I came across These Broken Stars on a book blog years ago, and decided to pick it up based on the very positive review I read. After burning out on smart-ass teens and their problems in Kids of Appetite a few days ago, I wanted to read some young adult fiction that felt a bit more straightforward. I figured that this science fiction adventure would meet that need nicely, and I was very pleased to find out that I was right.
The story follows two teenagers taking a trip on the luxury spaceliner, the Icarus. Lilac LaRoux is the daughter of the richest man in the galaxy and is traveling to celebrate her upcoming seventeenth birthday. Tarver Merendsen is a much less well-off soldier, fresh off a mission in which he saved several lives. His new-found fame has earned him some public attention and a spot on the first class decks, which is where he first bumps into Lilac at a party. There is a definite spark of passion between them, but as they come from two different worlds, and Lilac's father is extremely strict and controlling regarding who she associates with, both understand that they can never be in a relationship together.
They are forced together again, however, when the Icarus is suddenly pulled from hyperspace and crashes onto the nearest planet. Due to Tarver's military training and Lilac's technological knowledge, they are able to evacuate the ship in an escape pod and survive the rough landing. Once the dust settles, the pair realizes that they are in major trouble. All of their communications equipment was destroyed in the crash and they have no way of signaling their location to anyone. They set out together to try and find other survivors from the Icarus or any inhabitants on the planet that might be able to help them get home. As they travel, several strange occurrences lead them to realize that not everything on the planet is what it seems. Eventually, they discover a tragic secret that will change the course of both of their lives.
This novel was shockingly entertaining, and I was absolutely hooked from page one. I've always been attracted to survival stories, and this one was both fast-paced enough to stay engaging, and detailed enough to present two well-developed characters. The plot twists were interesting, the romance was slightly cringe-worthy, and there was teen angst-galore. In other words, it was exactly what a book like this should be like, but more competently written then usual.
Like with many of the books I've read lately, this one shifted narration between Lilac and Tarver with each chapter. I liked this method here, and I thought each character retained their own voices and motivations nicely. There were times that I found myself frustrated with some of the choices they made, especially Lilac and the meanness she often used as a shield, but I admit that all of their actions were in keeping with what you would expect teens in space to act like.
As this was a really enjoyable adventure story, there were only three small things I didn't like. First, the protagonists names are probably some of the most made-up sounding names I've ever heard. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen. The authors might as well have gone with Beauty McDelicate and Handsome Toughersen. That's a small (and petty) complaint though. It's not like I could have come up with anything better.
My second gripe is with Lilac's father, Roderick LaRoux. He's meant to be an unlikable character, but the way he tries to control his daughter's personal life felt very uncomfortable to me. He was extremely concerned about what might be going on in her sex life, and it was repulsive. It's to the point where Lilac is forced to be brutally mean to all men to keep them away from her, lest they raise the ire of her rich daddy, who will literally arrange for them to be killed. I thought that was gross.
My last issue was with one of the plot points at the end of the novel. Lilac and Tarver eventually need to figure out a password to unlock something. They try many words with no luck, until Lilac eventually figures it out. The password ended up being the very first word that they should have tried. Like, very obviously. It was the first word that popped into my mind. It was ridiculous that it wasn't the first thing they tried too. If you ever read this one, you'll know what I mean.
Despite those smaller things, I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed These Broken Stars. I would recommend this in a heartbeat to young adult readers. While I don't think that I would want to read this one more than once, it was an excellent journey that I'm glad I embarked on. This is the first book in a series, but it can definitely stand alone. There is a firm ending to it, so I don't feel like I have to read the rest of it right now. I might do so in the future, but for now, I'm very happy with my experience.
Total Books Read in 2018: 29