Though it tackles much more complex and intense subjects then the previous book in the Starbound Trilogy, This Shattered World felt too angsty in its romance plot and that overshadowed the narrative that could have made this book really special.
Rating: 3 Stars
This Shattered World
Author: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Release Date: December 23, 2014
Synopsis: The second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.
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.
This Shattered World, the second book in the Starbound Trilogy, by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner is set after the events of These Broken Stars and features a new set of characters that are on opposites sides of a rebellion on the planet Avon. Jubilee (Lee) Chase is a solider sent to Avon to end the colonist rebellion that has been raging for years. Flynn Cormac is part of the rebellion and wants nothing more than for his people to have lives worth living on their home, but not at a cost that will make him no better than the mega corporations that have ravaged his planet. When Lee and Flynn cross paths, their worlds collide in a way that will have repercussions felt around the universe.
I have made it no secret that I love a good, angsty romance in my books. But wow, This Shattered World really doubled down on the enemies to lovers angst for this one and not in a great way. The incredibly intriguing world building, discussion of a senseless war, and growing conspiracy all become overshadowed by the romance plot. And while I am almost never opposed to romance in my SF/F, it was just way too much angst in this one.
One point in the romance that I truly appreciated was both Lee and Flynn acknowledging that they may not feel the same about each other outside of their current life or death situation. I feel like this is something that is often overlooked in YA fiction. Two teens “fall in love” in their crazy dire situations and suddenly can’t live without each other. Y’all, you don’t even know if your new love likes to do the dishes or not, chill out. And I know this is my advanced age (and maybe my single bitter heart) talking but having realistic and healthy relationships represented is maybe a good idea in teen fiction. Lee and Flynn acknowledging that their feelings are based on weird circumstances, but that they want to take the time to explore how they really feel is just gosh darn perfection.
The setting for This Shattered World is well written for the time it is given in the plot. Avon’s terraforming is stalling for unknown reasons, which has left the planet in a state of devastation. There are floating islands of vegetation that create ever changing waterways that are nearly impossible to traverse. While reading, you get such a sense of how living in a world like this, the colonist would feel so bogged down and want to fight back. I liked the exploration of the rebellion and the senseless violence that changes people. The way things start to tie back into the growing conspiracy from These Broken Stars is incredibly interesting and sets up book 3, Their Fractured Light, to be one heck of a story.
Before I wrap this up, I need to mention 3 items that really, really bothered me in this book:
- There is a scene where a main character, who is very white, has to darken their skin for a disguise. This is 100% not okay. It is brief, but it cannot be overlooked.
- The words “I’m no one. I’m not special.” are uttered and just…this feels old. Obviously, you are special for some reason! Maybe look into that instead of whining about it. The only person who can say “I’m no one. I’m not special.” and not get an eye roll from me is Donna Noble (shout out to my Whovians!).
- I gotta be vague about this to avoid spoilers, but a male character states he “never really noticed” that Lee was a girl, in order to appease his girlfriend and keep her from getting jealous. Like…ugh. Just UGH! No, Mr. Man, you definitely have noticed that Lee is a girl, you just never had romantic feelings for her, but instead you choose to belittle Lee for the sake of not upsetting your girl. This scene was not integral to the story and it takes you out of the narrative and throws you right into the worst parts of high school drama. Also, ew for bringing in a useless moment of girl vs girl jealousy over literally nothing.
At the end of the day, I liked This Shattered World. I think it could have been so much more, but there is no changing that. I am looking forward to reading the final book in the trilogy and seeing how everything ties together.