Bent but not Broken in ‘These Broken Stars’

13138635These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Disney Hyperion, December 10, 2013 (Young Adult, Science Fiction)*

I’m loving this new trend in YA for more spacey sci-fi for teens. It’s not really something that I feel was around all that much when I was a teen, or I wasn’t interested in sci-fi back when (although that’s hard for me to fathom since I was a huge Jaws fan). These Broken Stars is the first of these spacey-style books to come on to my radar and the first I’ve read. Overall, the experience was a positive one.

Tarver Merendsen is an eighteen-year-old war hero living in a neo-Victorian age. He’s aboard the luxury spaceship, the Icarus, doing a PR campaign. He’s a low born kid that’s made it big, and the bigwigs want him seen rubbing elbows with the elite. One of these elites is Lilac LaRoux, daughter of the richest man in the universe. She orchestrates a meeting with Tarver, but ultimately brushes him off because of what her father made happen the last time a boy got close to her. Yes, the teen angst is alive and well, and I love it!

Tarver’s quite peeved with Lilac’s set down, but follows his chivalric impulses when they are the only survivors when the Icarus crashes. On this strange planet, Tarver and Lilac have to battle the elements and the mysterious presence they encounter. They both begin to wonder if someone is leading them to a specific place on the planet, and they have to wonder if this force is malevolent or not. On top of the elements, Tarver and Lilac also have to battle each other, of made more difficult because teenagers do not ever communicate what they are really thinking; or so it seems here. While continued misunderstanding between the pair could have irritated, it actually led to some fantastic tension.

For the most part, I really loved These Broken Stars. A romance between the classes? A neo-Victorian setting? Stranded like the Swiss Family Robinsons? Um, what’s not to like??? The tension between Tarver and Lilac for the first three quarters of the book was fantastic; I loved the bickering and how they struggled with one another despite the need for the other to survive on the unknown planet they have crash landed on. Each chapter is alternated between Tarver and Lilac, so while they misunderstand each other, the reader never feels out of the loop, and I loved this technique.

I can also understand the comparisons I’ve been reading about These Broken Stars as a Titanic in space. Tarver and Lilac were of obvious difference classes (just like Jack and Rose) on a luxury liner, and Lilac had certain expectations coming from her controlling father. I liked the use of this trope in These Broken Stars, although I have a little bit of difficulty with why a class division exists between the two, especially considering Tarver is an eighteen-year-old war hero (yes, some suspension of disbelief is needed here). Personally, I would have liked a little bit more world-building in terms of this futuristic society and I hope that more is explained in the subsequent books.

Now, as to why I haven’t given These Broken Stars a five-star review; for those that are adverse to knowing what’s going to happen, be warned that there are spoilers ahead. The last quarter of the book fell a little felt to me. As I said, there was a ton of tension between Tarver and Lilac as they survive on the mysterious planet, and in the last quarter this tension was resolved. It was clear where the relationship between Lilac and Tarver was going, but I felt blindsided that it happened so quickly (clearly, I’ve read too much angsty teen lit). Tarver and Lilac were just a little too sickly sweet as a couple for my taste and I found it harder to finish the book once they embarked on a romantic relationship. But of course, this tranquility between the pair doesn’t last for long, but when they were together, I felt the plot slowed significantly. In the end, the build-up to the relationship was better than the relationship between Tarver and Lilac, at least, from my point of view. I’d been interested to see where the authors take the relationship since it’s very obvious that they will have some challenges ahead.

Overall, I quite enjoyed These Broken Stars and I am curious about the world that the authors have created. I will be back for the next book in the series because I’m curious about what will happen to Tarver and Lilac now that they are off the desereted planet and back in the real world. I’m looking forward to more spacey teen books, two that have caught my eyes are Tin Star and The Almost Girl, both of which I have a review copy, so stay tuned to find out if they live up to my expectations.

*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

Similar Reads

Song of Scarabaeus (Scarabaeus, #1)For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #1)Academy 7Cinder (Lunar Chronicles, #1)

There was a lot to like in These Broken Stars and it immediately brought to mind two books that I’ve read in the past. The first is Sara Creasey’s Scarabaeus duology, which similar world building in terms of terra forming new plants; however, be aware that it’s an adult book and geared more as a sci-fi than a romance (although there is a tad there, as well). The second book to come to mind is Diana Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars. There was something about the writing style that struck a similar note, not to mention an intriguing class division in a futuristic Luddite society. As other similar reads, I’ve also included Anne Osterlund’s Academy 7, which is a little bit of a lighter read with the same theme of class between the two leads, although in this case the heroine is of the lower class and the hero is of the higher. And lastly, I’m going to throw Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles in the mix since I think the romance as aspect in Meyer’s world will appeal to fans of the romance in These Broken Stars.

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