretty sure that the authors wanted to make Lilac standoffish and untouchable early on in the story because her character is certainly the one that undergoes the most development in this book.

90% of the action in this book happens after Tarver and Lilac crash land on an unknown planet. So, as much as this book is like Titanic, it’s also the story of two castaways trying to survive.

But what about the science fiction? This was my favorite part of the book, hands down. We get a lot of backstory on Tarver and Lilac’s world, especially in regards to Lilac’s father and his profession. Lilac’s dad is the richest man in the known universe, his wealth attained by planetary engineering, or terraforming. Terraforming is a concept that has been around since the 1940’s, a hypothetical theory rooted in both science and science fiction. I won’t go into lengthy explanations, but you can read more about it HERE. Basically it’s a concept of taking an uninhabitable planet and making it habitable. For instance this might mean engineering an atmosphere or controlling the surface temperature in order to support basic plant and animal life, all in preparation for making the planet able to support human life. In These Broken Stars, planetary engineering is big business. The book mentions that Mars was the first planet to be terraformed and after that everything changed. Those individuals with the means to set up companies in this new field of commerce became Earth’s biggest billionaires, people like Lilac LaRoux’s father. You can imagine all the moral and ethical questions that would arise from this kind of thing, and those implications are inserted into These Broken Stars in a very subtle fashion. I am hoping that future books in this series discuss this even more.

But I am betting that Tarver and Lilac’s romance will be what most readers are going to go crazy over. And yes, it’s of the super swoony variety. There is an attraction between them which then is then followed by animosity and a sharp awareness of how different they are and how unlikely it is that anything could work out between them. But when disaster strikes and these two are forced to learn to trust each other in order to survive,  their relationships turns into one of those really awesome kinds. The kind where they both slowly open up to each other and begin to let each other into their hearts. It’s the swoony, slow burn kind that almost everyone can agree is the BEST. If you are a fan of this in the books you read, you will not be disappointed. TRUST ME.

And if you’re a fan of a book that’s got some ominous undertones AND features some big time surprises of the “WHOA, didn’t see that coming” variety then you are going to dig this book as well.

The only thing that keeps me from putting These Broken Stars into the five star category, is that the ending, to me anyway, felt a wee bit rushed (at least when compared to the pacing of the rest of the book which was great) and the climax felt a little anticlimactic. Just a little. Not enough to ruin the book and certainly not enough to keep me from wanting to read the sequel, but enough to keep me from rating this book higher. But hey. This is a seriously kick ass start to an exciting new series and I really, really enjoyed it.  It’s not my favorite sci fi/ alien book this year, that honor goes to Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave, but this book is what I was hoping to find when I read Beth Revis’s Across the Universe a few years ago. Great science fiction storyline, believable characters that read as three dimensional and well developed, sizzling romance, and a fair amount of action. Oh, and poetry! Did I mention that? Tarver (and his mother) are POETS. Be still my beating heart!

Also, it would have been killer to have a map included of the planet that Lilac and Tarver land on, in my opinion. You know me, I love the visual aids:)

So, to all you readers who have been anxiously awaiting the publication of this book, I think you can feel confident in your expectations. And for those of you who are just catching wind of These Broken Stars: add it to your Christmas wish list. I’m predicting this book will be a major seller come December. And I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some big production company doesn’t snap it up for the big screen (if they haven’t already.) It’s got summer blockbuster action/adventure/romance written all over it:)