It recently came to my attention, dear readers, (as recently as 10 seconds ago) that I have greatly wronged you. In one of my posts, not terribly long ago, I bragged about a new book I planned to read (This Shattered World), which happens to be the sequel to the fantastic book I am writing to you about today/tonight, since it’s 1:08 AM from where I sit. I apologize for boasting that I planned to read This Shattered World before even telling you what the first book by Ms. Kaufman was about!
Shame on me. I take the blame.
But These Broken Stars is definitely worth your agonizing wait.
Before I go into my review, let me give you fair warning that THIS WILL BE A LONG REVIEW. I have much to say about this book so if you had any plans for the evening, cancel them or close my blog, one. This could take a while.
You have been fairly warned.
When I was first introduced to this book by my wonderful friends on Goodreads, I thought that it was some knockoff of The Fault in Our Stars and I never really got into that book too much.
But, man, was I wrong.
Apart from the word “stars” used in both titles, These Broken Stars has nothing to do with The Fault in Our Stars. In fact, I think These Broken Stars branches away from every other YA Sci-Fi novel I’ve ever read! Which is why it is so astonishing that I failed to review it here. Honestly, this was probably one of my favorite books, like, ever.
Lilac LaRoux is our female lead. She is the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in ― get this … ― the universe. And beautiful Miss Lilac has quite the protective father. Lilac is immediately introduced as the snobby, rich girl in the story. She catches the attention of Major Tarver Marendsen, universally-known war hero but ultimately so many levels below Lilac, due to his heritage, that any chance of a relationship should be immediately squashed, according to Lilac’s overprotective friends (and a cousin) who are being paid off by Daddy to keep the boys away.
Lilac and Tarver meet while aboard the Icarus, a lightspeed-traveling ship that is literally leaping across the universe. Lilac flirts with Tarver at first but after a few minutes, Lilac shoos Tarver along.
Tarver, not realizing who Lilac is, is convinced that he is going to get to know this girl. That is, until realization dawns on him and he feels like an absolute fool for flirting with the daughter of Roderick LaRoux. Add that to the fact that Lilac doesn’t want to get him in trouble with her father so she totally blows him off and you’ve got a pretty dead-end situation. Tarver and Lilac part ways and that should be that.
But one of the many reasons I love this story? It doesn’t mess around. By chapter four, a monkey wrench has already been thrown in. The Icarus has been jerked out of hyperspace and as a result, the engines are failing and the ship is tearing itself apart. In the confusion, Lilac is nearly trampled and who comes to her rescue? None other than our amazing hero, Tarver.
Thankfully, since Lilac was around while her Daddy was having the ship constructed, she knows exactly where the “help’s” escape pods are, since there’s no time to get to her personal pod. They make a dash for the escape pods and barely make it out of the Icarus. Needless to say, Tarver and Lilac crash-land on an unknown planet. And they’re the only survivors.
“Oh, typical,” you say. “How could that happen?”
Read the book. It makes sense.
Their pod is completely destroyed on the outside, their communication box torn off, the Icarus is nowhere in sight, Tarver is growing annoyed with Lilac, and Lilac is wearing heels and refuses to take them off, despite her blisters. It can’t get much worse, can it?
Yeah. It can.
There is something mysterious about this planet. According to Tarver, it’s in the early stages of terraformation, but it’s been left in these early stages for years! So what drove away the terraformers? Could it be the creepy whispers that keep following them around? Voices in Lilac’s head? Voices that Tarver can’t hear at first?
I’m willing to bet: Yes.
Although, it could have also been the man-eating beasts that are lurking in the jungle. There’s always that possibility.
In this edge-of-your-seat story of perilous, hopeless situations and literal star-crossed love, Lilac and Tarver must find a way to get off this planet … or must they?
Oh, goodie, guys! It’s my favorite part!
Since we began with Lilac above, we’ll begin with Tarver down here.
Tarver come from a small town from a small home. His brother died in the armed forces and his mother and father grieve him, but they also grieve for Tarver, who they believe will be their next great loss. Tarver never wanted to become a war hero, he just did what he thought was right in the heat of the moment and was praised because of it.
While the media praises Tarver for his skill and accomplishments, everyone knows that he is of “inferior” birth, so there’s no ladder to climb for him. Actually, there is a ladder, there’s just tons of other people on the rungs above him so he’s stuck somewhere on the third or fourth rung. Obviously, Tarver has no hope with Lilac, and he understands that. He also understands that Miss Lilac LaRoux must be a real witch with a B and when he discovers who she is, he wants nothing to do with her.
Kudos, Tarver. Smart decision. The girl’s trouble.
After crash landing with Lilac, Tarver becomes annoyed with her almost instantly. Lilac seems to be unappreciative of Tarver and his knowledge so Tarver threatens to leave her behind several times. And guess what? He does! Things don’t end well for either of them but the point is, he left her behind. So that proves something about his character. He is just as stubborn and head-strong as Lilac.
Just kidding, guys, it actually turns out fine.
