Friday, 14 March 2014

Review || These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars (Starbound #1) by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner ★★★★☆
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.

This book completely took me by surprise. I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. It's sort of been on my radar for a while now, but I'd been putting it off--or, at least, it wasn't very high on my priority list.

A lot of people have been describing this as "Titanic-in-space". And, admittedly, I wasn't really super intrigued by the comparison. Hence, the putting it off.

You guys, if that is the only thing holding you back from reading this, do yourself a favour and forget that comparison immediately. And then go out and acquire a copy of this book.

While "Titanic-in-space" isn't inaccurate per se, it completely fails to capture the essence of this book. Yes, we have two young people from different social castes thrust together by circumstance. Yes, the ship they're on goes down. But that all happens relatively quickly in the book.

What the comparison fails to illustrate is the aftermath of all of this. Lilac and Tarver have to learn to work together, live together, survive together. To trust each other. To become dependent on each other. The writing and the mood of this story is just superb. Completely unlike anything I've read in YA sci-fi. 60 pages in, I was muttering to myself, "I am super into this..."

There's this fascinating balance that evolves between Tarver and Lilac as the story progresses. At first, it seem inequitable, because Tarver is the experienced one and Lilac's high society upbringing does her no good. But they have to lean on each other throughout this novel. As we learn more about them, each of them has their own strengths (and their own weaknesses). It was a really refreshing relationship.

And oh, the slow burn. What develops between them is fragile and precarious, but it's tension done so well. I am definitely more of a drawn-out-romance kind of girl and this book just hit all the right notes for me.

The back and forth narrative between the perspectives was well done as well. But what really stood out for me was Tarver's interrogation scenes that prefaced each chapter. Just those few lines of simple dialogue were so well crafted and intriguing.

That said, it wasn't a perfect book for me. The ending, while really cool, seemed a bit anti-climatic upon reflection. After all the building and all the mystery, it was almost disappointing in its resolution.

And then... there are my thoughts on some super spoilers. (Highlight to read.)

I don't know, I think the book almost would've been more compelling for Lilac to have been dead and stay dead. It was a huge blow to me. I was reading at school on my prep and was like, "You can't do this to me! I can't cry over this book at school!" It was just so good. So unexpected.

Though, admittedly, I also have no idea how you'd get Tarver out of this situation without Lilac. Not only was she instrumental in the distress signal, but in Tarver's motivation too. I really liked seeing Tarver slipping into a haze of depression without Lilac--too often I think grief and mourning get brushed aside in YA.

So, I don't know how it all would've worked out, so I understand the choice the authors' made. But still.

Overall, this book was so good. I had no idea what was going to happen to these characters and how this was all going to get resolved. It was the best kind of tantalizing, all around.

If you're into YA sci-fi, definitely check it out.