These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. Disney Hyperion, 2013.
First of all, look at this cover. Just look at it. It’s so shiny. I swear, every time I pick up or put down this book, I have to admire it. Wow.
Ok, so I read this book because one of my favorite Youtubers, Kristina Horner, talked about it a lot and I trust her taste. It’s a YA sci-fi romance, the first in a trilogy called Starbound. I will admit my expectations were that this book would be the kind of shallow, kitschy YA sf romance in my head, but man was I proven wrong.
The story really only has 2 characters, Tarver and Lilac. I would describe this book as Titanic-in-space-meets-Castaway…that is, if Jack and Rose both lived and got marooned on an island together after the ship sank and had to find a way to survive. That’s the basic plot: this giant, state-of-the-art, fancy-pants space ship cruiser (appropriately named the Icarus) crashes on an uninhabited planet, and Tarver and Lilac are the only survivors. Lilac is the daughter of the man who owns the corporation that built the ship, and she is basically royalty. Tarver is a war hero who comes from a much humbler background. Normally the two would never even dream of forming a relationship due to this difference in social standing, but when you’re the only two people who have crash-landed on an uncharted planet, it’s probably hard too not to form a relationship….
And man does this book have great relationship building! The ship crashes within the first few chapters of the book, so the rest of the entire book is about Lilac and Tarver trying to survive. The authors do an excellent job of showing the slow and steady growth of their relationship. Each chapter is narrated from alternating points of view between the two of them, which is effective. It is not the kitschy sf adventure/romance I expected, and I was oh-so pleasantly surprised. It’s a slow-burn read with just the right amount of plot.
The other major plot point is that though they seem to be alone on this planet, there is a mysterious presence of other potential life forms which starts to creep into the story, and without revealing any major spoilers, this part of the book was really freakin cool. However, if you are a sci-fi fan in general, this particular plot line is probably familiar to you and you will most likely be able to call the shots and predict in advance what is going to happen. That being said, even though I predicted a lot of the outcomes of this book, that didn’t really hurt the reading experience all that much because it was so gripping and well-written anyway. The writing style is very mature and sophisticated for YA, and this series could easily fall under the regular sci-fi genre for adults.
I dock this book a star (I don’t award a 5th star lightly) for the aforementioned predictability, and also for the fact that once Tarver and Lilac finally break the sexual tension (spolier, sorry, but come on, you knew it was going to happen), their romantic relationship reads a bit campy and cliché. Other than that, I loved it, and I am definitely going to continue reading this trilogy; the next book follows a different couple in the same universe and sounds just as good, if not better than the first.