November 24, 2013

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

These Broken Stars

written by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
(will be) published on December 10th 2013 by Disney Hyperion
Young Adult/Science-Fiction/Romance
#1 book of Starbound trilogy
384 pages
read in English (not translated yet)


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 Icarus is falling. She’s like a great beast up in the sky, and I imagine her groaning as she wallows and turns, some part of her still fighting, engines firing in an attempt to escape gravity. For a few moments she seems to hang there, eclipsing one of the planet’s moons, pale in the afternoon sky.

Titanic in space was the line that was constantly repeated everytime someone promoted These Broken Stars, and it wasn't wrong at all. Yes, there are big similarities between the movie and this book, but there's also SO MUCH MORE. I'm not one who read a lot of sci-fi, but These Broken Stars is definitely what I want to read when I read a book from the sci-fi category. I enjoyed it even more than Across the Universe by Beth Revis, which happened to take place in outer space too (but for some reasons I just cannot bring myself to read the second or third book of the series). The collaboration between Amie and Meagan was done beautifully, and this is only the first book of a trilogy! Yay!

The first thing that attracted me to These Broken Stars was, of course, the cover. I'm always drawn to cover that contains space as the background. Then to the girl who was wearing a stunning green dress, with gorgeous hair... And the boy, with the dog tag dangling from his neck. This cover describes our main characters perfectly. Lilac did really wear a green dress when the Icarus crashes, and Tarver was a soldier in this book. Also, this might sounds lame, but I really, really fancy their names. Lilac. Tarver. Lilac and Tarver. Perfect for each other ;)

There was instant attraction (no, not insta-love) that appeared when Lilac and Tarver met for the first time, but because of her glum experience corcerning a boy in the past, Lilac was quick to send Tarver off. Tarver, who initially did not recognize who Lilac was (daughter of the richest man in the galaxy, mind you), felt rejected and humiliated. When the Icarus crashes, these two people weren't exactly on a good term with each other. Lots of bantering, bickering, and push-and-pull game happened on their first few days on the strange planet, but their chemistry was undeniable. I really enjoyed every dialogs between them, and I love how easy it was to differ Lilac's voice with Tarver's.

"Would you like a rest?
She considers the question, then nods, reaching up to tuck her hair back where it belongs. "Where will I sit?"

Sit? Why, on this comfortable chaise lounge I've carried for you in my pocket, Your Highness. So glad you asked.

I have to admit, the principessa-attitude of Lilac in the first few chapters was annoying, and this girl was so stubborn, but this stubborness later resulted in a totally new version of Lilac. It was lovely to see the transformation of Lilac throughout the story. She's real, quick to learn, and quick to adapt to the situation. Along with Tarver, who's perfectly fine doing the survival thingy since he's well trained as a soldier, they helped each other to survive and stay alive in that totally strange and lonely planet where Icarus landed. And who doesn't want to have a boy like Tarver? This guy had manners, a hard-working man, loved his family, realistic, good at surviving, and handsome! Seeing Lilac and Tarver's character development was one of my favorite things about These Broken Stars. Their love was a slow-burn, but it was beautifully built, so when the 'confession' finally happened, it felt so worth it to read all those awkward, don't-really-like-each-other-but-have-to-stay-together-in-order-to-live moments in the previous pages.

“I choose her. I choose whatever world has her in it.”

So, yeah. There were a lot to These Broken Stars other than the sci-fi and romance part. The story was also about survival, and there was a slight paranormal side too, which I found strange at first. Tarver thought Lilac was being crazy, as a result of shock that struck her when the tragedy occured, because she started seeing things, hearing whispers, and all. At about three-quarter of These Broken Stars, something unbelievable happened (it left me speechless for a moment there), and up until this moment I'm still confused about that 'energy-creating' part, but oh well, it doesn't really matter because in the end, the story wrapped up exactly in the way I wanted to be!

Furthermore, I love how both authors described the setting in the book. On the Icarus, I can easily painted the image that was described through our characters, the luxuriousness of the ship, the festivity of the party... The tense feeling when the escape pod, albeit imperfectly, managed to part from the Icarus, the loneliness and helplessness feeling when Lilac and Tarver crashed in an unknown land... The uncertainty about their chance at surviving without any other people to help them, and will they ever be found and could they go back to their family? These Broken Stars is definitely a book that would make you feel a lot of emotions in different ranges.

