publication date: 2013
In These Broken Stars, Kaufman and Spooner craft a traditional teenage love story; however, they compose it against a detailed and futuristic SF world.
The book introduces us to Major Tarver Merendsen and society girl Lilac LaRoux. Their story begins inauspiciously, as Lilac leads Tarver on, only to mercilessly reject him. After that, neither wants to see the other again; however, life has other plans for them and, as the spaceliner they are on sustains damage, they both end up in the same escape pod.
Both the characters, Lilac and Tarver, are very strong, engaging, and interesting. When Tarver first meets Lilac, I was immediately compelled by his inner monologue:
I know [Lilac’s] playing a game with me, but I don’t know the rules, and she’s got all the cards. Still the hell with it – I just can’t find it in me to care that I’m losing. I’ll surrender right now, if she likes.
However, I didn’t find much to differentiate them from any other YA main characters.
Although the authors’ characters were run-of-the-mill, their writing was more distinctive. The style of the book had an ethereal, wondering quality. An example is this passage, where Lilac is stranded just as it starts to rain:
More rain. If there’s any more rain than this, I think, we’ll need gills. We could swim up to the sky and leave this place with no need to wait for a rescue ship.
Another unique aspect of the book was its setting. As a SF book, it was set in a future where scientific advances far exceed our current technologies. The world the authors created was detailed and realistic. Further, the science of these new technologies made sense, as long as I didn’t dwell on it. However, I thought the book borrowed too much of its concepts and vocabulary from other works, especially Joss Whedon’s Firefly.
Generally, this book was just fine and, in fact, I had a hard time putting it down. The characters were solid, the writing was striking, and the setting and plot were interesting. However, nothing seemed “fresh” enough; I felt like I’d read this book ten times before. Accordingly, I would probably only recommend this book to those who already have an affinity for YA of this type.
4/6: worth reading