Review: This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.

Starbound Series #2.
Published: December 23, 2014.
Published by: Disney-Hyperion.
Source: Borrowed from Kathy. Thanks Kathy!

Goodreads Blurb:
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.

My Review:

I really loved These Broken Stars, the first in the Starbound trilogy, which led to me going into This Shattered World with some pretty high hopes. I probably should have controlled those hopes a little more because after such a great first story, this one unfortunately ended up being a bit of a let down in a few different ways. I still enjoyed it, but it wasn't everything the first one was for me.

I can't help but compare the two books, so that will be a constant theme throughout this review, even though I know I should probably try to see this book on its own. However, since they're marketed as a series, I think it's only fair to assume that people will read this one coming off the last one, and thus it's also fair for me to review it like that. It's funny because I remember thinking that the plot of the previous book was a little slow since Tarver and Lilac spend quite a bit of time walking around, but for some reason the plot of this one also felt really slow despite the fact that I think there was more action happening. Maybe that's an indication of the Kaufman/Spooner combined writing style more than anything if it seems to be a constant, but while it worked for me in the last one, here I felt like there should have been more action and excitement. When there was, though, I was totally into it. It had the kind of space politics and rebellion action that I was excited about once those moments actually came up. I think it's also worth noting that I found the flashbacks kind of unnecessary in this one. They didn't really add enough for me to make them feel worthwhile here when I found I felt like they pulled me out of the action a bit.

On their own, I definitely liked both Jubliee and Flynn. Jubilee was the more memorable of the two to me and she is a total kickbutt, take-no-prisoners type who I absolutely loved to watch in action. Flynn I enjoyed as well, as he is an unusual hero but has a smart grasp on what he is trying to do for his people and makes a very respectable leader. I appreciated that neither of them were perfect and that they both struggled with that, but I still found it a little hard to connect to them completely. They just didn't feel as open to readers as Tarver and Lilac did. One of the things I really appreciated about both main characters, though (and with Flynn especially), was their convictions. Their beliefs and loyalties run deep and watching them balance those with things that question and counter their ideas all while trying to maintain their sense of who they truly are and what they stand for was really interesting.

However, I do have to say, again comparing this one to These Broken Stars that the dual narrative was not as good this time around. I found that while Tarver and Lilac had had different voices so that I could nearly always tell who was talking without needing their name attached, Jubilee and Flynn tended to blend together too much and I often found myself flipping back to where it identified who was narrating the chapter. I wish they had come across as more individually distinct voices.

I loved that Tarver and Lilac had a little cameo in this one; it was a lot of fun and it's so great to get to check in on the old characters and get a glimpse of what they're up to. However in this case, it only served to remind me how much I fell for their romance (I came to ship them so hard) and in contrast, how much I wasn't connecting with the idea of Lee and Flynn together. I mean, I liked them together, don't get me wrong. And I appreciated the hate-and-distrust-to-like trope and the way it was used here, as well as the way each of their feelings made both themselves and the other feel. I enjoyed watching them struggle with those feelings. But I didn't feel the same inescapable draw for them to be together. I didn't feel as much tension as I think the authors were going for. I think part of that came from the fact that they didn't banter like Tarver and Lilac did, and banter is one of the best ways to get me to fall for a couple. I just didn't see the couple here clicking, I guess, as much as the couple in the last book.

I wasn't able to connect with This Shattered World in the same way as I did the first one, whether in plot or in characters or in romance, which was a little disappointing. On its own, it's a good book with an interesting story and some great action. However, reading it after These Broken Stars and knowing what Kaufman and Spooner together are capable of, it didn't completely meet my hopes for it.

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