Monday, April 14, 2014

Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars (Starbound #1) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Rating: 3.75 stars
Source: Library
Buy the Book: Amazon
Summary: "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."

Review: These Broken Stars is basically what you'd get if you threw both the mega-blockbuster Titanic and the hit show LOST in a blender, and then added spaceships for spice.   

It was well written and engaging, and there were plot twists and turns that I didn't see coming, but on the whole it was a little slow for my taste.  I think if it had employed more Titanic and less LOST then it would have been more exciting, but it was still a solid read.

The Titanic-esque metaphorical iceberg-crash happened much sooner than I expected.  Tarver and Lilac became the only two characters in the entire story very early on.  On the one hand, I liked that there was high-stakes action happening so early in the story, but looking back I think this plot decision may have been a mistake.  If the crash hadn't happened until later there would have been more time to develop the side characters, making their fate more emotionally traumatic, plus it would have enveloped Lilac and Tarver in a more socially dangerous relationship, making their decision to love each other more a matter of decision rather than convenience.  I'm glad they fell in love, but it would have been more satisfying if they weren't literally the only two human beings on the planet.

The romance was more front-and-center than I prefer, personally, but romance fans will not complain.  There was insta-attraction, but not insta-love in this book.  I appreciated that the authors differentiated between the two.  

The best part of this novel, for me, was the weird, paranormal happenings on the planet.  Clearly, the planet on which they crashed landed is no ordinary place.  The paranormal moments were perfectly executed, so creepy and intriguing, I had to finish the book to know what was going on there.  I also really liked the way the story ultimately unfolded.  I did not expect it to end that way, and I like having my expectations blown.  (Also, the story actually ended instead of just leaving side-plots off to dangle forever, haunting us with their lack of conclusion.  Hey, LOST producers, IT CAN BE DONE.)

The worst part of this novel, for me, was the world building.  I didn't totally get what was going on in the basement.  (I can't say more or else this will get too spoilery.)  There were times when I was just trying to figure out logistically and logically what was going on, which pulled me out of the story at a time when I would have much preferred to stay in the story and enjoy the ride.

And, I didn't realize (AGAIN) that this was a start of a series.  I like series, but prefer to know ahead of time what I'm getting into.  Not sure I'll continue this series, unless someone else reads it and highly recommends it to me.  We'll see.

Still, well done to Kaufman and Spooner on this novel, I think plenty of people will totally eat up this series.  There were some problematic moments, and it wasn't quite my cup of tea to begin with, but it was still a solid read.

One last note: Maybe it's because I just finished Veronica Rossi's wonderful trilogy, but I saw echoes of Rossi's Under the Never Sky all over the place in These Broken Stars.  Tarver and Lilac's trek across the planet reminded me a lot of Perry and Aria's trek across their respective planet.  (Class differences, blatant animosity between the two characters, him being more capable to handle the rough terrain surrounding them, her being more naive but impressively resilient, him cursing his inner nobility that refuses to let him leave her to fend for herself, them eventually developing a grudging respect for each other, etc.)  There were several funny little parallels there, but I think I prefer Aria and Perry's story.

BOTTOM LINE: I didn't connect to the novel the way I wanted to, but I think paranormal and dystopia readers who like a strong focus on romance will love this one.

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