I hate disappointment.
These Broken Stars is about Lilac LaRoux, daughter of the richest man in the universe, and Tarver Merendsen, a young (poor) war hero. They meet aboard the luxury spaceliner Icarus, just before all hell breaks loose and it crashes onto the nearest planet. Lilac and Tarver are the only survivors and in their struggle to find a way off the planet, they discover themselves and their feelings towards each other.
Before you ask, no; it’s not Titanic-in-space. It’s actually an excellent concept and had so much potential. That’s what hurts the most I think; I was so excited to read this book and it could have been so much more!
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first, shall we? This book belongs in the romance genre. If that’s your bag then good for you, but if I wanted to read the romance genre I would go buy a book from the romance section of Waterstones, okay? These Broken Stars is supposed to be YA survivalist science fiction, which means if there is romance it is supposed to be a subplot only. Okay, technically there are no exact rules on this, but goddammit I don’t want all this teenage twue-lurrve bullshit overshadowing what could have been a pretty decent plot!
Yes, the plot could have been amazing. I love survivalist literature; the proper Robinson Crusoe-type survivalism just does it for me. That’s the kind of thing I was expecting to see here. Picture it: two teenagers stranded on a different planet. The authors could have gone nuts with it, the creative possibilities are freaking endless. They’d have to search for food, coming across weird-looking alien berries and trying to figure out what they could eat. They could build a shelter in some funky-looking space-tree that actually turns out the be edible and — I don’t know I’m just rambling now but the book should have given me something! But no, we really get fuckall in terms of survivalism. Lilac and Tarver eat ration bars and sleep in caves. That’s all we know about how they survive. That’s literally it. Why? Because 80% of the chapters consist of Lilac and Tarver’s developping feelings towards each other. And it gets old really quickly.
Would I have felt differently if I had been more emotionally invested in the characters? Probably not, because I actually quite liked them. Ish. Well, they weren’t mindless Nora Greys, let’s put it that way. Lilac’s your typical rich bitch, except no she isn’t because she’s different. She’s smart, she’s compassionate, yet she still plays up to the rich bitch persona which makes her annoying yet intruiging and real. I didn’t find her particularly amazing, but she definitely stood out as a decent heroine, which comes from the really quite decent character writing. I was impressed by the realism in Lilac, and while I’m on the subject of being impressed: this is one of the only books with multiple POVs that I didn’t hate. And that’s because Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner knew what they were doing and wrote one POV each, successfully distinguishing character voices and facilitating characterisation. I ended up warming to Lilac quite a bit.
Tarver was another story because he was a complete and utter Gary Stu. He was just swimming in his own perfection, and he just ended up pissing me off. Perfection does not a good character make. I abhored his schoolboy adoration for Lilac as well. He suposedly “hated” her because she’s a spoiled little rich girl, yet he continuously praised every. little. detail about her. Over and over and over. It goes beyond just liking her and denying it, the guy just puts her on a freaking pedestal.
“I offer her my hands, and she lets me help her to her feet. She does this without a groan, without a wimper. I’m not sure I could’ve made it this far on feet that badly torn up. Lilac LaRoux’s handled a forced march with more determination than some of the recruits I’ve taken out in the last couple of years.”
“And there it is, against all hope, like the sun peeking out from behind the clouds. The smallest hint of a smile.”
And then, predictably, they fall irrevocably in love after only having known each other about a week and at this point I just gave up on everything.
“All I know is that this is her, my Lilac, and I can’t live without her.”
NOPE. I’M DONE.
In short, if you’re a teenager and you’re a sucka for the romance, you’ll probably enjoy this one. I feel obliged to warn you not to let Tarver influence your expectations in men. I know Disney is largely to blame in this too, just don’t be fooled by fucking Tarver. Kay?
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