Series: Starbound, #2
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Release Date: December 23rd, 2014
Genres: YA, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Source: Bought it
Goodreads | Purchase
Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.
Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.
Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.
Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.
I read the first book in the series, These Broken Stars, some time ago – long enough that I don’t remember details, but I do remember parts of the plot and also that I was impressed. I will admit that I fully believe that some of the love for this book was influenced by the massive hype surrounding TBS at the time. However, I did also love the book itself: I was a fan of the writing, the mindfuckery (you can wake me up for that any time), the dreaminess and atmosphere of it all and characters I could root for. Sadly, I found that This Shattered World lacked most of these things for me.
The first problem, for me, was the setting. Where These Broken Stars told us a story about beautiful nature, shades of green and fields of gold (sorry for the earworm) and an explosion of stars in the night sky, evoking images of beauty almost beyond belief, This Shattered World is set in… a swamp. I think the irony here is that Kaufman and Spooner are very good at what they do: they can write. They have the ability to conjure up images in my mind of the setting, and that’s precisely what didn’t work for me here. Because no one in the book saw any beauty in the swamp. It’s brown, sludgy, mud. There were no descriptions of the different hues of brown, of lights eerily reflecting in the water, of the beauty of an old tree that twists around itself. There was mud, and there was water. And so, that’s what the book started feeling like to me. If you ask me to associate These Broken Stars and This Shattered World with one imagine each, the first would be stars in the night sky, and the latter would be brown, sludgy, dirty mud.
Of course, the setting is not all there is to a book. We have two main characters in the book: Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac. Now, I was definitely a fan of Miss Chase. She kicks ass. She’s not afraid to do what needs to be done. She will beat you in any kind of combat. She doesn’t dream; she’s a well-oiled machine slowly coming back to life. Jubilee Chase will have my support for a long, long time: I love her.
And then there’s Flynn. Oh, poor Flynn. I must admit I was biased from the first moment we meet him, and this is because of his name. I’m really sorry, but the name Finn/Fynn/Flinn/Flynn is extremely overused in YA, to the point that I simply can’t stand it anymore. Therefore, I’m afraid I will take an immediate dislike to anyone called Finn/Flynn/F-something. First impressions: not good, and I will fully admit that this is not the book’s fault. However, he was just… boring. I’m really sorry, but I just couldn’t feel for this guy. I admire that he wants to win a war with words, not with violence; I really do. However, he just wasn’t interesting to me.
Its partly because of this that I also couldn’t ship the ship. There are two other parts: one is that I’ve found I just don’t like it when it’s so obvious what the main ship will be. I knew they were going to end up together before I even opened the book, and it’s partly because of that that I just couldn’t really ship these two. Of course, there’s more. I really wished they would have ended up being good friends, because I could envision that happening so easily. It would have felt more natural to me that these characters should end up as being friends, especially because – if I’m fair – it’s much more logical for me to envision Jubilee as being asexual. She’s a soldier through and through: she understands loyalty and friendship, but I’d have pegged her as being aromantic. But hey, maybe this is just my imagination doing things to me, because I know a lot of people actually are invested in this ship. But, there’s more.
With a strained noise she breaks away and turns her head to stop me from picking up the kiss were we left off. (…) “God, Flynn, we can’t.” She’s panting the words. “We can’t.” I bend my head back to kiss her beneath the line of her jaw (…)
“We’re enemies. That’s what’s real.” (…) “I’m not your enemy, Jubilee Chase,” I whisper. “And I don’t think you’re mine.” I lean after her until I can capture her mouth again. (…)
“It’s too dangerous.”
“Don’t care.” And I don’t, finding bare skin at her neck (…)
There’s this one scene that turned me off the ship completely, and frankly I thought Flynn was being a bit of an asshole. So they end up very close together, they kiss, yada yada yada. Jubilee, however, recognises the danger of their current situation and implores Flynn to stop. Now, I do understand that she still actually wants to kiss him and that he probably knows that etc etc. Still, it is unacceptable to me that he ignores her requests. I don’t care whether her reasons are sound: if she asks him to stop, he should. I know there are several ways to read the scene; I know it’s supposed to be romantic. But I just can’t read it that way, and I actually think that the way the lack of consent is written off in favour of how romantic it is that he wants her is rather problematic, but that’s a topic for a discussion post another time.
Of course, it’s not all bad. Though it takes some time to get started, the plot of the book is interesting and actually builds on that of the previous book, even when we have different characters this time. I still find the whispers intruiging and I’m curious what LaRoux is really up to, what he’s planning. Throw in a plot about war vs. rebellion and the impact on both sides and I’m interested. What will people sacrifice for their rebellion? Is there a bad guy in this story? What arguments can be made for both sides? These are rather philosophical questions and I’m glad the book touches upon them.
In all, I have to admit that I’m rather disappointed in this book. I remember loving These Broken Stars, but This Shattered World just didn’t inspire those same feelings in me. It does have a solid plot and rounded characters, but I didn’t get into the story and care for the characters’ survival the way I did with These Broken Stars. I personally don’t know if I would recommend this book if you were a fan of These Broken Stars, but I know lots of people did love This Shattered World. If you think the things I mentioned above won’t bother you, give it a try!
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