Book Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)

Title: These Broken Stars (The Starbound Trilogy #1)
Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopia, Romance
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publication Date: 1st December 2013
Pages: 374
Rating: 4.5 stars

Synopsis (from goodreads):
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.

The first in a sweeping science fiction trilogy, These Broken Stars is a timeless love story about hope and survival in the face of unthinkable odds.

My Review:

Lilac is the richest girl in the universe. Tarver is a soldier from humble beginnings. Set aboard an enormous luxury ship making its way across the universe, I expected These Broken Stars to be a futuristic Titanic story. But Lilac and Tarver’s story is so much more. Neither of them are just what they appear to be – they are so much more. Lilac, the rich girl in the fancy outfits is brave and willing to do whatever it takes to survive. Tarver, a young war hero who wants none of the fame or prominence that it affords him. When their cruise liner comes into some trouble, quick thinking from the pair helps them avoid immediate catastrophe but that is only the start of their worries.

One of the strengths of this novel is the dual narration. The switching point of view from Lilac to Tarver was fantastic to read. Their interactions were great  and the characters were well-defined. I loved how they viewed the same situations differently but both felt fully justified for feeling the way they did. Both Lilac and Tarver are incredibly strong characters. Lilac is completely out of her comfort zone but refuses to give up and Tarver is patient and refuses to leave a man (or in this case heiress) behind. I felt like they brought out the best and worst in each other and that made the novel realistic despite the futuristic setting.

Plot wise – this book is amazing. I thought I knew what was going to happen and then so much more happened. The journey following Lilac and Tarver is heartbreaking and beautiful. I loved being a part of their adventure and the tragedies they faced. There were many times when I found myself shocked by the events and blind sighted – but despite not expecting these twists they felt natural to the story and not just put in for added drama. The story is beautifully crafted and I loved every minute I spent reading this novel.

I have no idea how two people could come together and write a novel which is as wonderfully put together as These Broken Stars. Lilac and Tarver’s narrations fit together perfectly and the story flows well. There’s suspense, a gorgeous love story and an interesting plot all wrapped together in an otherworldly setting. As the first book in a trilogy – this novel has done a fantastic job. I can not wait to read the next two books and see just what happens next.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for the review copy

Purchase the novel from:

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | BookWorld

Book Review: Queen & Commander by Janine A. Southard

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Title: Queen and Commander

Author: Janine Southard

Summary:

On a world where high school test scores determine your future career, six students rebel.

A pair of star-crossed lovers plot to stay together, rather than be separated by the system’s college plans. A former off-worlder instigates: there’s a ship in orbit, he says. We could take it and run away.

But to take the ship, the three conspirators need more friends. Enter Rhiannon, the girl who set herself up for the ultimate success on this planet. She made sure her test would give the desired result: Queen. But her best friend begs her to take control of this plan to run away. So she drafts a would-be doctor who believes in following his Queen with all his heart. She finds a genius who can’t seem to make the system work for him.

And then she gets them qualified for the ship in orbit. The ship to freedom. Now what will they do with it? And was freedom what they really wanted?

Excerpt

Winning a ship means surpassing the competition.

The three competing Queens swiveled their heads, hare-quick, to home in on new prey. They’d ignored her until she’d made that noise. Now they had the scent of fresh insecurity and would peck away until they laid her meager confidence bare for the massacre.

“What a sweet little girl,” gushed the one in red. “Where’s your mother?”

Dead, actually. Well, if this Queen planned to come after her for her age, she’d show her appreciation in the way only a younger person could. She raised her eye­brows and furrowed them down the middle, then pulled her head back onto her neck as though repulsed or doing a proper sit-up.

From the way the older woman cringed back, Rhiannon knew she’d succeeded in making the derisive Did you seriously just say that to me? face that she’d seen on her more critical peers.

A teenager can out bitch-face you any time, Queenie. Don’t try that tactic with me.

The eldest cocked her head, more curious than cruel. Perhaps she found it as difficult to gauge Rhian­non’s age as the other way around. As far as Rhiannon knew, this woman had been one of Dyfed’s first Queens, self-made and just as untrained as herself. “Why do you think you deserve Ceridwen’s Cauldron?”

Review:

In a world where Queens rule and their Devoted men follow their orders – Rhiannon manages to beat the system. She gets the results from the test that she wants and is now Queen and Commander. So when her best friend comes to her in need help there’s nothing Rhiannon wouldn’t do to assist. Even if it means forming a mismatched group (a Hive) to run a spaceship. Sounds a little kooky? It may be but somehow it just works.

I loved the antics of Rhiannon and her Hive. There’s the forbidden lovers, Victor and Gwyn, who are willing to leave everything they’ve ever known for a chance to be together. Gavin is an off-worlder who grew up in the theatre and is prone to start sprouting play lines at the drop of a hat. Alan is brilliant but can’t make it in proper society. Luciano has risen above his standings and is now set to become a doctor but instead of formally continuing his studies he follows his devotion for Rhiannon and becomes a member of their band of misfits. And then there’s Rhiannon. She’s always dreamed of becoming a Queen and Commander – and she got there. But sometimes dreams never turn out quite as you imagined. But Rhiannon is there for her Hive and determined to be the best she can be.

The Dyfed way of life is somewhat based on Welsh Society and I thought that was a fascinating concept. There are words used that I’d never heard before but thankfully they were translated for me or I’d have spent half this novel googling them and been taken out of the world that the story creates. I thought the Hive idea to be interesting and whilst I loved how much attention was paid to Rhiannon and her Hive – I didn’t quite understand how this society worked. I would have liked to have seen a little more detail regarding how their society actually functions – especially for those without ships.

Queen & Commander has a lot going for it. The characters are ones I wanted to read more about and find out just what was going to happen next. The plot progresses at a great speed with plenty going on both relationship wise and with regards to action and drama. I can only imagine how the characters and plot are going to evolve in the second instalment of the Hive Queen Saga.

About the Author

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Janine A. Southard writes speculative fiction and videogame dialogue from her home in Seattle, WA. She sings with a Celtic band and is working on the next book in the Hive Queen universe. She’s also been known to read aloud to her cat.

The cat appreciates all of these things. Maybe.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Where to buy Queen & Commander:

Amazon – US |UK

B&N Nook- US | UK

iTunes- US | UK

Kobo- US | UK