Fallen from space

Cover art for These Broken StarsTitle: These Broken Stars

Author: Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Publisher & Release Date: Hyperian, December 2013

The Hook: Richest girl in the galaxy and a decorated soldier have to find a way to survive when their escape pod crash lands on a deserted planet. (Also a cover with a ridiculously gorgeous dress.)

The Lowdown (from jacket): “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 into 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 here 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.”

Overall Impressions:  Titanic meets wilderness survival with a long-hidden secret buried underneath it all. (Or to put it another way, Titanic plus Shards of Honor plus Firefly. Want to read it yet?)

For me, this book took off when the ship went down. Lilac and Tarver’s introduction and initial meeting onboard felt believable but familiar – attraction, conscious and then reactionary rejection because Important Reasons – but once they’re on the planet, they only have each other. And it’s kind of hard to put on a shell to hide yourself when all your energy is on survival. The description as they trek from the downed, damaged pod to the site of the fallen ship and slowly realize that the planet has no human inhabitants and no one else escaped the Icarus sucked me into the story. They face the mounting terror of first Lilac and later Tarver hearing whispers they can’t quite make out. And then they start seeing people, people who died and people who can’t possibly be on the planet.

Spooner and Kaufman tell the story in alternating chapters between Lilac and Tarver, interspersed with short chunks of Tarver being interviewed/interrogated by rescuers. The latter are dialog-only and become increasingly intimidating.

I love that both characters contribute to their survival and figuring out what to do as it increasingly looks as if rescue will not be coming. The relationship between the two becomes frighteningly intense.

The secret I did not expect and definitely didn’t anticipate some of the effects of its discovery.

The Highs: The reserves Lilac finds when Tarver is injured and his wound gets infected, leaving him delirious.

Great creepiness factor with the whispers and hallucinations/mirages – I had to quit reading at one point because it was late and no one else was home!

The description of the Icarus falling. (And really, naming a ship Icarus? Just asking for trouble.)

World-building. Both the beautiful, empty planet with its secret, and the central worlds – terraformed colonies power and resources imbalance, which will no doubt be explored in further books.

Tarver’s voice during the interrogation.

Buzzkills:  I found the relationship between Lilac and her father rather baffling. Does he love her? Does he have dreams for her? He’s obviously very protective in terms of what he considers appropriate exposure. Is it a possession-type of love? I expect that will get explored more in books two and three.

Really, Lilac and Tarver are so intense, so very front and center, very few other characters made much of an impression.

Pro and con – Did I mention this is not a stand-alone?

The Source: Public library.

Disclaimer: Neither chocolate nor a galactic cruise was provided by the publisher in exchange for this review.

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