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 though. These Broken Stars was most definitely my most anticipated release of 2013, with that cover luring me in like sirens do sailors at sea ever since its release announcement. I mean, that cover is probably the most beautiful thing I had seen all year. It has the perfect space odyssey/mythology ratio that just did it for me even way before I knew what the whole story was about. I was so, so happy when These Broken Stars became everything I had hoped for. I finished it in three hours without a single break because, yup, it was that good.
These Broken Stars has been helmed as ‘Titanic in space’ so often I couldn’t pass a chance to mention it. It’s a perfect tagline, really, for a story about two star-crossed lovers who travel through space on one of the most advanced ships ever built. Here’s the thing, though, where These Broken Stars manages to make a name of it’s very own – we leave behind the Titanic disaster element of the story fairly early on, morphing into a haunting survival story that reveals evermore injustices of this sci-fi dystopian universe. After the Icarus crashes on an unknown planet, the two leads are faced with an unexplored terrain, an eerie presence that radiates through the lands, and whether or not to they have the will and reason to make it out of this tragedy alive.
The book’s opening chapters are incredibly spot-on. We meet both main characters, Lilac LaRoux – daughter to the richest man in the galaxy – and Tarver Merendsen – the youngest war hero of said galaxy – right in the beginning. We immediately know they’re going to be in each other’s lives for far longer than initially set up as, and yet you keep wondering that maybe their stories aren’t going to intertwine for long at all. And that is what makes the crash and their subsequent journey together so much more compelling, because as much as we have learned about them as individuals, they have both so far acted out choices that would have had them not cross paths ever again. Most of the time, early meetings throw me off because I’d rather have a little bit of mystery within the plot, but both Lilac’s and Tarver’s inner monologues work their magic so convincingly, I didn’t mind once. There are doubts about their standpoints all the way through the story, and I think it takes a lot of skill to create characters that are both likable one instance and then dislikeable the next as they temporarily fall back into old patterns. It’s the easiest way to just go ahead and form perfect heroes and heroines out of words who do nothing wrong or who have a character development as fast as light travels, but Kaufman and Spooner have done a wonderful job to create real people instead of plot twist agents. Lilac and Tarver are both stubborn and condescending at times, and yet they are loyal, steadfast and compassionate, too. They both start off the journey with different morals and goals, yet manage to find a common ground throughout their track across the planet’s grass planes and rocky hills, and there’s just something about the connection they form that resonated deeply with me. They really just work so well together. The backdrop of the galaxy being but a small map due to the invention of hyperspace travel further made for such a unique mash with what Lilac and Tarver have to face at the end of the road, and that originality had be tear through the pages as fast as I could. The final 30% or so of the book had me gasping over every new chapter, there are so many bizarre things happening that made for a grandiose finale.
The book’s structure is something that I feel needs a special mention, because every chapter has a 1-page-preface of sorts that consists of dialogue only from an interview being conducted with Tarver that took place at the end of the book. It created a heart-stopping suspense as well as some funny moments. I honestly can’t wait for the second book to arrive, even though that one will be about two new characters, but I’m 100% convinced it will be just as epic as this one. There’s a lot to tell about Kaufman and Spooner’s universe, and I can’t wait to see it unfold!