Tuesday, December 17, 2013
These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
I hate the cover. And the title is silly. And it's too bad because I actually quite enjoyed the book. But if I hadn't gotten it as an ARC I probably would have never bothered to pick it up because, well, it looks like completely fluff, right? Publishers keep hyping this as "Titanic in space," which doesn't make any sense after reading this. OK, yes, big fancy thing (in this case, a spaceship) crashes and no one ever thought such a thing could happen. Lots of people die. And I guess there's the class issue. But otherwise? Not Titanic in space.
But anyway. To the book itself. I'm not sure if I can talk about this without there being spoilers. So this is your spoiler warning.
This could have been a fairly typical romance, where a boy and a girl who hate each other are thrown together in difficult circumstances and their hate turns to love. And it was that, but it was more than that. Lilac and Tarver didn't actually hate each other when they first met on board the Icarus, the most amazing, fanciest ship ever to be built. Tarver, however, didn't realize who Lilac was. Otherwise he never would have spoken to her. Lilac doesn't think she'll see Tarver again (the ship is huge) before she leaves, but when they bump into each other again, Lilac knows she must cut their ties or else Tarver might be in danger. So she does in the only way she knows how, with rich girl to poor boy cruelty. Lilac is sure now Tarver thinks she's just another stuck up snob, and Tarver is sure Lilac thinks of him as if he's nothing.
The Icarus is traveling in hyperspace when something goes horribly wrong. The ship is pulled out of hyperspace, causing it to break apart. Tarver saves Lilac from the mob rushing to the escape pods and gets her in a pod. Then, when the power short circuits, Lilac is able to hot wire the pod to get them off the ship. This becomes a common theme. Tarver and Lilac save each other again and again.
Lilac is certainly in for some culture shock from the planet they crash land on. She's never been in an environment where practically everything, from the plants to the weather to the food was not carefully controlled. The planet shows signs of being terraformed (whenever I hear "terraformed" I always think Firefly) but there are no people. No settlement anywhere. Tarver is in his element. He's a solider and has spent plenty of time on different planets. Although never one where there seemed to be no people.
Lilac and Tarver both have strong personalities. They are both grieving for what they've lost. They will not let themselves comfort each other, and at first spend their days sniping and each other and being mean. Lilac talks down to Tarver, Tarver mocks Lilac's uselessness. They both assume they'll be rescued. Lilac is the daughter to the richest man in the galaxy! But no one comes. And the more they discover of the planet, the stranger and more wrong it seems. And then Lilac starts hearing voices. There's something strange and secret hidden on the planet. And it's leading them somewhere.
Tarver and Lilac do fall in love with each other, but it's not all at once. Lilac comes to admire how skilled Tarver is at handling himself in the wilderness, and Tarver admires how tough Lilac is, and wonders where a girl like her learned about mechanics. They are able to let down their defenses, especially when it seems like they're not getting off the planet any time soon.
What happened at the end with Lilac was really weird. I don't want to give anything away though, that would be too much of a spoiler. But I didn't fully understand it. It was some interesting world building, and I want to see where it's all going to go. These Broken Stars is the first book in a trilogy, but they're all going to be companion novels. The next book won't focus around Lilac and Tarver, but will take place in the same universe, and we will learn more about what's happening in the world. I like that idea, of not focusing on the same characters the whole time. I wouldn't be surprised if they popped up in some way, even if they're not the main focus.
I want to know more about the consequences of the Icarus crashing. Do people know it crashed and everyone was killed, except Lilac and Tarver? Do people think it's lost in space somewhere? Is there a cover up? Lots of questions.
Good read for those who like romance. Good read for those who like science fiction, but don't want super technical science fiction. Recommended!