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Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Best Book I've Read All Year

They say These Broken Stars, by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner, is like Titanic in space, and I guess I can see why the story’s pitched that way—rich girl and poor boy and fall in love on a doomed ship—but this isn’t Titanic, and you should know that right away.

That’s not a bad thing, this story not being Titanic. But you shouldn’t go into These Broken Stars assuming there will be a lot of lead-up to this magnificent crash. It happens within the first few chapters, and the bulk of the story takes place on a strange planet. It’s a survival story in space that made me think more than once of LOST: crashed ship, dead people popping up in the wilderness, an abandoned building…

This story was unlike any other YA sci-fi novel I’ve read before, in the best way possible. Because this wasn’t a Titanic retelling, I didn’t know what to expect, whether strange things happening on the planet were real or apparitions. The characters (Lilac and Tarver, who take turns narrating) are well-developed, each with their own prejudices and faults that have them at odds with each other for a portion of the book. That setup makes for great character growth, though.

The world-building was fantastic and completely organic. I remember finishing the first few chapters and wondering at how the authors created such a real world without paragraphs of backstory. There’s very little explanation of the world, and yet the story doesn’t need it because we can see and smell and feel it.

And then there’s the ending. Oh goodness that ending. By then I had fallen in love with Lilac and Tarver, and the ending ripped my heart out and slowly put it back together.

I love this book. It’s one of the best books I’ve read all year. (Yes, I’m aware that we’re only a month into the year, but still. I won’t be surprised if on Dec. 31, 2014 I say the same thing.) I’m antsy to read the next book in this series, a companion novel set in the same world. If the writing is half as good as in this book, if the characters half as memorable, I’m guaranteed to enjoy it.

Bottom line: These Broken Stars is one of the best YA sci-fi novels I’ve ever read.

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