Before I dive into the first post of my new feature, “Books Going Places,” I want to reminisce for a moment.
The Dawn of Young Adult Fiction for Me
In the summer of 2011, I had just moved to North Carolina, and I was unemployed. When I couldn’t write another application or cover letter, I read. Though my apartment was small and dingy, it was across the street from a library.
That summer I discovered and devoured The Hunger Games, in one week flat. Up until then, I’d encountered almost no young adult fiction. An English major in college and a student of a classical curriculum in high school, the majority of my reading experience consisted of books written before I was born, and many written much, much earlier than that. I certainly didn’t feel deprived — I love classic literature — but YA lit opened my eyes to an exciting category.
Five years later, not only have I read stacks of YA novels, I’ve even tried my hand at writing a few of my own. Though I’m not as well-read as I could be, I like to think I’ve read enough at this point to know good YA when I see it.
Enter my New YA Favorite: The Starbound Trilogy
While I’ve read a lot of great YA books, and some that have kept me up all night, the Starbound Trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner — made up of These Broken Stars, This Shattered World, and Their Fractured Light — outshines them all. It’s now my favorite YA series of the last five years.
This trilogy also perfectly represents this new feature, Books Going Places. It’s all about books that inspire adventure and make me want to go somewhere, and the Starbound books do just that.
Why I Loved It
Now that the third and final book is out, the tagline for this series is “Three worlds. Three love stories. One enemy.” It’s a fitting summary of what you’re getting: fantastic world-building, swoon-worthy romance, and brilliant conflict.
From the dazzling, but far from perfect, world of intergalactic life among the stars to the resilient heroines and heroes to the complex villains, don’t let the covers fool you: these books are not about pretty dresses! The stories are original, the characters are compelling, and the conflict is deadly. (Plus the dialogue is witty, and the writing is excellent!) In every single installment, including the novella This Night So Dark, I found myself attached to the characters as if they were friends, and pulled into the story as if I really could board a spaceliner tomorrow.
Another thing I liked? The imaginative creepiness. Just when I started to think these books were as sweet and innocent as the covers, something disturbing happens. And not just once or twice, repeatedly. These authors excel at mind games and they weave surprising, sometimes haunting, twists into their stories. And the twists just keep coming, faster and more intense, from book to book, until I hit the final reveal.
Ultimately though, the best part about these stories is how down-to-earth they are. (See what I did there?) The books may take place in another galaxy and the writing might sometimes wax poetic, but the stories are human and real. That human connection was what made them so inspiring and enjoyable to read.
Of course, they’re not for everyone, but if you like young adult, sci-fi, or good human triumph stories, you’ll probably love These Broken Stars and the rest of the Starbound trilogy as much as I did.
The “Books Going Places” Scorecard
Books: The Starbound Trilogy: These Broken Stars, This Shattered World, Their Fractured Light (Goodreads | TheseBrokenStars.com)
Authors: Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
My Rating: 4.5 / 5
Adventure Level: 4 / 5
Where I Want to Go After Reading This: In real life, space. Fictionally speaking, Avon.
Three Words I’d Choose to Describe It: Dazzling. Chilling. Original.
Why You Should Read It in a Sentence: If you love eerie space sagas grounded in real human experiences, you’ll love Kaufman and Spooner’s simultaneously magnificent yet down-to-earth style.