Saturday, November 23, 2013

Review: These Broken Stars (Kaufman/Spooner)

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AUTHOR: Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
SERIES: Starbound, book 1
PUBLISHER: Disney-Hyperion
PUBLICATION DATE: December 10, 2013
ISBN: 9781423171027
PAGES: 384
SOURCE: NetGalley
GENRE: sci-fi
GIVE IT TO: upper-MS, HS
SUMMARY: Lilac, daughter of the wealthiest man in the universe, and Tarver, a decorated young soldier, learn that they are the only two survivors after the luxury spaceliner they were traveling on breaks apart in space and crashes into an isolated planet. From two completely different worlds, Lilac and Tarver are as opposite as they could possibly be but must learn to work together since it appears they are the only people on the entire planet.

REVIEW: If you loved the 1997 movie Titanic, you will love These Broken Stars. Right at the beginning, a luxury ship full of wealthy passengers breaks apart in space and kills everyone except Lilac and Tarver, virtual strangers who live very different lives.

I absolutely COULD NOT put this book down! It's emotional, romantic, heartbreaking, creepy, and just plain awesome. As of right now, it's my favorite book of 2013.

For almost the entire story, there are only two characters: Lilac and Tarver. Viewpoints alternate between Lilac and Tarver, punctuated briefly every couple of chapters with Tarver being interrogated by someone who believes Tarver is lying. From this exchange, you know from the beginning that Tarver at least gets off the planet safe and whole. As the interrogations continue, it becomes clear to the reader that Tarver is in fact lying, though why or to what end is not revealed for quite a while. The alternating viewpoints really help develop the two protagonists, and I loved both of them. The sacrifices they repeatedly make for each other remind me of Todd and Viola in The Knife of Never-Letting Go (Ness), and the adventure-survival-traveling themes remind me of Rossi's Under the Never Sky. Since I loved both of those books, it's no wonder I loved this one also!

Thankfully, there is no insta-love! There is plenty of swoon-worthy romance, but the characters really have to work for it.

There are some interesting surprises in the book, which when they happened, I wasn't so sure I liked. These are two authors who are not afraid to take risks, and for me, those risks really paid off and brought everything together well. I'm sure there will be readers who don't like the direction the story goes, but it certainly kept me guessing!

I see that Goodreads lists this as a trilogy, and though I absolutely LOVED this book, I am kind of sad that it isn't a stand-alone. Loose ends are tied up, so I don't see where the story could really go from there.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Incredibly unique with a well-developed, swoon-worthy romance. I've read lots of fantastic YA books this year, but These Broken Stars tops them all. I am writing this review in early August (posting in late-November), but I predict this will be on the Goodreads "Best of 2013" voting lists in December.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: I'll definitely get this.

READALIKES: Under the Never Sky (Rossi), Chaos Walking trilogy (Ness), 172 Hours on the Moon (Harstad)

RATING BREAKDOWN:
  • Overall: 5/5
  • Creativity: 5/5--bonus on the creativity!
  • Characters: 5/5
  • Engrossing: 5/5
  • Writing: 5/5
  • Appeal to teens: 5/5
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5

CONTENT:
  • Language: none
  • Sexuality: medium--sleeping together for warmth, kissing, off-screen intercourse, innuendo, reference to erection--none of these are described in detail
  • Violence: mild; Tarver carries a gun but rarely uses it; one reference to suicide, a wild animal attacks
  • Drugs/Alcohol: very mild; medical supplies/injections used to save lives
  • Other: a couple of creepy scenes gave me shivers, frequent discovery of dead bodies in various states of decay

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