I really like dystopia and science fiction novels. Put in a decent love story and a mystery the main characters have to solve and it should be a real winner. Despite the freaking cover that I most certainly did not like and it being marketed as "If you like The Selection”, I was persuaded by the 4 and 5 star reviews to give it a try.
On my path to finally enjoy this piece of space opera there were obstacles to overcome: Apparently there are hundreds of people who got approved for an ARC. I was not one of them. Disney Hyperion and I have not a very good relationship. They denied me almost every time I tried to apply for an ARC on Netgalley. I have to tell you it makes me not like them either. So instead I got an ARC copy of “These broken stars” via a friend of mine. This is still an honest review despite my misgievings for the publisher.
In anticipation of a good story I made myself a hot chocolate with marshmallows, enveloped in very comfy blanket and started reading. Unfortunately my hopes for a good novel to read on a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon were dashed pretty fast. Pretty rich girl (the richest in the whole galaxy of course) meets decorated soldier, a war hero no less. Because her father doesn’t like her to date, he kills all boys who even look at her twice let alone have the audacity to talk to her and ask her on a date. So the pretty rich girl is being very unfriendly to our poor Major which leads to a long lasting animosity between our two protagonists. On their extended trip on an abandoned planet they overcome their misunderstandings and develop real deep feelings for each other. Nice enough love setup but it was the mystery behind the planet that kept me reading, not the epic love the author intended to create here.
Maybe it would have been better to make this a New Adult novel and let the characters be older. Come on you want me to believe in epic love at 16, or that there are war heroes at the age of 18? The characters don’t even behave like teens. They are much more grown-up. Another point that didn’t work for me much is this regency crap dress she’s wearing throughout the story. Why does it always have to be wide flaring ball gowns? There’s a reason why this fashion is outdated today. Please don’t try to make me believe we would actually return to old fashion standards in the future. In the middle ages people thought that washing was unhealthy. In the 17th century men and women wore wigs and bonnets. If as an author you take the time to create such a splendid science fiction world with hyperspace travel and terraforming at least you could take 5 minutes to think of a futuristic fashion style that is convincing. One of my favorites for example is shown in the movie The 5th Element.
The setup reminded me simply too much of the Titanic. But whereas Kate Winslett and Leonardo diCaprio had me convinced Lilac and Tarver made me yawn. Another small point that might have benefitted the story: secondary characters. There are for the most part none because from 50.000 passengers onboard the ship only those two survive. (Of course only Lilac the rich spoiled 16 year old girl was able to shortcircuit the "life raft")10% into the story the ship breaks down and our teen rich girl and war hero are alone until almost to the end. Another reviewer here wrote that Tarver and Lilac had less chemistry than Tom Hanks and Wilson the volleyball. And she’s right. When almost 90% of the story is made up by the interaction of only two characters they better be real good.
The opening chapters are so interesting and intense, full of action, but with their landing on the planet the momentum is lost and I never got caught back up with the novel after that.