December 5, 2013

Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Title: These Broken Stars (Starbound #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Release Date: December 10th, 2013
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Page Count: 374
Source: ARC from BEA
First Reaction: I'm pretty sure my jaw is still on the floor from all the twists and turns in this book. This is just the swooniest and least predictable amazing sci-fi book I've read in the longest thing.
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.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]


When Icarus falls from the sky, there are only two survivors - Tarver Merendsen and Lilac LaRoux. Tarver is a poor soldier and Lilac is the richest rich heiress in all the lands. Stranded, Tarver and Lilac have to find a way to survive long enough to signal for help. Along the way, they have to keep from killing each other and handle all of these crazy things that keep happening on what they originally thought was a typical terraformed planet.

The Good:
  • Tarver and Lilac: Together and apart, these two are gems - just fantastic. Tarver is this tough, survivalist who only believes what's concretes, what he knows for sure. Lilac is a high society girl who always gets what she wants. Now, usually, Lilac is the one with the upper hand, but after crash landing, Tarver's the one with the upper hand. He can survive while Lilac can't. The tension there between them - after the initial, forbidden contact - is so complex and fantastic that I can't stand it. And then, as things shift between them, the love between the two is just so heartbreakingly swoontastic that the only thing you can do is fall for them as a couple. It's like, as they fall in together (and they do fall in together relatively quickly after chapters and chapters of delicious romantic tension), you fall with them and it's just perfect. 
  • The Twists: I mean, whaaaaaaaaaaaaat? I'm not going to spoil anything, but there's no way you can guess any of what happens next in this book. The plot has enough foreshadowing that you know insane things are coming your way, but you can't know. There's no way you can know. And when the insane things happen you almost can't imagine how anyone could dream something like that up. This book is so unpredictable and ominous and I just can't get enough of it.
  • Icarus: I like the symbology here. Icarus was Daedalus's son. To escape Crete, his father, Daedalus, makes him wings out of wax. While Icarus was warned not to fly too close to the sun, he does, his wings are burned, he falls from the sky and dies. It's a lesson on hubris, one that extends to the maker of Icarus, Lilac's father, Lilac, Tarver and just about everyone else in this story. It's the foundation of this book, it works so very well and I loved. So much.
  • The Bad Guy: At first I was like: I wish whatever pulled down the ship was after Tarver and Lilac. I wish there was some kind of terrible thing chasing Tarver and Lilac instead of this just being a creepy survival story. But then I was like, well, Lilac's father is the specter-like bad guy of the book and I can't imagine a more terrifying bad guy. He's just so manipulative and scary and I really wouldn't want to get on his bad side. We only see a bit of what he's capable of but I'm pretty sure we all get the idea that he hasn't built his empire on rainbows and unicorns - although I do believe he could manufacture those if he wanted to. Y'know, with all his phenomenal cosmic power (yeah, I just compared him to Genie from Aladdin, whatever).
  • The Whispers: I'm not going to get into who the whispers are because that'd be spoiler-y, but them plus the bizzare-ness of this planet made me think of Doctor Who as I read. I mean, I honestly expected the TARDIS to *vworp vworp* into existence and for Matt Smith to pop his head out to figure out what the heck was going on. Yeah, there wasn't as much running as he'd like, but things got a little dicey, to be sure. But I digress - the whispers are interesting and definitely drive the plot. The trust Tarver and Lilac put in them is similarly interesting. I can't say I'd do the same, but I can see why they did. All in all, it's an interesting dynamic and I enjoyed the complexities of it. 
  • The Titanic-ness of it all: This book is what happens after the Titanic crashes - and if the romance happened after, not before. But it's better than Titanic because everyone lives. Also because both of them sacrifice themselves for the other, and more than once too. It's a more even relationship, even though the girl is rich and the boy is poor. And, y'know, I'd say this romance is just as swoony, if not swoonier, than the one from that movie we all love/love to hate/hate to love. (Everyone feels something for that movie. It's just a question of hate or love, don't deny.)
The Confusing:
  • The Sci-Fi of it all: Honestly, this one's like Sci-Fi light, in my opinion. We don't really dig into the meat and potatoes of why The Strange is The Strange. There's a bit of a mention, but it's not as much as I'd like and it's not as clear cut as I'd like. 
  • Why Icarus Fell: I don't get it. I think maybe I missed something, since I spoke to a friend who read this book and she said she recalls an explanation, but I can't, for the life of me, figure out why it happened. Tarver saw something pull the ship down - maybe the mirror moon? But I can't figure out how that would make sense. I don't know.
  • The Rift: The whispers live in the rift. I've already noted I like the whispers, but I don't totally understand the rift. Or rather, I can't picture it well. I think I can map it out in my head, though. I know the next books in this series are companions, not sequels, but I hope they work out more of this plot. I mean, it is the same bad guy, right? (At least that's what the summary seems to say.) So I'm interested to see more on this.

The long and short of it?

Twisty, turny and just enough Sci-Fi to make me a happy girl.
World Building: I'm still left unsure of a few things, but all in all, I find it believable enough to have a texting conversation about hyperspace.
Character Development: Tarver and Lilac grow together in such a way that I almost can't hold in the tears and joy.
Prose: There were some moments in this book when the prose (as opposed to the actions of the characters) took my breath away (although the actions of the characters often did that too). The words on the page are so fantastically rich and 100% perfect.
Would I Recommend This Book?: Love Sci-Fi, survival stories and swoony romances? Stop what you're doing and read this book. I would also recommend this one to people who aren't so into Sci-Fi because I think the hubris, romance and pure awesomeness of this story will work translate to lovers of other genres well. 

Are you ready to love this book if you haven't already read it? I really hope you are. And if your'e not, or if you read and didn't love, I'd like to hear from you in the comments below anyway. (Because, y'know, I like discussions.)