Hardcover, 384 pages
Expected publication: December 10th 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Net Galley
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.
I waded into These Broken Stars not knowing what it was about or what sub-genre of YA it fit into. I remembered being intrigued by the synopsis back when I first added the novel to my to read list so I figured I was good. I also did not know that the novel was a collaboration between two different authors, a good thing in this case, and so I had no expectations and no biases when I started reading it.
The similarities between the space ship and Titanic are striking. The division of the classes, the hubris of its creators and the tragic end all point to Titanic and while I am not sure whether this was an intentional allusion, I appreciated its presence. The novel is told in alternating third person limited point of view and this is where the distinct voices of the authors comes across. Usually, I am not a fan of the alternating perspectives in novels because it takes skill to distinguish between two voices and most often it just ends up sounding like the same person under a different name (and gender). If both points of view are first person, that’s even worse. However, in These Broken Stars, Kaufman and Spooner manage to make Tarver and Lilac sound like two separate and distinct people without their styles and voices clashing.
I also liked the frame structure of the novel. It is obviously a recounting of the events that occurred while Tarver and Lilac were stranded on the planet so on the one hand, it is assuring the reader that both protagonists have somehow survived the event but at the same time, the reader is privy to the events that occurs but Tarver chooses to keep hidden. For the bulk of the novel, Lilac and Tarver are the only two characters in the present in the novel and this was handled quite exceptionally by maintaining a constant level of tension but allowing for some downtime once and again. The romance is sweet without being too consuming and I liked how it is a gradual development though there is instant attraction between the two.
The novel is a strong one. It manages to be unpredictable and innovative. I do wish we had seen more of the father but I think that we will in the sequel. I appreciated that there is a shift in power near the end – we just have to wait and see what happens and how it’s handled. Lilac’s relationship with her father is troubling and I would have liked to read more scenes discussing that. When all is said and done, however, I truly enjoyed this novel; therefore, I recommend it to you.