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

Posted March 24, 2014 by Debby in Book Reviews

Book Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan SpoonerThese Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Series: Starbound #1
Published by Hyperion on December 10th, 2013
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 374
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

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.


A timeless love story, THESE BROKEN STARS sets into motion a sweeping science fiction series of companion novels. The Starbound Trilogy: Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.

4 Stars

These Broken Stars has all the ingredients that would usually blow me away and name it an all-time favorite. While I still did love it, I’m not quite over the moon because, yes, once again, the hype train is rolling along. This was one of the most hyped books of 2013, and while I suppose the hype was deserved, it’s hard for any book to live up to the high expectations that result. For me, however, it was the reading experience itself that was encumbered.

Yeah, let’s get that hype complaint out of the way first. See, this is a case where I know, without a doubt, that I would have enjoyed this book more if I had heard nothing about it ahead of time. As such, I did my best – I stayed away from all reviews, discussion, etc. about this book. However, how can one not notice, when all of their friends read the book in the same 2-3 weeks, and mark the exact same page number in a status update on Goodreads? Indeed, what These Broken Stars had going for it was this massive, unexpected plot twist that broke peoples’ hearts.

While I can’t blame people for posting an update when they were that shocked, the result was that I knew there would be a twist, and I subconsciously was guessing at it the entire time I was reading. My first theory, at a mere 30 pages or so into the book, was correct – precisely because I knew it would be the last thing I would expect. And still my mind involuntarily obsessed about this twist, counting down the pages until it happened and… ugh. I just wish that I could have focused more on the story itself in the present – but my brain wouldn’t let me.

However, overall, I still did really love this book. I adored the start, when Tarver and Lilac meet aboard the Icarus. I loved the technology, the culture aboard the ship. Overall, the world building, with terraforming corporations and such, was truly excellent. Anyway, I love seeing that kind of star-crossed love start between people from different classes. Though Lilac’s society is really uppity, the setting had such charm to it. I feared that with the kind of “clandestine” meeting the two had, it would aim towards instalove, not unlike the story’s comparison to Titanic, but, luckily, the love story had a twist.

Even before the ship goes down, the two are rather resentful to each other. There’s a clear attraction between them, but also a clear frustration due to their differences in status. Lilac’s father, practically the most powerful man in the galaxy, would, according to Lilac, pretty much ruin Tarver’s life if he was even seen in her presence more than a couple of times. And then… the ship goes down. And they’re stranded, just the two of them. Two people who at least claim to hate each other stuck together? With banter? Oh you know I’m shipping this.

The survival story here is just about as good as survival stories get, for me. Lilac obviously has a lot to adjust to, but her headstrong nature keeps her from giving up. Though Tarver is frustrated by her relative weakness, he does everything he can to motivate her to keep moving and protects her whenever he is able. It wasn’t hard to start cheering for them and hope that the romance would happen. When it did… I swooned a bit. There could have been more feels, and maybe I filled in the blanks a little, but I loved it.

The plot certainly packs a punch as well though. The story is quite engaging (despite my hype problem), as the chapters are separated by snippets of interviews taking place after the whole ordeal. It drives you to keep reading and find out what’s going on. The planet seems abandoned, but there is a mystery as well. Strange things start happening, making Lilac and Tarver question whether there is some life after all or if they’re just going mad. I loved the uniqueness of that plot. It had moments where it was dark and creepy and did a serious mindfuck. It was intriguing and engaging, right until the very end.

As a last note, at the beginning Tarver and Lilac had very distinctive voices for the PoVs and I adored that. I didn’t have to question who was who. They each had their own solid personalities and motivations, and I liked seeing the contrast. But, of course, as this is a survival story, Lilac gradually gets stronger. I loved seeing that growth, no doubt! When Tarver was incapacitated and she had to fend for herself, I was cheering for her. It was great! But, after that, when there were chapters of traveling, their voices had grown closer together. Sometimes I did have to check back to see whose chapter it was. I guess it also symbolizes how their relationship got closer and the difference between their circumstances became smaller, but generally I dislike it if the PoVs are not distinctive.

Summing Up:

I wish the hype didn’t get in the way here, because I would be over the moon for this book. I’m pretty sure that if I reread it, I would love it even more. Having let it all digest for a few days and now looking back, I am really impressed by this story. I loved the plot, storytelling, characters, and world building… I’m only sad that the plot didn’t shock me – that I managed to guess what that huge twist would be (and how quickly that plot twist was resolved =/). But it marks the start of a great series for sure, because I can’t wait to see more sides of this world. This author partnership is a golden match, and I’m eager to check out both of their other works.

GIF it to me straight!

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Recommended To:

Fans of survival stories like Under the Never Sky and romances like The Winner’s Curse.

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8 responses to “Book Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

  1. I can’t believe I haven’t read this one yet. I feel like it came out ages ago with all the hype.

    I’m really bad about trying to guess twists, so I’m a little worried I’ll have the same reaction as you, but I’m glad to see it’s still a four star read. Thanks for the review!

  2. It sucks that the hype got in the way for you! The publisher gave me an eARC for review and I was over the moon with this story, but I can see how the hype might take that away from you (which sucks… because everyone should have the full experience!) and I know the Hype was there, I mean, everybody was raving about this book. Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads were filled with it, it was hard to miss.

    That being said, your feelings about this book are pretty much my feelings about the book (only I managed to read it before the hype reached its high). I loved this book, it’s such a powerful story 🙂

    Great Review!

  3. This was one of the first books I picked up after my slump, and I only got it because I thought the cover was gorgeous. I had no idea to expect a big twist, and so I wasn’t looking for one, and so I was completely blind-sided when it happened! I hope you do get a chance to re-read this, without that lingering over your head, so you can enjoy it as it was meant to be enjoyed!

  4. Despite the hype and all the talk about the big twist, I’m glad to hear that you still enjoyed this and gave it 4 stars! I agree that maybe you need to re-read it at a later point to appreciate it better!
    Great review, Debby!

  5. It makes me so happy that you used a Titanic GIF for this review! I really enjoyed These Broken Stars. While it didn’t quite hit all-time favorite status with me either, I thought the writing was beautiful and totally loved Tarver to pieces. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next one, a companion novel with another set of characters to fall in love with (I’m hoping!).

  6. I just loved everything about this book – the character development, the romance, the dual point-of-view, the survival aspect, the paranormal bits, etc. And I especially like the fact that it’s a companion series. I was completely shocked by the twist and it took me a while to come to terms with it. I had to put the book down for a little bit because I was not happy. It’s still difficult to wrap my mind around, but I just grew to accept it. I think Tarver’s response and gradual change of heart really helped.

    Sorry this didn’t work *quite* as much as you expected, but I’m glad it was mostly positive!

  7. The hype for this book was ridiculous. I mean, by magic a month out, everyone posted there reviews within like four books. I saw a few bloggers call it basically perfect. Is it any wonder I ended up a grumpy black sheep when I got to that ending?

    What confuses me most about this book is why everyone else thought Tarver and Lilac had such vibrant, unique voices, and I couldn’t tell them apart. I assume it’s a failing on my part but whah?