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These Broken Stars Paperback – November 25, 2014
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"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Lilac LaRoux is the belle of the ball on board her father's large and luxurious spaceliner, Icarus. Beautiful Lilac is constantly denying suitors who seem only to be after two things, her fame and her father's fortune. War hero Tarver Merendsen doesn't know who she is when he invites her to view the stars with him. When the Icarus suffers severe damage, it begins a disastrous decent out of hyperspace toward the nearest planet, and Lilac and Tarver find themselves in the same life pod. They soon realize they are the lone survivors on an eerie, uninhabited planet. Will rescuers be able to find them? More importantly, do they even want to be found? This first installment in a new series is a sci-fi thriller with a touch of Titanic, a hint of Romeo and Juliet, and a pinch of Lost. Readers Cynthia Holloway and Johnathan McClain give life to this story, making the listening experience enjoyable and exciting. This would be a great addition to any audiobook collection especially among fans of sci-fi romances.—Betsy Davison, Cortland Free Library, NY --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
*Starred Review* As the passengers and crew of the Icarus cruise through hyperspace, spoiled and aloof rich-girl Lilac LaRoux drops a glove before war-hero Major Tarver Merendsen, only to rebuff him later. Yet during a horrifying accident, Lilac and Tarver escape the death-spiraling Icarus, eventually finding themselves stranded on a strange, terraformed, yet abandoned planet. Their prickly relationship continues because both realize they have no future together, even if they are rescued: Lilac is the daughter of the universe’s richest man, while Tarver is a lowly soldier. Together, they struggle to save their lives and maintain their sanity—despite disturbing whispers, strange appearances, and disappearances of things lost and treasured—and gradually, the dire circumstances break down the barriers between them. Though Kaufman and Spooner use the pair’s survival in an alien environment to propel the narrative, These Broken Stars is at its heart a love story. Voiced in alternate chapters, Lilac and Tarver are characters of depth, complexity, and strength, young people who alternately elicit the reader’s admiration, frustration, and sympathy. While the book is the first of a promised trilogy, it stands on its own as a testament to love, loyalty, courage, and the power of good over dystopian greed and perversity. Grades 8-12. --Frances Bradburn --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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These Broken Stars is the first book in the Starbound Trilogy, a young adult science-fiction series that transcends the genres it attempts to incorporate. As for the "young adult" aspect, the quality and maturity of the writing lends the story an air of sophistication and poetry that is acceptable for almost any age. Somehow, the young protagonists still manage to sound the correct age, without the immaturity that many writers infuse into their younger characters. They don't sound older than they are, but they don't sound like annoying teenagers either. It's hard to explain, but trust me: It works.
It is both soft sci-fi, as well as paranormal, with a good bit of romance. And before you cringe at that, let me say this: I do not read romance novels of any sort. If it contains romance, fine. But I don't read it as a specific genre simply because I like the plot to define what happens, not cheesy lines and awkwardly written scenes (this is my personal bias).
But this is not that type of romance. This is the kind that can't be pegged down by limited parameters, the kind that flows into its own universe and drags us along the way, leaving us broken then healed but better for having taken the journey.
I am not overly sentimental, particularly when it comes to book romances, but this story is about so much more. It's about love, yes, but also about truth, about trust, about perseverance, about what really makes us human and what lengths we go to in order to make the world a better place. We all come from different walks of life, but shared experiences can bridge that gap. I argue that I'm not overly sentimental as I'm tearing up writing this part of the review, but I can't help it for one very specific reason. I can't share it with you without spoiling the story for you (I hate when reviews do that), but I will say that I have never in my life read a scene as realistically heartbreaking as a *particular* one in this book. It will make you want to cry, to scream, to throw the book across the room and curse the heavens (or me) for having allowed you to read it. Yet it is so achingly simple and human that we could all relate in one way or another. What causes it to happen is not normal, nor is it reasonable to expect what you later realize is the inevitable. When it happens, though, it is not what happens that will rip your heart out. It is the reactions and thoughts of another character that will punch you in the gut. I was so incredibly angry at the book at that point, but I kept reading, and I am very glad that I did. All I can say is, when you feel like you've been betrayed by the authors, don't automatically give up. Keep reading. Trust me. My daughter had an even stronger reaction when I told her to read this book, after having told her how much I enjoyed it. She became very upset with me at that point in the story, refusing to continue with it. This remained the case for almost two weeks before I finally convinced her to trust me (to trust me after she felt I had tricked her). Luckily, she did finish it and decided to forgive me in the end. This book is that good.
