Saturday, March 15, 2014

These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars
(Image from
Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Now for the shortest summary in the history of Yas Read Yas:

Space Titanic.

Yeah. Two words. That's all you need to know about the plot for the rest of the review to make sense.

If you want to understand more, the premise is pretty much that the two MCs- Lilac and Tarver- are on a super expensive and big ship that, as you could expect from the shorter summary, crashes. There's some romantic tensions and 49,998 people died. No bueno.

Okay, that longer-but-still-inadequate description doesn't do the book justice, but anyway! Reviewsies!

I hate to say it, but I'm a total reading hipster. The Fault in Our Stars? Psh, too mainstream (I did read it, though). Twilight? Pshhhh, too horrible. So when I read the cover flap of These Broken Stars, I was kind of like 'Wow, this sounds really ordinary. Hm. Probably cliches and glitter.' But, like Pi, human stupidity is infinitely finite, so I picked it up.

I admit now that perhaps reading this wasn't such a lapse into my stupid side.

There are two main characters, whose POVs the book alternates between. Lilac is a wealthy socialite, Tarver is a jaded low-class soldier. I'm going have to say here that I wasn't particularly fond of Tarver. It wasn't the way he was written or what his actions were, he just wasn't... special, I guess? I mean, I understand that if he was a super speshul snowflake, I wouldn't like him, either. At the same time, though, he didn't do anything that really stood out. His personality didn't stand out. His backstory didn't stand out. And when someone does so little to stand out, they begin to fade off. Other than being a soldier, he sounded a lot like the hundred other male MCs and love interests I've read about. He wasn't bad at all, he just had an air of safety, bubble-wrapping his personality to ensure no one would feel either way about him. 

Lilac, however... I liked Lilac. If there's one cliche that really, really gets me in YA books, it's the 'I'm not like the other girls' thing. As far as I could tell, Lilac was like those mysterious 'other girls'. And that is beautiful. She had grit, but could totally waltz into a ball and be 100% comfortable in a dress. She didn't have to take her time stepping on other girls and screaming, 'Me! I'm important! I'm better them, huh, aren't I?! I drink tea and climb trees! I hate the other girls! Aren't I better than them?!' A heroine whose 'good marks' don't require vilifying others or treating them like the enemy is a heroine who deserves to be read.

Despite Lilac being an above-average character, the plot coasted on 'decent' for most of the book. It was roughly what I expected for the first 75%. Some romantic tension, brief fights about class differences, mortal danger that brings them closer together, lots of angst about their respective pasts, blah blah blah. I wasn't really expecting it to get interesting. But it did! In the last 25%, that is. Which is a bit hard to get to unless you have either a sense of dogged determination or too much free time.

The timing and pace, as I think you can assume from the 75/25 thing up there, wasn't too great. If the (SPOILERS, SKIP AHEAD TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH TO AVOID THEM) energy being/telepath thing had been introduced halfway, not three-quarters of the way, through the book, I think it would have read a little easier.

I loved the survival side of the story, though. I am 100% fu-fu. The idea of having to go weeks without hot water or tea or anything is, frankly, terrifying. Having nothing to eat but ration bars and grasses is also on the 'nope' side of things.

The non-survival plot elements were pretty fab, too. (SPPPOOOOOIIIILLLLEEEERRRRSSSSS) The whispers (Eee! They didn't unnecessarily capitalize 'whispers'! Yay!) were friggn' cool. Also, I must celebrate the fact that this wasn't suspension of disbelief sci-fi (read: The Future of Us). The authors actually explained why there were visions and whispers and such. The backstories seemed to pretty much center around people the MCs loved dying, which felt a little overdone after a while. However, since the entire book had a big thing about lots people dying, per Titanic tradition, it wasn't too bad like that.

Lastly, the romance. I would like to make it clear that I am not a fan of I-hate-you-I-love-you romances. This one, though, at least deserved to be called 'decent' (at most, it deserved to be called 'Fred'). I understand this doesn't sound like a step up, but it is. The only time the romance actually bothered me or got in the way of the plot was for about twenty pages late in the book. And that's because every other scene was them kissing or referencing shirtlessness. Then the kiss-noshirt-kiss-noshirt thing dies down and we go back to dining on the succulent meat of the plot.

(PS: They totally had sex.)


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