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.
NOTE: I was part of the Aurealis Awards judging panel which awarded These Broken Stars Best YA Novel in 2013.
These Broken Stars is the first book in the Starbound trilogy, co-written by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, and Kaufman’s debut novel.
This is very much a book that I can see as being a gateway into speculative fiction, especially for female readers (I know that I would have made extreme grabby hands for that cover alone when I was a teenager, and would have loved the story even more). There are some reviews that complain about a lack of worldbuilding in terms of the science fictional universe, but I can actually see that being a positive thing for a lot of readers – if you have a young reader who hasn’t read much science fiction, too much worldbuilding can be daunting. These Broken Stars is a book primarily about the co-protagonists, just enough revealed of the world(s) around them to be tantalising, without being overwhelming.
And those protagonists. Lilac and Tarver are both complex characters – when they walk onto the virtual stage, both can easily be seen as little more than cliches: Lilac the spoiled princess, Tarver the heroic soldier. They quickly move past this, both of them showing their own strengths and unexpected talents. And Lilac is never a damsel in distress – they both save each other more than once.
I can imagine that some readers would be put off by the romance in this – and that’s cool, if romance isn’t your thing, you might be better off looking elsewhere, but I found it utterly believable and compelling.
There are two other books planned as sequels (This Shattered World, the second book, has been recently released) and I hope that Spooner and Kaufman expand out and out and show us more of this fascinating world.