Title: These Broken Stars
Authors: Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Series: Starbound #1
Genre: Teen Science Fiction
Rating: 2.5 stars
The Overview: 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 tortuous 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?
I requested These Broken Stars from Netgalley a week or so before its publication date (it had been available for months) for two main reasons: I finally figured out it was a teen sci-fi (which is a new trend I’m loving) and because almost all the book bloggers I follow were raving about it. Usually, word in the book blogosphere is fairly reliable because most of the bloggers are incredibly well read in their chosen genres. Even so, it’s always dangerous to pick up something with high expectations and, for this novel, blown away I was not.
Keep in mind that my taste for books extend beyond the teen genre and I have read and loved many adult science fiction novels – many of which involved humans trying to survive in alien-infested hostile worlds. I think I went into it expecting a world at least somewhat different from our own… and instead was given a landscape practically indistinguishable from any wooded area in the Western United States, and very minuscule alien interactions. The technology was at least futuristic, but nothing truly groundbreaking.
You can see how certain expectations going into a book can really affect your enjoyment of it. If I had gone in wanting a teen love story with a slight science-fiction influence (as I’m sure most readers did) I think I would’ve liked it a lot more. Expectations aside, however, I noted a few other things that could have made the story stronger. For example, the authors spend an exorbitant amount of time having the protagonists bicker at one another. At first, it added a little extra drama to the story, but then the ship crashed (making survival, in my opinion, a much more important conflict) and yet the faux dislike act between Lilac and Tarver continued to be the main arc through most of the book. It came across a bit silly and superficial considering the circumstances and I think it could’ve been toned down considerably without losing any impact.
At least there were some things I really enjoyed about These Broken Stars, the writing style the most prominent of them. It was written in a highly engaging manner that made you want to drop everything and find out what happened next. Once I knew what to expect, I allowed it to take me where it would and really appreciated how seamlessly the story unfolded. I also enjoyed the connection between the two characters (after they finally stopped bickering) and thought their true personalities and relationship was the strongest part of the novel. Each perspective was evoking, allowing you to really put yourself in their shoes and feel what they were feeling.
Overall, I am pretty sure I am mostly alone in my slightly underwhelming appraisal of this book, so if you’re planning on reading it, take my review with a grain of salt. I’ve read at least half a dozen other reviews from people who absolutely loved it – many of whom included it as one of their top ten books of the year.
Recommended Reading: I would hand this book to someone who wants an epic love story; someone who also likes teen books with a bit of action/adventure. For me, it didn’t really capture that sci-fi feel that other teen books like Alienated or even Zenn Scarlett have done, so I would not emphasize that as a selling point.
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