Review: ‘This Shattered World’ by Amie Kaufman and Meagan SpoonerPosted: June 28, 2016
Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.
Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet’s rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.
Rebellion is in Flynn’s blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.
Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.
This Shattered World is the second book in the Starbound trilogy (I reviewed the first book, These Broken Stars, here.) You don’t strictly need to read the first book to understand this one, though it provides useful backstory and introduces you to the delightful Tarver and Lilac. That pair make a brief appearance here, and if you don’t know who they are then that won’t be as squee-worthy as it otherwise would be. Which obviously would be a shame.
Although the meta-plot from the first book continues, This Shattered World is quite a different story. It’s set maybe a year later and is a lot more action packed, with a bigger cast of characters, but a lot less of a survival story. (I adored the survival aspects of the first book, but YMMV.) For some reason I found it a little slow to get into, though I suspect that was me and not the book — and once I got engrossed, it zipped along despite the length.
Romance-wise, I didn’t ship Jubilee and Flynn to the same extent I did Lilac and Tarver, but there are some extremely sweet lines and naww moments that gave me many feels. They are a bit of a Romeo and Juliet couple, in terms of their warring “families” — Jubilee even calls him Romeo to start with, until she learns his name. And I liked that they weren’t professing undying love right from the get-go. (Unlike Romeo and Juliet, now that I think about it.)
As far as the story goes, I personally didn’t find any of the plot-twists earth-shattering or anything, and there certainly wasn’t the OMGWTF moment I had with These Broken Stars, but it was enjoyable enough. Likewise, I liked the little disjointed fragments of Jubilee’s missing dreams at the start of each chapter, though they weren’t as tantilising as Tarver’s post-rescue interview.
I feel like I’m being unfair to This Shattered World, in a way, by constantly comparing it to the first book, which was — to me — very slightly better across the board.
Actually, make that almost across the board. The one place where This Shattered World shines is in having a much wider array of character backgrounds — Jubilee’s mother was Chinese and her father “had dark skin” (though I don’t think his ethnicity is ever revealed … or maybe I missed it?). One of her good friends on the base, Molly, is a Chinese-heritage man who is trying to reconnect with his roots. Avon, the planet the story takes place on, has been colonised by Irish-heritage settlers, so there are elements of their culture too. It’s a shame that the multicultural, especially Chinese, elements aren’t hugely strong, maybe because both Molly and Jubilee weren’t steeped in that culture as children, but it’s still good to see a book with a kick-butt biracial model on the cover.
Finally, the comment I made on These Broken Stars about the characters’ ages stands here too. They are weirdly young for their level of experience. Jubilee is only 18 and is some sort of super-soldier (exactly like Tarver was in the first book). I’m not clear on how old Flynn is, but I expect he’s about the same age. I know that this universe ages characters young, with military enlistment at 16, but I constantly imagined Jubilee and Flynn as being in their mid-twenties, and by now Tarver and Lilac are surely in their late twenties (not 19 and 17)!
Still, I’ve already bought the third book in the series and I can’t wait to see how the meta-plot resolves itself.