Wednesday, January 8, 2014

These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars is a lovely book I'm so glad I picked up. Written by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, this young adult science fiction novel weaves a tale of love with a gripping story of loss and survival. Lilac is the richest girl in the universe, and Tarver is just a poor young soldier, albeit an honored war hero. For a moment, when everything is normal, they are drawn to each other, but Lilac ends it forcefully and cruelly, knowing anyone she loves will only face the fury of her father. Tarver, humiliated, backs off. But then fate brings them back together when disaster strikes the massive spaceship they are both on, yanking them out of hyperspace and hurtling them to the planet below. Then, all Tarver and Lilac have are each other, and as much as they hate it, they will have to find a way to cooperate and cross this strange planet to a place where they can be rescued. But something on the planet seems to have other ideas for them.

This was a delightful read, with all sorts of conflict and two interesting, multi-faceted characters. First, you throw two characters who hate each other into a disaster from which they come out alone with each other on the opposite side. Then there's the matter of pure survival without many supplies in a hostile and new environment. Once they are as miserable as possible, add a few mysteries that will build on each other like a good ghost story. And then, once your characters are comfortable, throw everything on its head once or twice more. Make sure there's always more trouble they can run into. And throughout, have flash-forwards to when one of the characters is being interrogated about the events. You know he escapes, but at what cost, and why is he lying? And there you have it: brilliant storytelling.

At first, I admit, I was intimidated by the size of the book. It's none too thin, and there are lots of words per page. I noticed it particularly because most young adult books are super fast reads with half as many words per page. I didn't know what I was getting myself into, but I was very quickly hooked. And then I was glad there were so many words because I knew the book wouldn't be over too soon and I could read to my heart's content and know there was always more to come back to. As much as I love those fast reads, I'm always having to start a new one too soon. And starting is the hardest part when you don't know if it will be good or not. Having a good book to return to is always the best.

This was also different from my usual fare in that it was science fiction. I've enjoyed books about characters in space before, so I wasn't thrown off by it. But they are usually few and far between. It was nice for a change of pace.

I have conflicting views on the morals of the book, though I do understand the reasoning behind them. SPOILER ALERT: The characters do end up falling in love and having sex. I'm not a proponent of sex outside of marriage, so I didn't like it for that reason. But on the other hand, these characters are stranded together with no certainty of rescue, and I think that if you don't have a way to be legally married, you can still be married in your heart before God (providing you believe in God). Of course, nothing like that is discussed in the book. As with all young adult books, they are in love, so they have sex. Nothing sacred about it. That's what I don't like about it. I do appreciate that the details are kept simple and vague. If you have to talk about it in young adult books, no need to be graphic.

Morals aside, the story itself bothered me as it led toward the end. To be more than vague about this would definitely be a spoiler, and I don't want to give anything away here. Let me just say that as the characters became okay with how things stood, I became more okay with it. But I was still left a bit unsettled. Though I don't think that it will matter or change the things I'm referring to, this is only the first book of the series, so added books may help the unsettled feeling to go away. In any case, I'm curious about the future of this series. I don't think future books will have quite the same dynamics that made me love this book, but I am still interested in finding out what becomes of the characters. However, this book is a good stand-alone, too, and once you finish it, you'll be fairly satisfied.

This book was released in November of last year. Four stars.

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