Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Review: These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars (Starbound, book one)
By Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Expected publication December 10, 2013 by Disney Hyperion

The Icarus, a luxury spaceliner, is cruising along just fine when suddenly disasters strikes. The ship is pulled out of orbit and crashes. Lilac LaRoux, daughter of the richest man in the universe, finds herself in an escape pod with Tarver Merendsen, a war hero. When they crash on an unusual planet, seemingly the only survivors of the Icarus disaster, they must learn to survive. But something is very strange about this planet - will it let them survive?

I picked up a galley of this at TLA I think and finally picked it up at the beginning of November. I actually didn't expect to finish it before the release day, so I was pleasantly surprised when I did.

I may have mentioned a time or two previously that I'm not a huge fan of books that take place in space, which this one quite clearly does. With that knowledge, I wasn't really expecting much from this book. Unexpectedly, I found myself enjoying it more than I expected. My main stumbling block with this book was that, no matter how far into it I got, I couldn't stop thinking of it as "Titanic in space."

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. And, really, the book is not just Titanic in space. Yes, the ship is described as a luxury liner and Lilac is a member of the upper-class who gets thrown in with a rough-and-tumble soldier (and, of course, the sparks fly). Additionally, the "indestructible" Icarus meets with disaster and the crash reads a lot like a description of the Titanic sinking. But, Lilac and Tarver actually land somewhere, and the story becomes more about their survival on a land that is completely different than anything they've known. However, I got that phrase into my head right from the start and couldn't shake it while reading.

On its own, it's a pretty typical star-crossed lovers, survival tale. I liked the characters (in spite of their absurd names - seriously, this is why I could never write a science fiction novel) well enough, but I found the "star-crossed" aspect of their story a bit ridiculous. Yes, Lilac does have reason to hesitate at her feelings for Tarver, but mostly, it just seemed silly that they both felt they could never be together because of who they were. The survival aspect was well-done, and I think it was pulled off quite nicely with the alternating chapter viewpoints. I enjoyed the strange new aspects of the planet on which Lilac and Tarver find themselves, though I'm not sure the science of it would hold up.

I knew that this was the first in a trilogy (it's declared all over the ARC), but I've just discovered that the books won't feature the same characters; they simply take place in the same universe. I like this approach - it's worked pretty well for Diana Peterfreund and her For Darkness Shows the Stars series, so I'll be interested to see if it works here as well.

Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.

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