The two main characters alternate first-person POV from chapter to chapter, but the genius of this is that the two authors (Kaufman and Spooner) each wrote from one character's perspective, emailing chapters back and forth as they completed them. It's like a tandem story, only with more planning, cohesion, and editing involved. The end result is stunning, and they mastered the art of co-writing. Each of the two characters has a distinctly different voice, and neither of them come across as anything less than very real and human in their thoughts and actions.
The Starbound Trilogy is, by far, my favorite YA series to date (barring one exception that I don't count as YA, but that's for another blog post). I have read all three books now, as well as a prequel novella, and while I love the entire series, this first book is the best in the series by a long shot. Shortly after finishing the series, I reread the first book. Let me repeat that: I, who firmly do not believe in rereading books when there is little time for the books that are out there, reread this book. If you like the paranormal and science fiction genres, yet can tolerate some romance along the way (think The Notebook if it involved hyperspace travel, or Rose and Jack from Titanic, only IN SPACE and other exotic locales, minus the stupid freezing to death bit), you won't be disappointed. Better yet, think Glenn and Maggie ("I'll find you"). Sucker-punch to the gut right there. No need for Lucille.
The characters are REAL (well, as real as any character in fiction can be), the love story is undeniably REAL, and the plot only gets better as the story progresses. Can I promise that you'll love it as much as I do? Perhaps not, and that is the beauty of literature. This piece is as beautiful as the genre gets, as far as I'm concerned. Not beautiful as in it lacks action and humor. There is an overwhelming sense of foreboding, an ominous nature to several aspects of the plot, not to mention a handful of grit to balance out the poetry of it all. And there are lighter, funnier moments amidst the serious goings-on in the story.
If I had to recommend reading one YA series this summer, I'd definitely say give this one a shot. Read the first book and see how you like it. If you're like me, you'll devour it and immediately want to begin the next book. The entire series is fantastic, but the first book is by far the best (or maybe I'm just biased toward the characters in that one). There is also a short story entitled "This Night So Dark" that connects the first two books in the series, but I read it after the series. You don't want to spoil anything for yourself. You could read it any time AFTER you read These Broken Stars, but not before.
What can I say about this book that hasn't been said by every other person who has read and reviewed it before me? The imagery was beautiful; the world-building fantastic. I've seen many people refer to this as Titanic in outer-space and that's pretty much exactly what I pictured as I read (er, listened to) this book. It was absolutely engrossing and I found myself wanting to spend more time in my car just so I could get more of the story.
As much as I loved the story and the world-building, the characters were one of my favorite things about this book. I was afraid Lilac would be a wimpy heroine because of her background and upbringing. I could not have been more wrong. She kicked some serious tail by the end of the book and she ended up on my list of all-time favorite strong heroines, right alongside the likes of Katniss and Tris. Tarver? I don't have the words to describe Tarver. He was brilliant. I loved his snark when it came to the interview. He was completely swoony and wonderful and the best type of book boyfriend. Lilac and Tarver do not fall victim to love at first sight. Not even close. But, the chemistry between these two? Fan-freaking-tastic.
“Major, to what extent did you act upon your feelings for Miss LaRoux?"
"How am I supposed to answer that question?”
This book sucked me in from the start with the interview/inquisition. I wanted to know *everything* about what happened and who all the players were. I found the interview/inquisition portions unique and a great way to tease the reader about the things to come. (Or that already had, but that we didn't know anything about yet.) Plus, they showed a side of Tarver I appreciated... a lot.
There were tons of twists and turns in this book and I never really had a clear idea of where it would head. The ending blew my mind. I find YA sci fi to be pretty hit or miss and this was definitely a BIG HIT for me. I can't wait for more of this series.
As I "read" the audiobook version, I have to take a minute to talk about how fantastic the narrators were in These Broken Stars. It was different from most audiobooks I've read before in that there were three different narrators. Each of which suited the character perfectly. Cynthia Holloway, Johnathan McClain and Sarge Anton did an incredible job with this story. This audiobook was a complete experience and I can't recommend it highly enough.
Truth be told, I can't recommend the entire book highly enough, regardless of which format you choose to read it.
Most recent customer reviews
WHEW!! You guys. I almost didn’t make it. This book was SO CLOSE to becoming the first DNF of the year.Read more