Series: Starbound #1
Published by Allen & Unwin on November 20, 2013
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets to the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone. Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they're worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help. Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other's arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder - would they be better off staying in this place forever? Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won't be the same people who landed on it. The first in a sweeping science fiction trilogy, These Broken Stars is a timeless love story about hope and survival in the face of unthinkable odds.
I came into These Broken Stars thinking it was going to be a sci-fi story, but instead it was a classic romance, with a heavy survival focus.
Tarver and Lilac first meet on a ship called the Icarus, where he’s drawn to her sharpness and good looks and she’s bemused by his lack of knowledge about who she is. Tarver is a celebrated soldier while Lilac is the daughter of the most powerful and richest man in the galaxy, and they hold disdain for each other. Inevitably, the ship falls and the two manage to escape – onto an unknown planet with no living beings in sight. The two must use the combination of their skills to become rescued, while coping with the added complication of hallucinations and voices in their head.
Tarver and Lilac crashing onto an unknown planet from an escape pod reminded me of one of my favourite childhood point and click games – Space Quest! Space Quest is about exploring a strange, alien planet, doing anything for survival and stumbling upon the planet’s strange inhabitants. These Broken Stars certainly included these elements, along with a well paced romance between a hardened soldier and a rich and powerful society girl.
The romance here is one of the best I’ve read in a while as it develops over the course of the novel. It starts off with antagonistic banter, which slowly develops into co-dependence, and then finally the romance. Lilac at the start is a bratty princess in an impractical dress and heels and slowly transforms into a caring, useful scavenger, while Tarver treats Lilac like she’s just slowing him down but warms to ‘the real Lilac’ as she drops her mask over time. Seeing their instant attraction, wariness, and romantic feelings finally being developed was really enjoyable, just like a classical romance where many YA novels miss the mark.
I really enjoyed the dynamic between Tarver and Lilac, Tarver with his expertise in surviving in the wilderness and Lilac with her knowledge and tinkering of electronics. On a planet that is harsh and barren, where their only means of returning home is through using a crashed vehicle’s emergency relay, the mixture of their skills were complimentary.
Not many skills developed in the world of society, of balls and dresses and intrigue, apply out here in the wild, with this man I would’ve never known but for this strange twist of fate. – Lilac
The mystery element satisfied my inner sci-fi geek. Lilac beings hearing strange voices and seeing hallucinations, which extends to Tarver later in the book. The planet that they’ve landed on holds a dark secret, and the origin to it was really fascinating. There is a HUGE twist halfway through the novel that is shocking and you’d never see coming, even now I am still stunned by it.
While the book didn’t quite deliver the heavy sci-fi I was looking for, These Broken Stars is a wonderful survival romance story that has a timeless quality about it. The character development and the romance is a highlight delivered with beautiful, lyrical writing which made the whole novel a pleasure to read. Just check out this sentence:
The morning dawned clear and promising, and I had let myself hope a little that the ascent wouldn’t be as bad as I had anticipated. Streams of snowmelt run down the mountainside, and though they’re gut-achingly cold, I never lack somewhere to fill the canteen. – Tarver
Beautiful, isn’t it?
Thank you to Allen & Unwin for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 5 out of 5