However, Tarver begins to feel sorry for Lilac and respects her stubbornness and will to survive ― and have her way. And when Tarver falls ill and Lilac helps heal him? That only adds to his respect for her. As Lilac’s character begins to change and Tarver begins to see the real Lilac, the one that has remained untouched by the media and popular culture dying to learn all her secrets, he begins to fall in love with her. But, oh no, that can’t happen! Tarver puts an end to that almost before it starts. And it’s really, really, sad because this is the best romance I have read in a modern book in a really, really long time. I would say this ties with Clockwork Angel for best romance.
Anyway, I’m not talking about the romance now. Back to Tarver.
Tarver doesn’t want to allow his feelings to run away with him and strangely enough, it’s his hallucination of a brother that convinces him that it’s alright. And then when Tarver falls for her, he falls hard. Like “can’t-live-without-the-girl” kind of hard. Of course, he has been stuck on a creepy planet with her for a really long time so how can feelings not develop?
As I said above, Tarver gets to the point with Lilac where he doesn’t think he can function without Lilac, and his feelings and will and skill set are put to the test when ***SPOILER REMOVED BECAUSE IT’S THE BIGGEST SPOILER IN THE BOOK***.
So that paragraph was basically pointless. It deserves a strike-through.
My point is, Tarver is amazing. Read the book, if only to read about Tarver.
Young Miss Lilac LaRoux is not your typical Sci-Fi YA heroine. She is snobby at some points, doesn’t know how to wield a bow and arrow, thank you Lord, and has no real survival skills! She is forced to rely upon Tarver. I think that’s why I love this book most.
Actually, maybe not. There are so many other reasons.
Lilac is stubborn to a fault, but I think I’ve said that already. She will do anything to avoid being proven wrong. But she isn’t as snobbish as you think. Her true character is revealed as the storyline continues and her feelings towards Tarver develop, faster than Tarver’s develop, even! That’s not something you see a lot in YA novels. The girl making the first move. Which kind of surprises me. With all of the feminist stuff in books these days, it’s still the guy that makes the first move. I smell a contradiction but whatever. Point is, this is a cool change of pace.
While Lilac recognizes at first that she and Tarver are just not meant to be, as she becomes less and less hopeful that a rescue ship will come for them, she becomes more and more hopeful that she and Tarver have a chance to be together after all, even if it’s on this horrid planet.
But something that Tarver doesn’t know about Lilac? She has a hero personality type. And it gets her into huge trouble. Huge, can’t-be-taken-back kind of trouble. And Tarver is pulled along for the ride.
In the end, Lilac is caring and compassionate and, as stated above, has a wonderfully heroic personality. After Lilac finds out that Tarver’s brother died in the armed forces and that his parents fear the same for Tarver, Lilac promises herself that Tarver will go home, no matter what. That his parents deserve to have their son back in their arms. And Lilac will do anything to make sure that that happens.
This is such a fantastic example of excellent modern romance. There is no insta-love in this book, which is so, so, so appreciated. Tarver and Lilac have no intentions of falling in love. In fact, they really dislike each other for the first several chapters. Later, when they begin warming up to each other (as unlikely friends at most) and begin to see that the other isn’t quite as bad as they imagined, they begin to soften their opinions, which leads to such a sweet story!
No joke, if I say anything else about the romance, I’m going to reveal the HUGE plot twist in the end, so… Bye.
One of the best elements in this book is the little snippets of an interrogation that are thrown in between chapters between Tarver and … who? A possible commander? His CO? It doesn’t make sense at first but it will later so just keep reading.
“What did you hope to gain by making for the structure?”
“Better shelter, at least. Some method of communication, at most.”
“With whom did you wish to communicate?”
“Is that a trick question?”
“All our questions are extremely serious, Major.”
“Anybody who could hear us. I had Lilac LaRoux with me. I knew her father would stage a retrieval at any cost, if he knew where we were.”
“It was on your mind that you were with Monsieur LaRoux’s daughter.”
“It could hardly escape me.”
“Just the two of you, alone.”
“I noticed that too.”
See that? That’s an example from the book. Is that not freaking amazing? So you have those little snippets of thought-inducing information throughout the book and then you have the perfect romance combined with a very unique storyline and … well, I’d call that a successful book, wouldn’t you?
Well, ladies and gents, I think I’ve done about all the damage I can do tonight. My mind is dying down, now that it is 1:21 AM and sleep depravation is getting to me. Oh, the struggles of a blogger! How will I overcome them?
As always, my dignified closing note:
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE READ THESE BROKEN STARS I FLIPPIN’ LOVE THE BOOK SO MUCH AND OTHER PEOPLE NEED TO BE ABLE TO FANGIRL ABOUT THIS WITH ME SO PLEASE, PLEASE, I BEG YOU, READ THESE BROKEN STARS!
No comments, please. I’m aware that could have been slightly more dignified but when you’re as on fire for a book as I am for this one, it’s kind of hard to be dignified.
What’s on your bookshelf?
[Featured image from Potato Prints]