Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive – alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth.
The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.
I went in reading These Broken Stars with an expectation: that it would be an epic adventure set in space. I love the feeling of being so small in an infinite universe. There’s something about it that fills me with awe and wonder. Based on this, it would seem that These Broken Stars had everything going for it, and reading its grand and profound book summary, I believed that I would adore These Broken Stars.
Whilst These Broken Stars is not a bad book (it’s actually a very enjoyable book), for a book that seems to promise an incredible adventure, the story remains, literally, rooted to the ground. The beginning was fantastic; extremely imaginative and compelling with undertones of a world torn by classism and war, but we never saw much of that after the spaceliner, Icarus, crashes. In a way, I felt like the potential of this novel, to be something epic and beyond my imagination, crashed with that ship.
If you haven’t read These Broken Stars, you should know that this is first and foremost a romance. That is not a bad thing at all; I love a good romance and I do not think the book would be better without it. In fact, the romance develops at an excellent and realistic pace, and the circumstances of the romance – tycoon’s daughter, heiress to the most powerful corporation in the universe, and young jaded war hero with a humble upbringing fall in love with heavy consequences – are profound and extraordinary in its own way. There is also some fantastic character development, in which the two characters change, shedding the facades that their social stations required. I especially enjoyed Lilac’s characterization; for someone who understood the importance of propriety and appearances, I understood and empathized with her stubbornness. However, romance (and everything else, for that matter) eclipses the worldbuilding – the latter being my biggest disappointment with These Broken Stars.
Take note of a small part of the summary which seems insignificant in the midst of everything else: “Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help.” For a small line that seems inconsequential, the trekking business takes up a significant portion of the book. True, they do discover some secrets on the world they are stranded in, but it is, for pages on end, Lilac and Tarver journeying across the planet. It isn’t without action – it is then do we see the characters develop and their romance blossom.
And yet, for its genre, These Broken Stars lacks the ambition to become greater. It lacks the otherworldly adventures and the vivid imagination of something in space, where anything is possible. Though this is somewhat adhered to in the last portion of the book, particularly with its adoption of more fantastical, hard science-fiction elements, this feels largely disjointed from the proceeding story. Though Lilac and Tarver are stranded on a deserted planet which, yes, has its mysteries, the world ultimately poses very few dangers that do not fascinate or delight. In other words, it didn’t quite inspire me.
One thing is true: in the realm of YA, These Broken Stars, and perhaps the Starbound trilogy is a breath of fresh air. Kaufman and Spooner’s beautifully crafted, seamless narrative is a highlight of the book, and, for what it is, the ingenuity of These Broken Stars and what it tries to be is something to be admired. Nonetheless, despite my criticisms of These Broken Stars, it is a decent book that is enjoyable to read and quick to devour.
Book Name: These Broken Stars
Book Series: Starbound #1
Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Publisher: Listening Library