I would totally recommend everyone to read These Broken Stars, eventhough you're not a fan of sci-fi, or YA in particular. This is a very well-written book, the dual narration works for both characters, and the story will simply left you feeling dazzled and pleased. These Broken Stars have easily made it to my 'best books I read in 2013' list. Also, there's no sequel to Lilac and Tarver's story, so you don't need to worry about what's in the future for this lovely couple! The second and third book in the Starbound trilogy will be something like.. companions, so just like Stephanie Perkins' books, it will feature other couples, and each book could be read as a stand-alone! Make sure you read it :)

November 03, 2013

Allegiant by Veronica Roth


written by Veronica Roth

published on October 22nd 2013 by Katherine-Tegen Books
Young Adult/Dystopia
329 pages
read in English (not translated yet)
other books by the author Divergent, Insurgent
One choice will define you.

What if your whole world was a lie?
What if a single revelation—like a single choice—changed everything?
What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

"Am I done yet?"

You know one word that would be most-fitting if I have to describe the series in one word? It's liferuiner.

Let's talk about my experience reading Allegiant first. I have to admit that I've forgotten most of what happened in the last book (that's to say, Insurgent didn't actually leave much impression on me), so there were a lot of catch-ups happened. I kept asking myself every once in a while What? What happened? When? How? Before I continued on the next part. And the constant flood of information didn't help! Seriously, throughout the book I was like Wait wait wait! and had to go back one or two pages so I could process the informations properly. Please understand that English isn't my native language and yes, it took me awhile to really understand all the gene thing. This is actually my main complain about he book, because all two books before talked about factions, factions, factions, factionless, and now suddenly it's all about genes. All the factions happened and created because of genes. Gene this, gene that....

The next complain was, the characterizations. Our two main characters have a very special place in my heart and I love them dearly, but duh God, Allegiant made me want to slap them. Tobias, mostly. There was this kind of love/hate feeling for him. He changed so much in Allegiant, to be someone who's weak and indecisive. It seemed as if he couldn't keep his mind on one thing, and he became so stupid about his decisions! It was very contrast to the Tobias we've got to known from Divergent and Insurgent, when he was portrayed as  strong, intuitive, tough, a Dauntless legend, even! He's somewhat untouchable. But now that I have read The Transfer and Free Four, it's hard not to sympathize with this boy. So yeah, I was annoyed a lot by his actions, but really, it was all just the insecure part of him, the broken part that was caused by the neglect of his parents which made him so lost and wanting to feel secure. This dark side slowly catched up with Tobias and eat him from the inside. All I want was to hug him tightly and kick him afterward.

"I guess I always knew there was something wrong with me, but I thought it was because of my father, or my mother, and the pain they bequeathed to me like a family heirloom, handed down from generation to generation."

While for Tris... No, no. Let's not talk about Tris for a while. Let's put a hold on this matter until the end of my review. Now let's talk about... The plot. Yeah, the plot.

Allegiant was very fast-paced. Big things instantly happened or done right after a character tought or talked about it, with no break at all. It was so full of tension, and for me, it's a good thing, up until the moment where I had to stop reading it, because I didn't want the book to end sooner. I want the experience to last, yo! Veronica Roth was consistent about the pace. Allegiant was full of BANG! BANG! BANG! moments all the way that would make you constantly feeling surprised. While it can be exhausting for the readers, I do think this one point is good to keep us interested.

Another good thing about the Divergent series, is the romance. Of course. Because unlike any other series where authors have a thing for the other boy or love triangle, Veronica Roth kept her words on not adding a second option for our Beatrice. This fact somehow made me feel secured about their relationship, because I don't have to worry about choosing a team! (Yea) This is also the part where Tris became the real heroine. It seemed like our girl can do no wrong in Allegiant. There were lots of moments when Tris & Four's relationship was tested, mostly caused by Tobias' stupid actions and annoying demeanors, but Tris, being the kickawesome girl that she was, was able to forgive him and decided to move past all that! Even for this one fatal moment when it seemed like Tobias' fault was unforgivable. Tris just kept reminding him that he's whole, worth-loving, he's strong and someone who's good enough for her... What a girl. At a certain way, I think Veronica Roth had made Tris too perfect in Allegiant. Not only she's strong, brave and tough as usual, but she's also generous, capable of forgiving AND most importantly, so selfless.

