Series: Starbound #1
Published by Disney Hyperion on December 10, 2013
Genres: science fiction
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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 into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.
I’ve heard this book described as Titanic in space, and while I suppose that is technically pretty accurate, it really only applies to the first 10% of the story, at which point the crash occurs. From then on, it’s about two brilliant young people from opposite backgrounds who have to learn to work together to survive alone, marooned on a strange planet that seems to be haunted by the ghosts of their ship’s dead.
Lilac is the only child of the wealthiest man in the universe (Which is, by the way, an amount of money that has no comparison in our world. She’s not Paris Hilton-level rich; her father runs a corporation that essentially controls what goes on on almost every planet. And he’s single.) The two of them have been extremely close (not in a creepy way) since the death of her mother, and he’s taught her a great deal about computer programming and how to, like, touch wires to different wires and make them do things. The downside is that she is not allowed to date or even interact casually with men, and the one time she did her father had her lover shipped out to the frontlines of a war. She has several female bodyguards who act like her silly entourage publicly, but actually protect her and, of course, spy on her for her dad. Her life pretty much sucks, but at least she has awesome clothes (I love that she’s wearing Keira Knightley’s Atonement dress on the cover).
Tarver, in contrast, grew up poor, in an artistic family, but has recently become a military hero. At eighteen years old, he’s been considered an adult for two years (Legal adulthood hits at sixteen in the world of this series. Even for boys. I know, it sounds like a disaster.), and his celebrity status has recently forced him to attend super fancy parties where he must rub elbows with super fancy people who make him uncomfortable. It is at one such party that he meets Lilac. He likes her, they get along, and then she is horrible to him (he doesn’t know who she is initially, even though she’s super-fancy-famous because he’s a hick, which is awesome, and she knows nothing can happen between because her father will have him killed–as I read this, it sounds insane, but it all makes sense in context), so they are on decidedly terrible terms when they end up in a lifeboat together. And then stranded on a planet crawling with big scary things and ghosts. I love it.
I adored nearly everything about this book. It has strong feminist bones that really hold up throughout the story (Although the mindset about plastic surgery vs. natural beauty was a bit troublesome; it’s silly to have Tarver comment on how (naturally, obvs) pretty Lilac is in the same chapter where the proliferation of plastic surgery among the upper classes is treated like a bad thing. I mean, is being attractive important or not? If a woman is born ugly, why shouldn’t she make changes to her appearance if it will help her get ahead in the world? The naturally beautiful Lilac has no reason to get work done; had she been born with a huge nose rather than one that is slightly snub she would absolutely have done something to it.), from Lilac’s bodyguards’ competence to her own ability to go toe-to-toe with Tarver, and her leadership skills and ability to fend for herself in no way reduce his masculine hotness. The two of them are perfectly suited to each other because they have opposite strengths. Together they can do absolutely anything, but if they split up they’d be screwed.
Oh, and the romance is perfect. The authors really make the characters work for it every step of the way, so it all feels like it has been earned (Does that make sense?). Lilac (whose name I keep typing as “Violet,” because purple) and Tarver are, being teenagers, definitely instantly attracted to each other, but their love grows out of shared experiences and a need to trust one another absolutely.
There’s a very sad thing that happens toward the end of the book, and I felt kind of weirdly emotionally detached from it, but my detachment didn’t make me dislike the story at all. In fact, when I finished it, I smiled, snuggled into my pillow, and fell fast asleep with a sort of sweet, glow-y feeling. I cannot wait to read the rest of this series; the world that Spooner and Kaufman have created here is rich and warm, and I want to dive into it and never come out.
Check back in with us on Monday, when we’re kicking off the official These Broken Stars Tour! There will be lots of exclusive material, giveaways, and interviews with the authors. You guys, this book is really, really good. I’m so excited for all of you to read it.