Release Date: December 10, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
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.(courtesy of Goodreads)
Three word summary: Titanic in space.
If you want to read a book about a giant ship falling out of hyperspace and crashing, killing all but two people, it's not wise to do so on (a) a 14 hour flight over the ocean or (b) an 11 day cruise. For better or worse, that's exactly what I did. Lucky I'm not squeamish. These Broken Stars is a perfect combination of enchanting writing, intriguing characters, forbidden romance, and a suspenseful plot.
I find it hard to define good writing. Sure, there's flowery prose and well-constructed sentences, and there's a place for that. But that doesn't always equal good writing. A well written book has an intangible "it" factor. There's something about it that makes you keep reading. It flows well.
The writing in this book kept my eyes locked to the page. The authors had a way of playing with time that revealed certain aspects of the plot ahead of time, but in no way lessened the tension. The writing is also very quick. The chapters are short and the prose is basic. This allows the reader to lose themselves in the story without getting distracted by the words.
Lilac is a brilliant character. She comes off as a spoiled princess but her intelligence, ingenuity, and grit make her far more than the stereotypical weak girl who needs a boy to rescue her. On the other hand, she's not inhumanely strong. She needs help. She's not accustomed to wilderness survival. Her stubbornness works to her disadvantage. These contrasting characteristics make her three-dimensional, far more than many YA characters.
I liked Tarver, although stepping back from the book I have more reservations. He is brave, independent, and brash. He helps Lilac but also doesn't treat her like a weakling. Under that hard soldier exterior though, he's mourning the loss of his brother and has the soul of a poet. This is where I roll my eyes a bit. Tarver feels like a trope. A variant of the bad boy with a sensitive soul. Authors write characters like these because they think that's what readers want in a boy love interest. And you know what, it works. I fell for Tarver...but there was a part of my mind that wondered if I was being played.
These Broken Stars in a love story couched in science fiction. It gets into topics such as hyperspace, planet colonization, and other sci fi basics, but its heart is centered around the growing relationship between Lilac and Tarver. I like that the characters didn't get together too quickly. Too often, a plot gets boring once the romantic tension of "will she or won't he" is gone. The authors prevented this by sticking in some huge surprises for the happy couple that kept the reader interested.
On the other hand, reading the story from alternating points of view made the romantic tension frustrating. We can clearly see the characters' feelings for each other growing, yet their outer reactions were harsh and sarcastic for far too long. I wanted to knock their heads together and tell them to stop being such jerks and actually say what they were thinking.
The few flaws of These Broken Stars is far outweighed by the wonderful story. The book brings Lilac and Tarver's story to a relatively satisfying conclusion while leaving many open questions about why the ship crashed, the planet they landed on, and Lilac's creepy father. These will be answered in future novels, which will be companion stories focusing on new characters. A smart move, I think, rather than drawing out Lilac and Tarver's story until it's overdone. The first book of the Starbound series is a must read for any sci fi and/or romance lover.
Rating: 4 / 5
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