“I fell in love with him. But I don't just stay with him by default as if there's no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.

Wait. Selfless Tris. That bring us to the ending.
Oh god, the ending.


I cannot, until this day, decide on what to feel about the ending— happy (or in peace, at least) or extremely upset about it. Mostly I just want too look out for Tobias :(

Somehow I feel like I know this kind of ending would happen from the moment the author announced that the last book will be told in both POVs of Tris and Tobias because why else would we need dual point of views, right? But I was kinda hoping that my gut was to be proved wrong. I mean, how could Veronica Roth be so cruel on him?! Of all the people in his life (from an abusive father, passive mother) Tris was the only good thing about it AND THEN THE AUTHOR TOOK HER AWAY? CRUEL. I had so many emotions going on while reading the last pages of Allegiant. Shocked came first. Blank moment second because my brain, of course, denied to process the words. After that, rage toward the author for taking away one of my favorite heroines. Then this sorrow and despair I also felt alongside Tobias, especially at the part where he broke down beside Tris' lifeless body AND THE PART WHERE HE WANTED TO DRINK THE SERUM! OH GOD WHAT A JOKE. Also, the part where he had those flashback moments of Tris jumping into the net first and "I suppose a fire that burns that bright is not meant to last," UGGGGGH. Tons of tears were shed that night, and a heart was wrenched in the worst possible way. 

But to think again, and after reading Veronica's reason for pulling a very controversial move like that (if you haven't read the post, please read it), the act of sacrificing herself for his brother was, undoubtedly and absolutely, so very Tris. It's one thing that of course Tris Prior would do, don't you think so? It shows how much of a Dauntless AND Abnegation she was. Total act of bravery and selfless-ness, a reader said. I have to agree with this point. It's one thing that would make Tris one of the most unforgettable, most powerful and one of the best heroine in the history of YA dystopian worlds, because at the end, she could finally prove that she had become someone she wanted the most to be—not a Divergent, not a Dauntless, not an Abnegation, but the real Tris Prior. 

“I don't belong to Abnegation, or Dauntless, or even the Divergent. I don't belong to the Bureau or the experiment or the fringe. I belong to the people I love, and they belong to me—they, and the love and loyalty I give them, form my identity far more than any word or group ever could.” 

(Does my words somehow sounds like I was okay about the whole thing? Because, let me assure you, I was totally NOT OKAY with it, even until now. I couldn't even stand to hear or read anything, anything related to Allegiant for some days after I finished the book. I was bitter about it. I had another moment of worst-book hangover-ever and boy, it was bad. I decided to distance myself for a while before writing this review because I don't want to write a negative one filled with exclamation marks and capitalized words that would come out as harsh. But yeah. Tris' death was not okay for me. The same way it was not okay with Dumbledore's death, Finnick's death, and any other beloved fictional characters' death that happened in books—only this one was worse because Tris is our MAIN CHARACTER. Ugh.)

To sum up, reading Allegiant was a powerful experience for me. Up until the end, Veronica Roth was totally consistent about the message she wanted to tell: Be brave. The book was page-turning, filled with tension and suspense, and the romance was so good, but the ending left me completely at loss about what to feel about the whole book. As a series, does Divergent is worth to read? YES, definitely. First book was a BANG, second book happened to have this second-book syndrome where it fell as so-so, and the third, even though not perfectly, at least managed to finish the series with a mark on every readers' heart. Thank you, Veronica Roth, for introducing me to the Divergent world, where I get to know such admirable characters like Tris, Tobias, Natalie Prior, Christina (what a good friend that girl is), and for reminding us the power of being brave, selfless, clever, honest... The power to choose.

“I love you," I say.
"I love you, too." He says. "I'll see you soon.”