“These Broken Stars” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
4 out of 5 stars.
The Icarus is said to be indestructible, infallible. Until it isn’t anymore. When the Icarus is suddenly pulled out of hyperspace and ripped apart, Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen are thrown together in a free-falling escape pod. When it crash-lands on an unfamiliar planet, it seems that they are the sole survivors of the Icarus.
After snubbing Tarver back on the ship only a day before its forced descent, Lilac is smart enough to know that she and the soldier are not on good terms. She may know the mechanical workings of their pod ship, but she’s no wilderness survivor and Tarver is her only hope of reaching the Icarus’ crash-site alive. Whether either of them likes it or not, the only way to survive this mysterious planet is by working together.
The closer they get to the Icarus, the more eerie their new home becomes. Strange animals that shouldn’t exist on a terraformed planet are stalking them in the bushes, and there seems to be no human life for them to find. Lilac and Tarver can’t comprehend how the government could have gotten so far in the terraform process without introducing humans into the ecosystem, or at least a few towers to monitor the planet. Are they just too far away from civilization to find it, or is there something far more sinister lurking just beneath the surface? Can Tarver and Lilac work together and stay alive long enough to be found, or are they to be abandoned and forgotten just like this planet seems to be?
“These Broken Stars” by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner was a great book! I had read it once before when it came out last December, but I didn’t like it that much the first time around; I cannot put my finger on it, but I just didn’t connect with the story or characters at that time. I had admired the writing even then despite not liking it all that much, because, well, Amie and Meagan are fantastic writers and I can appreciate that. A year passed and I had seen that The Midnight Garden was doing a blog tour for the second “Starbound” book, so I went on each day to check out the happenings. The more people posted about “This Shattered World,” the more I wanted to go back and reread “These Broken Stars,” and I am super happy that I did. I don’t know whether it was my state of mind, or that my tastes in books has changed a bit since last year, but I loved “These Broken Stars” the second time around.
I think that the best word to describe “These Broken Stars” is sweeping. It is elegant, complex, and yet really simple, and I so admire Amie and Meagan for their writing skills. There are so many minute details in this story that slowly add up to create the stunning world that Lilac and Tarver live in, and it makes for a really enjoyable and interactive reading experience. I also loved the fact that even though Amie and Meagan took so much time to make this world so lush and interesting, I never felt like the development of it all was ever tedious. These two wonderful authors found the magical balance of keeping their readers engaged without ever comprising important details that make a great book.
Another thing that I loved about reading “These Broken Stars” again was watching and reading the interviews of Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, and understanding all of the subtly hints that help merge this book with “This Shattered World.” One of those things was Jubilee Chase (the heroine of the second book) being mention somewhere in the first book by Tarver. I started to read it a day after Amie had done that interview with Little Book Owl, and so while reading I found that part and I was like,
That discovery made me admire Amie and Meagan all the more because they seem to really have this trilogy mapped out quite well. Okay, now on to the characters!
Lilac LaRoux was a fairly complex character. She’s the daughter of the richest man in the galaxy, she is calculated, and knows how to put people in their place. She appears cold and indifferent to those around her, but she had more of a story to tell once the Icarus crashed on a seemingly uninhabited planet. At first, I was not the hugest fan of Lilac. Yes, I did admire her mechanical still-set that saved her and Tarver (kudos to Amie and Meagan!), but she acted quite cold and rude towards Tarver on the Icarus and continued to do so even after the crash. Understandable considering the things a reader discovers in the first few chapters of this book about her father; you don’t know exactly what happened to make her a harsher person, but you can glean enough to form an opinion. I could understand a bit of where she was coming from, but I wasn’t yet a fan of her’s.
The more she began to recount from her point of view, though, the more I grew to care for her as a character. Some crazy stuff happened that she had to deal with and it began to make her a stronger person, which made me root for her all the more. She had to endure a lot during “These Broken Stars” and I really liked the direction that Amie and Meagan took when writing her. I also thought that these two authors did a good job of creating a mature and intelligent relationship between Tarver and Lilac; they saved each other repeatedly, which I liked. It wasn’t just Lilac being a damsel, and it wasn’t about making the girl a macho female who refused everyone who offered her a hand. Tarver and Lilac trusted and relied on each other and they worked together, and I thought that was an interesting and refreshing spin on a survival story. In the end, I liked Lilac a lot and I am looking forward to seeing her do a cameo of sorts in “This Shattered World.”
Tarver Merendsen was a really good male lead. He was interesting and well-developed from the start of “These Broken Stars,” and I liked that throughout the book you got glimpses of his family and back story. I also really liked how Amie and Meagan chose to tie Avon and his career as a soldier so closely together. Now that I’ve read this book twice and I know the premise of “This Shattered World,” I could imagine Avon before the second book even came out, and it really got me excited to uncover the secrets of the restless planet.
There are so many little things that add up to make a great leading character, so I honestly don’t know exactly what it was that made me like Tarver so much. He was smart, interesting, and he had a good heart and you could tell that he loved his family and would do anything just to make it home to them. It made me really want to know what he was like before he enlisted. I also thought that towards the end it was interesting the choice Amie and Meagan made to write something so shocking for a YA novel. All I can say is that extraterrestrial beings and danger were involved, and I was kinda like,
until the book ended. I am very curious as to what these two wonderful authors have up their sleeves for “This Shattered World.”
Overall, a really good book and I am very happy that I gave it a second try.