These Broken Stars, by Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman [Starbound #1]

✎Title: These Broken Stars (Starbound #1)
Author: Meagan Spooner and Amie Kaufman
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication date: 12th December 2013
Rating: ★★★★★

13138635These Broken Stars, by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner is the first in a trilogy of YA space-faring love stories, which ultimately brings two people together against overwhelming odds and through the vastness of both space and human nature. But These Broken Stars is more than just a YA romance—so much more. It’s atmospheric and engaging and incredibly compelling, with a vast range of scope for the rest of the series to come.

Meet Lilac LaRoux, daughter of insanely rich CEO of LaRoux Industries, savvy and classy and utterly trapped inside her golden cage. Enter Tarver, prodigy solider and ranking officer, promoted on the field and respected for his climb through the ranks. Their worlds are about to collide.

Aboard a luxurious space liner, Lilac is listless, surrounded by people she shouldn’t really talk to (especially boys) and Tarver is curious. Lilac thinks it’s impossible that Tarver doesn’t know who she is, but he talks to her as if her father isn’t who he is and she’s just a normal girl. But, however drawn to the handsome, charming soldier Lilac is, she doesn’t get choose who she talks to. It’s safer if she rebukes him and moves on. She knows this. She’s been here before.

Of course after this is when the accident happens. Of course after she’s played her spoilt little rich girl act she’d end up alone with him, on a strange planet and with no way of contacting home.

Tarver doesn’t have the time for venomous little girls who’d sooner turn their nose up at him than talk to her. He’s a solider, he’s done too much to suffer her rich girl attitude. So of course he’d wind up stranded on a planet with her—an oddly terraformed planet that seems to at once be inhabited, and be completely abandoned.

But if it’s terraformed, there must be some life on the planet, some facility they can reach. There must be some way of contacting LaRoux Industries. With the ruins of the Icarus at their back and the hope of finding civilisation somewhere ahead, they eventually try to out aside their differences and trudge on together.

It doesn’t thing to realise that this planet is a little different. There seems to be nobody there, leaving the ghosts of the Icarus as the planet’s sole inhabitants. That is, until things start to change. Somehow, impossibly Lilac is combined they’re not alone. Maybe they never were. As they make their way towards the Icarus in hopes of survivors or some way of communicating, the planet begins to feel different. There are whispers, voices.

Before long Lilac and Tarver find that they want answers about the planet just as much as they want to find a way home. Lilac knows by know that her father should be looking for her. Surely there weren’t that many places the Icarus could have come down. And why did it come down, anyway? Just more questions without answers.

Whatever it is that Tarver and Lilac are expecting, whatever it is they think they will find on this strange planet and inside the ruins of the Icarus, nothing could have prepared either of them for the secrets concealed by this planet. This planet with no signs of life and it’s strange, mysterious whispers and magnetic pull towards somewhere and something.

These Broken Stars is imaginative and thrilling and presents characters who not only learn to see the truth of one another, but also of themselves. Being in the situation of being stranded on a planet with no other humans in sight really forces the characters to engage with one another on a deeper and far more empathetic level. They do not immediately fall in love—but there were some initial sparks, before both parties pull back due to the other’s status. The relationship, as it grows, is real and honest and effortlessly written. It can’t be easy for a book to essentially tell the story of just two people in one single place, but These Broken Stars manages.

There is a tension in the air through most of the book; a tension that makes you read more, more, more.  It’s refreshing to have this kind of YA SF that is neither vaguely dystopian nor vaguely apocalyptic. It is merely about two people and their story, with the promise of their journey spanning more time and more space once this part is told. Yet in spite of this being the first book and there being no secrets made about the nature of the trilogy to follow, this isn’t a book that lays the foundations. It is Lilac and Tarver’s story. It isn’t a prologue.

It’s surprisingly dark yet wholly imbued with optimism and the desire for truth. There is a mystery at the heart of things, and Lilac is determined to find out what is going on—and what it might have to do with LaRoux Industries.

Excellent and compelling with a tension not usually found in stories centred on a budding couple-to-be. The audiobook narration should be noted for extra props, because damn it was fantastic and made the tension and atmosphere really amp up. The first of an exciting trilogy that I have a feeling will wind up being far vaster and complex than the initial premise of three love-stories in space might suggest.

Just brilliant.

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