Saturday, January 4, 2014

These Broken Stars - Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

Date Started - 1/2/14
Date Finished - 1/4/14

Off to a good start in 2014! I swore I wasn't going to read this book in such close proximity to "The Fault in Our Stars" just because the titles are so similar. But, what can I say, this is the first book I've been convinced to read solely by Twitter (so, yay, first Twitter recommendation - it was good!). Side note: you can follow me on twitter @BStBibliophile.

As usual, spoilers ahead.

Tarver = male narrator, military war hero at 18, only child after brother killed in military action, considered "low born" because parents are teachers.

Lilac = female narrator, father is most powerful man in the galaxy; spoiled socialite with hidden skill set.

There's a lot to summarize here but I'll do my best to keep it short. After getting them to an escape pod when their ship is pulled out of hyperspace, Lilac hot-wires the thing to actually eject them from the flailing ship. This is Tarver's first glimpse that the socialite known for eviscerating potential suitors (including himself) may have more going on. The two make their way across jungles, plains, mountains and finally the crash site, while receiving visions from what they identify as "whispers" - other lifeforms  who exist without bodies on this planet. The whispers lead them to a military bunker where it becomes clear that Lilac's father knew about this planet and was ultimately responsible for whatever previously took place here, including capturing the whispers and keeping them there for their energy. While trying to determine how to enter the building, Lilac dies and Tarver is beside himself with grief (by this time, late in the book, they have fallen completely in love). The whispers bring Lilac back mainly to motivate Tarver to keep looking for a way to release them. Ultimately Tarver risks his life by pulling Lilac into the force-field (for lack of a better word; I can't recall what it was called in the book) and this somehow heals her and releases the whispers from the prison they had been kept in. Meanwhile, ships managed to decipher the signal Lilac had set up to get them off of the planet and a rescue team arrives. The two are whisked away and Tarver is subjected to questioning (seen in glimpses through the book) and Lilac to medical tests which indicate something has changed with her (though we're not yet told what). She reunites with her father and finally stands up to him, telling him that he will ensure that Tarver is safe otherwise she will reveal what really happened on the planet. The book closes with the planet's destruction - the last proof of their ordeal blasted before their eyes while Lilac and Tarver hold each other and head into a future together.

Now, what I thought was so fantastic about this book was the way the narration was so seamless. I often feel like one narrator just isn't believable or well-written and that was not the case here. Each person had their own voice that was so clear that it was a joy to read every chapter (rather than preferring one narrator over the other). My most immediate comparison was the last book in the Divergent series, Allegiant, where Four suddenly became a narrator. Maybe because he was kind of unlikeable in many ways during the course of the book but I dreaded his chapters in a way that I never did here.

I also thought the world-building they did was fantastic. It is palpable and believable without being over the top or immersing you in a world that you can't identify with. I liked spending time there and will be eager to see where else these authors take us in the world they've put together (side note: where is Earth in all of this? Does it still exist? Destroyed? Is that where Tarver's parents still live in their idyllic cottage?).

So I have to thank the Twitter folks I follow who all raved about this book on it's release date. Honestly, without Twitter I'm not sure I would have heard of this book or been convinced to try it out, so score one for social media recommendations. I'm on board when the next book comes out!

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