This book was exactly what I needed to recover from Out of Darkness—romantic, sassy, creative YA.
Luxury spaceliner Icarus suddenly plummets from hyperspace into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive – alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a cynical war hero. Both journey across the eerie deserted terrain for help. Everything changes when they uncover the truth.
I discovered Amie Kaufman when I read Illuminae, which she co-authored with Jay Kristoff. I LOVED Illuminae, so I knew that I had to read Kaufman’s other books, the Starbound series. These Broken Stars did not disappoint.
These Broken Stars switches back and forth between two characters: Lilac, the daughter of the galaxy’s richest businessman, and Tarver, poor-boy turned war-hero being trotted around the universe as a publicity stunt. The two of them end up stranded together after the ship they are travelling on crashes on an unknown planet. Survival forces them to work together, despite their hatred for and frustration with each other.
I loved Tarver’s character. I generally expect that YA books like this will have a somewhat one-dimensional love interest, but Tarver broke this mold. He is more than a love interest; he carries his weight in the telling and shaping of the story. I loved his soldier personality—I believed that he could be the war hero everyone said he was. His voice was part professional solider, part teenage boy, and I loved how the two parts of his personality worked together. His ties to his family and the grief motivating him were believable, breaking the “tragic backstory” cliché.
Lilac took a little while to grow on me. In the beginning of the novel, Tarver tells most of the story, and Lilac comes off mostly as a prideful heiress who is more capable than people think…but who uses her skills for stupid reasons. However, as the story progressed, I got to see Lilac’s character develop, and I loved her. Even when she was falling apart, she fiercely tries to hold herself together, and it wasn’t just inane pride. Her character’s determination to stay in control made sense to me while simultaneously pulling at my heart strings.
The romance between Lilac and Tarver (c’mon, you knew it was coming) was awesome. I’m a sucker for love-to-hate romances, and this book executed it perfectly. Lilac and Tarver honestly hated each other in the beginning of the book, and it wasn’t a fleeting emotion. Even as they started to work with each other, their dominant feelings for each other were frustration and anger and hate—and I loved it. It sounds weird to glorify this, but I felt that it made their transition into romance more powerful. They made an amazing couple, but seeing that they had to “work” for it made it more meaningful when they eventually fell in love.
But These Broken Stars is more than a romance. The planet that Lilac and Tarver land on is filled with oddities and inexplicable occurrences, building until it is clear that some conspiracy is behind the entire planet. The mystery elements drove the plot well, giving it a good amount of suspense and confusion without making the story too overwhelming. I always wanted to keep reading, to find out what was going to happen next, to figure out another piece of the puzzle.
By the end of the story, enough of the mystery was resolved that I didn’t feel like the book was just an exposition for the series, but there were still a lot of lingering questions, pushing me to read the next book.
I would recommend These Broken Stars to fans of YA romances who enjoy creative sci-fi stories and like it when their heart is broken (a little). This book was filled with shocking moments and emotional scenes. Anyone who read Illuminae and needs more like it should definitely read this book.