Their Fractured Light by Aimee Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. Disney-Hyperion, 2015.
I finally finished the Starbound Trilogy! And what a trilogy it was!
I thoroughly enjoyed this entire series and recommend you check out my reviews of the first and second books if you are interested. Many of you know Aimee Kaufman from the popular Illuminae Files, and I daresay I prefer these books to the Illuminae series (though I’m probably in the minority in that opinion). The world was rich, the characters engaging, and the plot well-crafted. Let’s talk about book 3.
I’m a sucker for stories with characters who have separate plot lines that all converge at the end. This last book does exactly that in one of the most satisfying “all the characters FINALLY come together” scenes in recent memory. Each book in the trilogy follows a different couple as they struggle through the same science fictional universe, and it was wonderful to see it all finally tie in.
Here come the spoilery bits.
One of the things I wasn’t 100% satisfied with was the romance in this book. The relationship between Sophia and Gideon was compelling, however, I’m not sure feelings based on lust and lies (and trauma) stand a chance in the long run, as the authors seem to believe. The development of their relationship was interesting because it was unique – I feel like you don’t typically see this complex web-of-lies type of relationship in YA often, where the characters are clearly attracted to one another but are also clearly aware they can’t trust the other and don’t even know the first real thing about each other. That was well done. I really enjoyed reading the development of that relationship. But turning it into genuine love in the final scene where everything is peaches and cream, I’m not convinced. I honestly think it’d be more realistic if Gideon and Sophia went their separate ways, but I suppose I appreciated the happy ending. This is a Disney publication after all.
Speaking of happy endings, I will say that I am SOOOO happy everyone made it out alive! You don’t have to kill off characters in order to have an emotionally impactful book, people! I was worried for a moment there (if Lilac or Tarver died, there would have been hell to pay), but oh-so-relieved that the book still maintained high emotional impact without killing any of the big 6. The traumatic events in the plot (i.e. the destruction of half the planet/death of millions of people) were enough to get me emotionally invested in the story – and especially in Sophia’s character since it was kinda her fault.
Regarding the plot line, I liked how they made Lilac’s father into a slightly more sympathetic villain in the end, rather than simplifying him into an out-and-out bad guy. The “beings” from the rift were integrated nicely so that the plot was not convoluted, as seems to be a common critique of mine when it comes to some science fiction plots. They didn’t write themselves into a plot so complex that the resolution flopped, which was something I was potentially afraid of.
I still think book 1 was the best book in the series, though that isn’t saying much. Each book definitely holds its own and is enjoyable as a stand-alone. There is no weak link in the bunch. The reason I preferred book 1 was because it was more character-driven than plot-driven (which was a surprise to me when I first read it), and that’s just a personal preference of mine. This is a series that I may even reread because I enjoyed it so much. Book 3 gets 4/5 stars, as does the whole series!