These Broken Stars, by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.
I've got no clue where we are or how far behind we've left the pod, but as a branch hits me in the face, I'm forced to close my eyes again. The ship is still there, a painting of muddled afterimages. The sunlight's lancing almost horizontally through the trees, alternating flashes of glare and shadow that shine red through my eyelids. How long were we on that bluff?
My father's ship is in ruins. I watched her fall from the sky. How many souls fell with her? How many couldn't launch their pods?
These Broken Stars may be my favorite novel of 2013 (even though I read it in 2014), and it's an interesting mix of a disaster story with either sci-fi or dystopian elements throughout, depending on how you look at it. The story reminded me a lot of Titanic at the beginning, as they're on a "luxury spaceliner" that ends up plummeting out of space - complete with first-class areas and lower-class ("steerage") areas - and the way the women and men dress up for dinner, etcetera.
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.
The book follows the only two survivors of the Icarus crash: Lilac LaRoux, daughter of the creator of Icarus, and Tarver Merendsen, a decorated soldier who still isn't used to hobnobbing with the rich and famous. Lilac and Tarver meet each other onboard the Icarus, and as fate has it, they end up together when the ship starts to plummet out of orbit. Lilac knows a lot of mechanical things that girls of her stature aren't normally taught, and she manages to get herself and Tarver into a safety pod and off the ship before it starts to crash.
This novel was fantastic. The year is never specified, but it seems like it could be in the not-too-distant future, where corporations buy up planets and "terraform" them (make them habitable). There were 50,000 people aboard the Icarus, a spaceliner (side note: who would name their ship the Icarus?! Based on the legend, that's just asking for trouble ...), most of whom were rich like Lilac, and they all perish once the ship crashes out of hyperspace. Lilac and Tarver must then learn to cooperate, and also survive, while they hopefully find a way to send a distress call into space.
I really wanted to give this novel 5 out of 5 stars, but thinking back on it, I wanted more of an explanation for some events. The authors are great at character-building, but I'd like to know more about the world where Lilac and Tarver crash-landed. We also don't get much of a backstory for the two characters, besides their family lives and where they used to live. This novel also reminded me a lot of Across the Universe, by Beth Revis, which I didn't review but also really enjoyed reading this past year; the situations, at least at first, were similar.
4.5 stars out of 5.
*Disclosure: I received an e-galley of this book from NetGalley for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.