Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
THE STORY (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 into 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 here 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.
These Broken Stars is a story that appears to move quietly despite the enormous tragedy responsible for Lilac and Tarver's presence on an unknown planet, but every footfall across the unfamiliar landscape seems to echo and grow louder until their journey reverberates through us, imprinting itself deeper onto our minds and hearts with every page. Aside from an intriguing mystery slowly unraveling thanks to two outstanding protagonists, the setup itself proves to be equally fascinating, the alternating perspectives of Lilac and Tarver interrupted with short dialogue snippets from what is clearly a post-rescue debriefing of Tarver. At first it seems as though these short detours might not be entirely necessary, but soon we come to see the level of intimacy they provide us as we watch Tarver expertly deflect some questions and outright lie as answer to others, all the while reveling in the knowledge that we're privy to what his interviewers so desperately want to know.
Lilac is a young women hard to define in the beginning, her moods and behavior shifting quickly from one moment to the next so that we never quite get a read on her, always dodging our attempts to connect to her with a level of skill borne of someone who's relentlessly pursued the art of how to isolate themselves from those around them. She's defiant out of spite when she and Tarver initially crash land, earning her negative opinion points when she ignores Tarver's clearly superior survival knowledge, yet as the story progresses she becomes not only a partner to him, but also a leader in her own right. She sheds the skin of the girl who pushes everyone's buttons to keep them at arm's length, leaving her behind in a torn heap of green fabric and pulling on the strength and determination of a fighter who doesn't know how to lose.
Tarver is much easier to relate to from the first chapter, clearly out of place amidst the elite on board the Icarus and rather brutally shot down by Lilac early on for daring not to recognize the face that goes with the infamous name. Once on the new planet he's calm and collected, the soldier with years of experience in the field asserting himself and ensuring he provides a sometimes-infuriating Lilac with the best chance of getting rescued. As Lilac grows throughout this first installment, so too does Tarver, some of his training melting away to show us the man beneath the military know-how; one with a heart that had previously only beat for a lost brother and the family he left behind, but now finds a new rhythm inspired by red hair, a quick wit, and an aptitude for all things electronic. He's strong when Lilac needs him to be, but he also has a gift for knowing when she needs to be one who feels in control, and the two of them together make a pair so beautifully perfect for one another we almost wish the rescue we know is coming would suddenly get lost en route and leave them to their striking solitude.
There are of course questions left unanswered in the end after all Tarver and Lilac uncover, but we do learn enough about the planet's secrets to satisfy us for the time being, leaving us content to wait for the next book rather than cursing the authors for their cruelty. Overall, These Broken Stars is a spectacular start to this series, expertly detailing both the individual growth of our two protagonists as well as their progression as a couple, and testing our emotional resiliency in the later chapters when rescue–though we know it to be inevitable given Tarver's debriefing–seems to lose all meaning, and hope is something we dare not feel for the loss of it would be a fate worse than death for two people we've come to love with rather impressive fierceness.
This book was given to me by the publisher at BEA free of charge for the purpose of a review.
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.