Review: ‘These Broken Stars’ by Amie Kaufman and Meagan SpoonerPosted: September 22, 2014
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?
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.
These Broken Stars is my kind of science fiction story; that is, I didn’t need to have a degree in astrophysics or robotic engineering to follow the intricacies of the plot. I’m sure there’s a name for that kind of sci-fi, but I call it “soft”, as opposed to the hard, science-y sort. Another name for it would be “science-magic” — don’t ask how the science works; IT JUST DOES. Wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff.
In fact, most of this story actually takes place on the surface of a planet and is relatively low-tech. It’s more of a survival stories. And I love survival stories. LOVE THEM. It’s one of the reasons the first two books in The Hunger Games trilogy were five-star reads for me. I’ve seen some reviewers comment that the slogging-across-the-countryside stuff bored them a little, but not me. There was just enough juicy plot being revealed as the journey took place, and enough obstacles thrown in Lilac and Tarver’s path, to make it interesting.
Lilac and Tarver are great. The alternating point of view in (almost) each chapter gives us some great insights into their personalities, without which I probably would’ve written Lilac off as a spoiled society girl in the first ten seconds. As it is, being able to see how she’s feeling and thinking about things, and those glimpses of technical competence, made her a much more interesting personality. She still grows tremendously during the story, though; the journey gives her a new strength. Tarver is already a more well-rounded person, so his story is less about personal growth and more about the challenges of the situation he’s been thrust into.
The only qualm I had about Lilac and Tarver was their ages. Tarver is a war hero at 18, while Lilac is a 16-year-old princess (figuratively speaking) with a knack for electronics. I get that in this world people are being forced into adulthood younger — Tarver enlisted at 16 — but it still weirded me out every time I was reminded of their age.
On another note, I mentioned that the plot was juicy. There’s a twist in here that made me GOL (that’s “gasp out loud”). Loved it. I also really enjoyed the little interview excerpts with Tarver between each chapter, where he’s being interrogated post-rescue. They do make it clear from the first chapter that he, at least, survives the crash, but the questions they raise in turn piqued my curiosity.
The only thing that makes me sad is that I see the sequel follows another couple. I hope we get to see more of Lilac and Tarver down the track.
Oh, and since Amie Kaufman is from Melbourne (even though Meagan Spooner is an American), this TOTALLY counts for my Australian Women Writers challenge. 😉