Thursday, May 28, 2015

Review: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Title: This Shattered World
Author: Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Publication date: December 23, 2014
Rating: ★★★

Summary (via Goodreads):

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.

Straight up, I expected This Shattered World to be better than it actually was. I loved the first book in the series, These Broken Stars – loved the slow build of Lilac and Tarver's relationship and how there was more than meets the eye to them both. And there's definitely a lot of that in TSW. But for some reason, it didn't resonate quite as strongly with me this time around.

At first, I was so excited to meet Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac, not just because Jubilee is a non-white protagonist(!) but also because, like Lilac and Tarver, they both had very strong personalities and interesting pasts which usually makes for good tension. However, just halfway through the book, I found myself completely tired of them both.

Jubilee turned into a highly emotional human being – not a bad thing in and of itself, but still such a departure from the stoic, "stone-faced Chase" we met at the beginning of the story. Flynn lost his clever wit and sarcasm, becoming depressed and despondent and a little bit melodramatic for a good chunk of the book. I understand that people help us change and spark different reactions and emotions and behaviors in us – but here, it felt forced. They both lost the things that made them strong and compelling. I just wish the transition had been slower and more subtle because their character changes did seem out of the blue and made their interactions feel staged.

Unfortunately I don't have a lot of great things to say about the plot in This Shattered World either. The science fiction "logic" went straight over my head, just as it did in These Broken Stars. I know that as a reader I'm supposed to give the benefit of the doubt and suspend my disbelief but even so, some of the events that occurred felt random and disconnected and didn't make sense with other established information. The plot itself was just not all that compelling to me – but that could also be because I'm generally just much more interested in relationships, and I wasn't getting a great deal of satisfaction from reading about Jubilee and Flynn. (I did, however, like seeing Tarver and Lilac together again – even if it was just for a minute and through a webcam and completely awkward and maybe just a little unnecessary. Oh well. At least we got something, right?)

That being said, I do LOVE that there was some cultural diversity in this book without ever feeling like a college diversity pamphlet. (A lot to ask, I know.) There were definitely a lot of characters to keep track of in This Shattered World, especially compared to These Broken Stars, where it was really just Tarver and Lilac. All of the "minor" characters in This Shattered World still felt significant, like their stories would matter more than they actually did in this book, so my guess is that Book Three will be written from a new character's perspective, and I have a theory as to who that new character will be...

In summary: I didn't love This Shattered World, didn't think it was as compelling as These Broken Stars, didn't think the characters were as cohesive or well-developed, but loved that there were diverse characters, and still love Amie and Meagan because they are awesome. And if my theory about Book Three is right, I'll probably read it anyway.

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