Thursday, July 24, 2014

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner (Starbound book 1)

Major Tarver Merendsen is an eighteen year old who earned his military promotions on the battlefield instead of behind a desk. He is aboard the luxury space liner Icarus so that the rich can have their pictures taken with him and hobnob with the low born citizen turned war hero. The paparazzi cannot get enough of the teacher's son even as he wishes all of the attention would die down. Always the soldier, he notices a man on the first class deck who does not belong. He tries to make his way across the crowd to see what he is up to. He finally catches sight of the man talking to a young woman sitting at a table. Before he can reach her, several soldiers come up and manhandle the man. Tarver tries to diffuse the situation when he hears the man asking the young woman to talk with her father about the plight of the colonists. The man is removed from the situation as Tarver takes in the young woman; red hair, blue eyes and a beautiful blue dress. 

She refers to up him as Captain and when he corrects her, Tarver is mesmerized by her dimples. They watch each other as she removes and drops a glove. He picks it up and asks if he can sit until whoever she is waiting for shows. He can but he might be waiting awhile for her perpetually late companions. Tarver knows that he should recognize her. It cannot recall her name. The two seem interested in one another and Tarver asks her if she has seen the observation decks. As she is getting ready to agree to go with him, she turns her head and sees her companions enter. Tarver excuses himself when they arrive at the table.

Lilac LaRoux is the richest girl in the universe. Her father, Roderick LaRoux, owns LaRoux Industries which built the Icarus. Her overprotective father treats her as an untouchable princess and men have learned the hard way to stay away from her. Roderick has allowed her to travel without him to New Paris to celebrate her birthday but she is accompanied by her cousin Anna and her bodyguard Swann. When Anna arrives at Lilac's table, she sees the way the two of them are looking at each other. When Tarver leaves, Anna asks Lilac if she knew who that was. Of course she does, his photo has been splashed across the tabloids for weeks. Anna reminds her that no matter how many medals he wears, he is still a teacher's son and she would hate to inform Uncle Roderick of her flirtations. Lilac is amazed that he even had the courage to speak to her at all. At least he left of his own accord and she didn't have to annihilate him in front of Anna and Swann. With so many people on the ship, she knows that the chances are slim that she will ever see him again.

Two days later, Tarver runs into Lilac and her companions again. He asks her since their evening was cut short the other night if she would like to see the observation decks. Anna catches her eye to stop him immediately. She tries to tell him no when he asks what her name is. She is shocked that he has no idea who she is and was only interested in her for her and not her father and his connections. What she has to do is only made harder by his ignorance. She turns him down harshly and cannot stand to turn and look at his eyes as she gets on the elevator. Two men already inside realize who she is and rush the walk by Tarver, they comment that they know better than to be caught alone with Lilac LaRoux. Tarver is shocked that he didn't realize who she was sooner.

Taking out his aggression on the sparring mats down in the military levels in the belly of the ship, he and the others notice that the Icarus lurches. Knowing that something isn't right, he goes up on the upper decks to see if an announcement is being made since the low born citizens will never be informed. A voice broadcasts that they will be doing routine maintenance and not to panic. Tarver realizes by her words that something is wrong but they are trying to keep people calm. He goes by the observation deck and sees that something is terribly wrong. The stars shouldn't look that way if the ship was operating correctly. He knows that the ship is unable to land without completely collapsing on itself. The next announcement is for people to head towards their evacuation pods immediately. Always the soldier, Tarver has a bag already packed for the situation and grabs his coat. He also knows exactly where he needs to go. Making his way with the frightened passengers, he bumps into Lilac and her companions on the balcony. Just his luck but he is coolly polite. Lilac is shocked and Tarver is caught unprepared for the sudden rush of people. He is pushed away from lilac as is her companions. He notices Swann battling her way back towards Lilac and realizes that she is her bodyguard. They are unable to make their way back to Lilac. Tarver hears a scream and realizes he has lost sight of Lilac. He pushes his way towards the balcony railing where the drop below is several stories down. He is about to quit looking for Lilac when he hears another scream. He rushes towards the railing in time to catch a flash of red hair and blue dress going over the railing. Without thinking, Tarver readies himself to jump and land on the floor below.

"Iliac is able to catch herself on the balcony landing two floors down. In their panic, no one notices her. She feels someone tugging on her arms. Tarver is there and pulls her to safety. Lilac wants to look for Anna and Swann but Tarver tells her that they will never find them. He wants to go to the escape pods but Lilac stops him. Having grown up around the ship, she knows that the crew escape pods are closer and leads Tarver there. She doesn't want to share a pod with him for fear or what her father will think when they are found but Tarver will not leave. He doesn't want to be anywhere near her either. They strap themselves in and Tarver initiates the launch sequence. Soon, a power surge strikes the ship and the power fails. The emergency backup comes on but the launch sequence has stalled. Knowing everything that she does about the Icarus when a girl in her position should not, she removes the control panel and searches for the correct wires to fire the pod away from the ship. Not acting at this point what Tarver thinks of her, she is able to detach the pod and is quickly knocked unconscious from the blast.

Tarver is able to secure Lilac back in a seat before gravity fails. Looking out the viewing port, Tarver sees that the ship has fallen into the gravitational pull of a planet. He doesn't see any more escape pods and knows that the Icarus is unable to survive the impact. He wonders how a rich born girl like Lilac knew what to do the ship. She comes to and as their pod is pulled towards the planet, they are silent. They crash land on the planet and. Lilac wonders when they will be picked up. Tarver doesn't have the heart to tell her the truth about the ship. He wonders about the air quality of the planet when Lilac shows him that the pod has been punctured. They both know if they are able to breathe the planet's air, someone must own it and it will be covered by colonies. They are both relieved.

The planet seems to be in the final stages of terraforming but Tarver cannot imagine why the colonists haven't arrived yet. He decides to hike to a hill to get a better vantage point and Lilac insists on coming with him. Along the way, Lilac proves herself to be somewhat capable and Tarver is surprised that she doesn't complain. When they reach the hill's crest, Tarver wishes that Lilac had stayed behind. In front of them, they can see the Icarus, falling in pieces from the sky. Tarver puts his arm around Lilac's shoulder. They then see smaller pieces of the ship beak off, almost like shooting stars. Tarver realizes with horror that they are the escape pods. No one else had Lilac to help in their escapes.

Soon the two of them realize that there is no communication link and the planet they crash landed on is uninhabited. They begin to trek through the forest and across the plains to cross the mountain range. The Icarus and hopefully rescue lie beyond. As time passes, Tarver and Lilac's icy relationship thaws. Outside the planet they currently inhabit, they would never be together.

Will Tarver and Lilac be rescued? Did anyone else from the Icarus survive? Do they wish to resume their former roles in society or have they manage a new, better existence for themselves? What will Lilac's father think about their situation? What happens when it seems that the planet they believe to be uninhabited actually is?

This Shattered World due out on December 23, 2013, the stunning second novel in the Starbound trilogy is an unforgettable story of love and forgiveness in a world torn apart by war.

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