These Broken Stars
Series: Starbound #1
Genre: YA Science Fiction / Romance
Released: November 20 2013 by 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 torturous 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.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I first wanted to read this book out of pure cover lust. I mean, just look at that cover, it's gorgeous! But once I read the blurb, that sealed the deal. Although, I will admit that the whole Titanic in space thing made me a little bit nervous (it's no secret that I hate Titanic more than any other film I've seen), but those nerves were completely calmed down once I actually picked up the book and read it. And despite a few little problems that I can easily shove aside, I really enjoyed These Broken Stars!
These Broken Stars follows Major Tarver Merendsen, a decorated soldier, and Lilac LaRoux, daughter of the richest man in the universe, who have been marooned on a deserted planet after the luxury starship they were on, the Icarus, was pulled out of hyperspace (basically the book's version of Warp Drive) too early and crashed, leaving Tarver and Lilac as the only survivors. The pacing of These Broken Stars is pretty steady; once the story gets going properly, everything goes at just the right pace, speeding up when something exciting happens, and getting incredibly tense when it's leading up to something particularly revealing. One thing that I'm incredibly happy about is that I felt like even though Lilac and Tarver are stranded on this planet with only basic essentials, the science fiction aspect isn't ignored at all. As for the romance part of the story, I'm glad that it was eased into rather than being total insta-love, and it also didn't force the science fiction part to take the back seat, which was such a huge relief. My only issue with the book's story is that it took a while for me to fully get into it, and I think after the ship crashes right at the beginning of the book, the pace is just a bit too slow. Thankfully, it does pick up the pace and gets more exciting. My reading experience with These Broken Stars is probably the best that I've had with a YA book in a short while. Once I'd gotten past the slower parts, I became really engrossed with the story, even having to stop and reflect on what had happened at times because I just had to take in what I'd just read. Plus, I'd started reading this will I was having a good book hangover, so I guess this book pulled me out of that and maybe into another one, although a minor one.
For a book that technically only has two characters, These Broken Stars pulls it off incredibly well by telling the story from both Tarver and Lilac's points of view. I'm sometimes a little particular about dual POVs, but I liked how it was done in These Broken Stars because the two POVs never really seemed the same to me, which is a problem that I sometimes have. The fact that Tarver and Lilac are our only two characters for the vast majority of the book really didn't bother me at all, because I liked them so much. Out of the two, I think I liked Lilac the most because of how much she grows as the story progresses. We see her go from being a spoilt rich kid who is way too concerned about what her father will think if he finds her with this soldier, to being a strong young woman who is able to do things for herself and gains the ability to take care of both herself and Tarver. Another thing that I liked about Lilac is that even while she is still the rich kid, she is incredibly smart and has the skills necessary to get their escape pod away from the dying ship, which just threw the bratty heiress stereotype not only out of the window but into a black hole. As for Tarver, I liked him but at a glance he seemed like a bit of a bland character. However, I grew to like him more and more as the story moved on as he became more and more devoted to keeping Lilac safe (even though she was then able to take care of herself).
As for the setting and world-building, I liked the setting but I do think that the world-building was a bit lacking. The setting of an uninhabited planet isn't exactly groundbreaking, but it did feel different to me in the sense that this planet has been terraformed - altered so that humans are able to live there - but there isn't a soul around. I think it gave off a more dangerous atmosphere rather than if it was just some random planet that they'd crashed into (of course, because they'd be dead as soon as they got out of the escape pod), because it looks seemingly safe but it's unknown what exactly is out there. As for the world-building, I don't think there was enough of it. We know that Lilac's father is the richest man in the universe and has made an empire out of terraforming planets and building luxury starships, but when did this start? When in the future is this world set? What exactly is the terraforming process and how exactly do all of these technologies work? For a sci-fi story, I don't think that there was enough world-building, which was on the wrong side of mysterious, and if those questions that I've posed above were answered, then the world-building would probably be a bit better.
Overall, I really enjoyed These Broken Stars; it was well written, exciting and even shocked me at times. I liked the characters, and the romance aspect, as well as the fact that it didn't completely force the sci-fi aspect out of the way. Although there were issues in world-building and the beginning of the book being a bit slow, I really enjoy reading this book. And I'm definitely looking forward to reading the novella This Dark So Night, and the full sequel This Shattered World later on in the year!