Monday, December 30, 2013

These Broken Stars, by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner: The Titantic Sinks in an Outer Space Blue Lagoon!

These Broken Stars
Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Hyperion: New York, 2013.
ISBN: 9781423171027
ARC provided by publisher
Book Club Recipe suggestion: These Broken Ration Bars (aka Date Bars with Almond and Coconut)

Ms. Lilac La Roux and Major Tarver Merendsen were passengers of the Icarus, the finest, newest and most technologically advanced spaceship across the many galaxies.  Tarver is a war hero, recently returned from battle and being paraded around and shown off by the military on tour.  Lilac is the only child of the richest man in the universe.  Now, though, they are the only two survivors after disaster befalls the ship.  Stranded on a strange planet, they must survive both the unknown planet, strange whispers they are hearing, and their mutual discord if they have any hopes of living long enough to repair the beacon that will signal their SOS.  But, as they grow to develop a slow-burning bond that is more than mere friendship, they begin to wonder: are they really better off being rescued?  Fast-paced, dramatic, and unexpected, this is a spectacularly fun, engrossing, and totally accessible Sci-Fi title filled with adventure, romance, and intrigue.   It is a STRONG recommendation for anyone who likes their Sci-Fi light on the Sci and heavy on snappy writing, adventure, high-stakes, and romance.  I’m looking at you, readers of this blog. 

This super title came into my orbit (see what I did there?) this summer when I was lucky enough to be working at the best bookstore in all the lands (all of them).  One of my fellow booksellers and I were chatting about what we’d been reading and she’d just finished it.  She summed it up as…Titanic in space.  And she’s TOTALLY RIGHT.  OMG you guys.  It was a tonic to my 13-year-old self, she of the three viewings of Titanic in movie theatres and listening to the CD so much it broke (that must have been awful, sorry, family).  I’m pretty sure I’d re-read this at LEAST three times in a row if I were 13.  I’d go one step further and add that it’s like Titanic in space with shades of Outlander and a healthy dash of Blue Lagoon… Which is why, readers of this blog, I suspect that the vast majority of you will more than dig this.  Even the dudes.  I’m not genderist (okay, well, ladies will probably dig it a little more).   

THIS IS WHY WE ARE BEST FRIENDS.

Now, let us take a walk with my brain through this super fun read together, in bullet form, because my brain is unable to form full paragraphs and desperate for some vacation!


  • Let us start from the top: the cover.  It’s a little…floaty silly.  I’m pretty sure that’s Taylor Swift in a red wig and awesome dress (I want to borrow it and swish around my apartment).  They’re like…floating.  And apparently this dude wears Under Armour with a belt?  Bold choice.  It made me wonder if there was some zero gravity business, other than of the heart, because obviously, these two cats are going to meow together, sooner or later, because obviously, and also perhaps need each other, hence the floaty reaching.  Mostly, I’m all for the stars in the background.  Hook, line, stinker, this book cover had me at hello.
  • One of the first things I noticed was the irony of naming a spaceship Icarus.  I mean…come on.  That’s like a not so special invitation to the black tie disaster ball, right?  I thought it was a little heavy handed.  Luckily, it totally is, and also Tarver is smart, despite his questionable taste in Underarmor and belts, and picked up on the same, as he calls it, hubris (p 205).  See?  Smart. That’s probably an SAT vocabulary word.  And while the ship name choice is definitely a decision of the writers (obvi), I like that it is more a choice of character development of Lilac’s father, ergo, her, Juno?
  • Now let us wane on about these names.  Mostly, Tarver.  Only Tarver.  Whhhattt? Where did that come from?  I can’t decide where I fall regarding it on the love-hate spectrum.
  • I am not a person who chooses to read a lot of science fiction (or high fantasy, for that matter).  I am not a person who can really suspend reality without a ridiculous number of questions.  Say, just say, I am reading a book about blue aliens in space.  This, for example, is how my mind rolls.
    “I want to know why these space aliens are blue.  Is it the food?  Do they even eat? If yes, where does it come from?  If no, why not?  If yes, do they have indoor plumbing?  Why did the author choose blue? Is their food blue?  Do I have any blueberries? Do I want a snack? Does this all mean something? Why blue?  Why space?  Why aliens? Why am I even thinking about this?  This makes no sense.  I want a snack.” 
    You see, friends?  I am not a person for whom lots of science-y science fiction is a good idea.  I have too many questions, too little time.  Yet this is a work that falls firmly into the science fiction category.  It’s about space travel, other planets, and maybe aliens, for cripes sakes!  But like all good science fiction (aka the stuff I’ve found myself enjoying over the years), its got the science and the fiction, but it’s about way more than that.  There is adventure, survival, being stranded, personal politics, military deets, interesting characters, trust building, mass graves, etc.  It’s JUST like Battlestar Galactica….err, if there were only two characters (but you should definitely check that one out, yesterday).   Basically, this book is shades of Outlander meets Titantic meets the Blue Lagoon in hyperspace.  But what I find and found myself wondering is: does this make super space nerd levels of sci-fi acceptable, cool even, to the type of more the more mainstream girls (and maybe some boys) who this cover is marketing towards?
  • The ending.  No spoilers.  It’s a planned trilogy.  So…I’m okay with it. Because two more books!  But it’s a bit of a Catch-22, right?  We can discuss it when you are done, readers.  Please.   Someone take pity on me and discuss this with me.  I’ve been dealing with it alone since AUGUST.
  • Lastly, here is the most important question of all.  I can’t be the only person who wonders this, either. Why, oh WHY, great Internet hive mind, in these extreme survival moments, do almost all authors fail to discuss the all important need, other than food, water, and shelter.  Yes. You know what it is. POOPING. Yeah, I said it. 
    No TP, no privacy, no trees?  I mean, come on. What’s a high class broad like Lilac LaRoux gonna do? It’s a serious question! She’s not going to react well!  She’s wearing a ballroom gown!  Her ladies aren’t there to help a sister out!  The dude she’s with is super cute and looks good in Under Armour (that is not an underrated talent).  It’s an awkward situation! It’s a vital need!  My mind went there!  Don’t judge meeeee!
The moral of the story is this: if you are looking for a book to get lost in, look no further and immediately get lost in space with These Broken Stars (and wonder about bathroom needs in space or in general, time and space travel, Under Armour military uniforms, slow burning romance, and why I know I had you all at Titanic in space).  I think this may be one of my favorite of 2013!

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