These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

These Broken StarsFor a while, I thought I was going to hate These Broken Stars. It reeled against everything I hoped and for a period made both characters rather annoying. In the end, I completely loved the book. It warped itself from being irritating to being so captivating that I couldn’t stand it. I literally could not put the book down at a certain point and plowed through the final 150 pages.

Tarver and Lilac were intriguing and had a lot of depth to their characters. Tarver more so than Lilac, but they both surprised me with how they plowed forward even with the odds staunchly against them.

These Broken Stars is a romance, but above anything else it is a story of survival. Tarver and Lilac are forced to survive and figure out what exactly they need to do to keep themselves going when the odds continually stack against them. As much as it seems that this story is about space, it’s not. It is however a book a that I really enjoyed, so much so that I can’t wait to dig into the companion story.

From here on out there will be spoilers many spoilers. If you haven’t read the book, I would suggest that you don’t read any further.

When I picked up this book, I looked at the cover and I thought space. From the little bit of the description I did read, I thought space. Everything that I learned about this story pointed to space, but that is unfortunately only a small aspect of the story. Sure, they are technically out in space, but the locale of the story is not space. After get roughly thrown out of space by an accident, Lilac and Tarver are stranded on a terraformed, but uninhabited planet. So, I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t get as much space as I wanted. That frustration was compounded by the bickering I had to suffer through in the early days of their stay. I’m sure that if I read the description of the book more clearly I would have had a better idea, but I like to go into books with as little expectations as possible. Shattering the one expectation I had was upsetting, but I quickly got over that when the story really picked up.

Tarver is a young man who happened to be a war hero, more because of sheer luck and tenacity, rather than having true makings of a hero. He survived and he’s being rewarded, but that isn’t all he is. He’s a poet. He loves his family and he tends to know what he wants. Lilac is stubborn and highly intelligent. She’s the daughter of one of the richest men in all of space, but she’s lived a life under a microscope. Her few ventures out of her father’s grasp have left her with scars and closed off. Of course, both of these characters have an instant attraction for each other. The benefit of the characters ending up stranded with each other was that we really got to focus on the relationship between the two characters. You got to know Lilac and Tarver extremely well with no real distractions. It really helped with the character building to have such a strong focus in them as you really became invested.

Unfortunately, the attraction is shielded off for a while. It was painful watching Lilac intentionally be mean to Tarver to drive him away. As the novel went on, we learned why she was so guarded, but it was frustrating. She was warring with herself, convincing herself that she didn’t like him to spare him because she did have feelings for him. Whereas, Tarver embraced the rejection. He was just as nasty and derogatory to Lilac as she was to him. Yet, his POV made it seem that was how he truly felt. He was bitter and harsh in his thoughts, thinking Lilac as nothing more than a spoiled princess. Their bickering was something that grew to wear on me as the story went on. In fact, there was a point that I didn’t think they’d be able to come back from all the nasty things and behaviors.

That changed when the whispers made themselves known. I’ll talk about the Whispers in a moment, but let’s get on with the shift in dynamic in the relationship. Once the pair stopped hating each other their romance fell hard and fast. Once Tarver realized everything that Lilac had done for him while he couldn’t he started to see another side of her that he was trying to ignore before. Lilac was strong and determined. She may have been nearly princess status, but she was capable. I was really glad to see that it was Lilac who made the first move. It felt fitting considering, she was the one who rejected his initial approach. It was her turn to confirm that yes, she really did want him and didn’t care what daddy thought. Their relationship went fast and hard and I was all in. I bought into those emotions. When things went to shit, again because Lilac was so determined to help Tarver over herself, it was thanks to the whispers that they’d struggle through their next hurdle.

The whispers. Ah. What is a book about space without aliens. It was interesting to learn about the whispers and what they could do and how they functioned. Throughout the book we got silent tastes of what was going on with them. I was intrigued. When I wasn’t rooting for the relationship between our main characters, I was absorbed in the mystery that was the whispers. They were littered throughout the book enough that you know they were a benevolent force, but what they were was confusing. It was the whispers grand gesture of making a copy of Lilac to help with the with the work that really hit me. These were creatures and unknown force and learning the history of what happened to them was heart breaking. I almost wish I could get an entire novel just learning more about the whispers and their culture. They were that intriguing.

Finally, I want to briefly mention the framing device. Due to the way the interview with Tarver was established it was clear that we knew he would survive and somehow be saved. However, the way we received snippets of the progressing conversation ramped up the tension in the chapters while giving us an idea of what to expect. At first I didn’t enjoy them as they just seemed strange. Until you learn that they crashed, the interview feels almost out of place. However, once they are fighting for their lives to get off Icarus, those debrief pieces help drive the story in an interesting way.

What did you think of These Broken Stars?

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