Book Reviews

Review: “These Broken Stars,” Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

December 18, 2015
Review: “These Broken Stars,” Amie Kaufman & Meagan SpoonerThese Broken Starsby Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Series: The Starbound Trilogy #1
Published by Allen & Unwin on December, 2013
Genres: Dystopian, Sci-Fi, Survival
Pages: 374
Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia

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.

These Broken Stars was a lot different than I expected! I went in thinking I was in store for a romance-laden science fiction book set on a space ship… what I got was a tough and gritty journey of survival on an almost-lifeless planet. How could I have gotten these plotlines so confused? I blame the beautiful cover entirely!

“But who names a starship the Icarus? What kind of man possess that much hubris, that he dares it to fall?”

I’ve been wanting to dive into this series for the longest time, but with the third and final book being released this month, I really had no better excuse to start now!

The start of the These Broken Stars gives off a very Titanic-esque vibe. Lilac LaRoux is the redheaded golden girl of high society, adored by all and touched by no one. Tarver Merendsen is in ‘First Class’ by sheer luck on the battlefield – a celebrated war hero who doesn’t understand why he survived when anyone else could have easily taken his place. The two meet, and despite mutual attraction, part ways, only to be thrust together once more when the ‘unsinkable’ space ship, the Icarus, begins to… well, ‘space sink’…

Okay, so she doesn’t really sink… she’s quite actually ripped apart as she falls out of interdimensional travel… but you get the gist. TITANIC VIBES. It was the promise of this that initially drew me to this book, anyway… I’m a real sucker for anything even loosely based (or alike) Titanic, and add some sci-fi and dystopian in and I’m sold.

“Lilac Rose LaRoux. Untouchable. Toxic. I should’ve been named Ivy, or Foxglove, or Belladonna.”

I really LOVED Lilac LaRoux. Even though she initially presented herself as a spoiled, rich girl… there was always a fire there, and I knew I would love her character! She had an incredible amount of strength, too, and ended up saving Tarver as much as he saved her (I ADORED that Tarver wouldn’t have even made it off the Icarus if not for Lilac, they were pretty much evenly balanced from the start!).

Though I really liked Lilac, I never really felt a connection with Tarver. Sure, their little romance and also their friendship was great, but I never found myself swooning over him and I always preferred Lilac’s chapters over his. If I had liked Tarver a little more (or even learnt more about his military career) I think my rating of These Broken Stars would have been through the roof.

Tarver and Lilac’s tale of survival had me on the edge of my seat for the most part. I was turning pages quickly to find out if they reached the Icarus wreckage, or if they saw any other signs of life on this seemingly lifeless and abandoned planet. The mystery of ‘why’ and ‘who’ was a constant – why did the Icarus fall out of hyperspace? What was that object Tarver saw before the crash? Why was nobody coming to rescue them?

There were so many questions and nods to a bigger conspiracy – I just had to know all the answers.

“You could die tomorrow, you don’t think you should kiss her today?”

As the story delved deeper, more mysteries arose. If it wasn’t enough being stranded, Lilac now began to hear voices and see visions of the dead from the Icarus. Objects began to appear out of thin air and both Tarver and Lilac found out they were being drawn somewhere by someone they couldn’t name.

It was a survival story with a very sci-fi push. I ate it up!

Another thing I noticed was how much of an impact the wreckage and horror of the Icarus crash site had on me. It was always this looming, hulking thing full of death and despite only seeing some of the characters for a chapter or two, I couldn’t help but think of all those that had perished on the ship. I wanted to know more about the Icarus’ last moments, and see if anyone else could have possibly survived. It was a morbid fascination I couldn’t shake.

The last few chapters were incredible and complex, and I couldn’t believe how much of a turn things had taken. I don’t want to give anything away, but I was seriously doubting Tarver and Lilac’s happy ending.

“For a moment the image before us is frozen: our world, our lives, reduced to a handful broken stars half lost in uncharted space. Then it’s gone, the view swallowed by the hyperspace winds streaming past, blue-green auroras wiping the after-images away. Until all that’s left is us.”

Although the ‘wrap-up’ concerning Lilac was a little too convenient for me, I am eager to learn MORE about Lilac’s father’s corporation and their involvement in the events of These Broken Stars. If I had liked Tarver a tad more, and been a bit more convinced of the world-building from the get go, this one would have been a solid five-star read.

I am certain that The Starbound Trilogy is going to be one I truly enjoy!

About Amie Kaufman

Amie Kaufman writes science fiction and fantasy for teens, and her favourite procrastination techniques involve chocolate, baking, sailing, excellent books and TV, plotting and executing overseas travel, and napping. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, their rescue dog, and her considerable library.

About Meagan Spooner

Meagan Spooner grew up reading and writing every spare moment of the day, while dreaming about life as an archaeologist, a marine biologist, an astronaut. She graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a degree in playwriting, and has spent several years since then living in Australia. She's traveled with her family all over the world and there's a bit of every trip in every story she writes. She currently lives and writes in Asheville, North Carolina, but the siren call of travel is hard to resist, and there's no telling how long she'll stay there.


  • Reply Zareena @ The Slanted Bookshelf December 21, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Ooh, I am loving the quotes! I bought These Broken Stars last year but haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. It’s been a while since I read anything remotely sci-fi and the emphasis on survival is really appealing. Fantastic review!

    Zareena @ The Slanted Bookshelf

  • Reply Denise December 19, 2015 at 7:35 am

    I agree with you on this one! I really liked the Sci-Fi elements, and thought they were done really well. Also, I loved the character development from both Lilac and Tarver. They changed so much, but I did love the way they changed! The ending was a little confusing and convenient too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Denise | The Bibliolater

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