Sunday, December 15, 2013

Book Review: These Broken Stars

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.  Quoted from Goodreads


This book is the scifi version of Titanic meets Hatchet

Seriously. The first fifth is completely Titanic, including the ridiculously rich girl trapped in her life who meets the poor boy who is dragged to parties with the rich because he's a war hero, but they know he doesn't fit in. She even has red hair. And the ship is called the Icarus! I love, love, love that the author decided to name her doomed ship this.  It says so much about Lilac's father, his hubris, and the aurthors' love of foreshadowing.

Once they get down on the planet, the story changes and really comes into its own. It's creepy, mysterious, and gruesomely tragic. It's not that the first part isn't good, because it is.  It's just a twist on something everyone's already seen, but I really liked how the author developed and established the world before the crash.  After, it's half survival story, one third mystery and a spattering of romance, which rounds everything out nicely.  We get wild animals, a strange planet, and Lilac's questionable sanity.

The book is told from duel POVs, and I'll be honest, I found Lilac rather annoying at first, especially contrasted with Tarver.  She's so spoiled and rather cruel.  It's not that the author doesn't give her justification for her actions, but I didn't enjoy her POV at first as much as Tarver's.  Still, she's probably the one who develops most as the book progresses, and I ended up really enjoying her character and the person she becomes.

Each chapter begins with an interview/debriefing about what happened on the planet, which I have mixed feelings about. Half of me liked it because it adds another layer of tension.  You see what Tarver lies about and how what happened down there is part of a bigger picture.  There are also some rather ominous questions that foreshadow larger events in the story. On the other hand, I'm not sure how well I liked knowing Tarver would get off the planet.  Of course I hoped he would.  Knowing how the death of a certain character in another YA series affected my affection for it, I'd be really angry if he didn't, but it did remove all doubt, so when bad things happened to him, you knew it would all work out in the end.

The book isn't particularly fast paced, though it has it's mad-dash moments.  It's a long survival journey though a mysterious planet full of whispers, ghosts, and visions, along with the more mundane problems like wild animals, harsh weather, crashed pieces of the Icarus, and the planet's lack of inhabitants.

As far as plot goes, it's kind of crazy, full of twists and turns.  Just remember this is a scifi story. It's easy to forget for a while after the crash when Tarver and Lilac are trying to survive, roughing it in the wild, but the mystery is grounded in science fiction in a rather mind-boggling sort of way. I won't say anything more because I don't want to give it away, but I did enjoy it. I'm actually quite curious where the second book is going to go because this could end right here and be a perfectly excellent stand-alone novel.

All in all, I'm going to award this book a high 4 stars.  It's fun, inventive, and different from a lot of YA out there. Plus, it's got a little something for everyone.  Action? Check.  Romance? Check. Interesting characters? Check. Mystery? Check.  Survival?  Check. Opulence? Check.  Horror? Check.  Man vs. Nature? Check.  The list just keeps going.

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