Series: Starbound #1
Published by Allen & Unwin on 20 November 2013
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
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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?
She comes in on an angle, heading for a mountain range beyond the plains. Debris the size of skyscrapers goes flying, and one side begins to shear away as the friction becomes too much for her. Smaller shards of fire stream off of her as she goes, arcing across the sky like shooting stars. With a jolt of horror, I realise that they’re escape pods. Pods that didn’t make it off the ship before she went down…
Major Tarver Merendsen is a war hero, in transit between worlds on the luxury ship Icarus. As part of his war-hero status he is invited to the first-class decks at times, to mingle and be seen with the elite passengers. One night though, he runs into a beautiful girl, not realising that she is Lilac LaRoux, daughter of the billionaire who owns the whole shipping empire. A few nights later, the unthinkable happens and the Icarus is sucked out of hyperspace, crashing towards an unknown planet. Tarver and Lilac are the only survivors, but can they work together to not only survive in this strange world, but find a way to signal for help?
These Broken Stars is filled with really gorgeous world-building and scene setting. On top of that, the action is written a lot like a screenplay – I hope this gets picked up to be made into a film,I could just imagine the enormous Icarus crashing down through the sky! The paperback itself is actually a really gorgeous book as well – inside the covers is filled with a starry sky as well, so I kept catching glimpses of it as I was reading.
There’s very little high-tech sci-fi here – it’s more about survival and rescue on a strange planet. I found the interludes between chapters a little strange – we know right from the start that at least Tarver is going to be rescued at some stage, and I didn’t really like knowing the outcome so early. The chapters in-between make up for it, though.
The story is told from both Lilac’s and Tarver’s points of view, alternating between chapters. Their voices are quite distinct and shows the reader what each is feeling as they face each new challenge. I’m not sure the two of them needed to be sixteen/seventeen and the book marketed as Young Adult – the characters would have much the same reactions to events if they had been a few years older. I suppose the sci-fi romance market is probably bigger for young adults at the moment.
Lilac LaRoux is a very strong character. Brought up in a life of incredible privilege and luxury, Lilac is trapped by her billionaire father’s expectations of her. The crash of the Icarus brings out a strength in her that was missing before. Tarver on the other hand, shows such a sensitive side to his military hero persona that it’s hard to imagine him as a soldier at all by the end. The chemistry between them is delightful and also heartbreaking at times, as they each struggle with their feelings and what will happen if and when they are rescued.
The only problem I had with the way the story unfolded was that it dwelt too much on the relationship. There was an absolute wealth of possibilities they could have explored with the whispers and the past happenings on the planet, and it was sort of glossed over in this book. I’m hoping this will be expanded in the future instalments. I was also a little disappointed with the new world itself. This is a terraformed world, but it’s still alien – couldn’t it have been a little less Earth-like?
I really enjoyed These Broken Stars, especially the fact that the ending is neatly tied up and not a cliff-hanger! I believe there’s a trilogy planned by this Aussie-American duo so I can’t wait to see what happens next.
– Very enjoyable compulsive reading of this story of survival on a strange planet.