Saturday, 15 November 2014

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner is the sequel to These Broken Stars, which won an Aurealis Award this year. It is about a different set of characters on a completely different planet and the connection with the first book does not become apparent until about half way through.
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 liked that the basic premise from the first book — soldier plus civilian — was gender-flipped in this one. Lee is a captain in the military and has been station on Avon for two years, an unusually long time since most soldiers only last a few months before they're infected by the Fury (go mad and try to kill people) and get sent home. Lee is smart and capable and I had no trouble believing in her training and resourcefulness.

On the other side of the swamp we have Flynn, a prominent rebel (I hesitate to say rebel leader because things are a little more complicated than that) who accidentally gets more involved in things at the military base than he originally planned. His encounter with Lee brings the two of them together but it takes a while before the two of them don't hate each other, which is refreshing (because why would you not hate a dangerous enemy?). Flynn is intimately linked to the rebels; not only do they look up to him but they are also his stand-in family, making some of his decisions harder and more fraught with conflict.

Although definitely linked by an over-arching plot (which isn't immediately obvious) This Shattered World is quite different to These Broken Stars. The main source of commonality is the military backgrounds of a character per book and, of course, the very engaging writing. Initially, I thought I might be disappointed that the character set have changed but this turned out not to be the case as the new characters Were just as compelling as the ones in These Broken Stars.

The only thing I was little bit disappointed with — actually disappointed isn't the right word. There anything I thought was a bit strange is that really a lot of the plot and especially character backgrounds would make more sense, I think, if the characters were a bit older than they currently are. That would put them outside of the YA bracket but I think it's pushing it to have eighteen(ish) year olds being quite so experienced. That said having the book as way a probably does opened up to a larger audience which is not a bad thing.

Overall I highly recommend this series. If you haven't read These Broken Stars then there's no reason that you can't read This Shattered World first. The reading experience would be better starting from the start since the over arching storyline plays out in that order, but I think the books will stand alone reasonably well. I really like with the authors are doing with this series and with their brand of YA SF in general. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what they do next, starting with book three.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: December 2014 (US) Hyperion, November 2014 (Aus) Allen & Unwin
Series: Starbound book 2 of 3(?)
Format read: eARC
Source: NetGalley courtesy of the (US) publisher
Challenges: Australian Science Fiction Reading Challenge, Australian Women Writers Challenge

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