REVIEW: This Shattered World (Starbound #2) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

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This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman

My rating: 1.5 of 5 stars

Length: 390 pages

Release date: 23 December 2014

Amazon UK | Amazon US

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.

Despite the tags I and many other readers have misleadingly added, this is not a science fiction novel. This is a romance novel, in space. Worse yet, it’s a bad romance novel in space. See where I’m going with this? I don’t mind sci-fi/fantasy/historical fiction used as a backdrop for romance–there are a lot of great books that do exactly that–but come on, it has to be a good romance if you’re going to do that. Which This Shattered World is decidedly not.

There are 40 chapters in this book. If you had to write a book report capturing the essence of it, you would only need to bother reading half of it: the first 10 and the last 10 chapters. The 20 chapters in between are filled with a whole lot of nothing. Oh, and you can skip the acid trip of a flashback scene that’s stuffed before every chapter, too. I read each of those word vomits in full and all I’ve gathered at the end of it is that they have something to do with Jubilee Chase’s childhood, and magic. And maybe the evil corporation that are the faceless villains of the Starbound trilogy. Who knows? These have to be some of the most confusing and pointless flashback sequences I’ve read.

The sad thing about This Shattered World is that it starts out pretty interesting. The first few chapters, I was enjoying the book, ready for an adventure of a story and a compelling romance. Then it all went downhill, chapter by chapter, until I was too bored to read at any faster than a snail’s pace with no recollection of how I got there. If I haven’t made myself obvious, the middle has a serious quality issue. You rarely see a middle section with so much action and conflict that ends up so utterly dull. I didn’t think it was possible for nearly nonstop fighting be so bland, but I’ve been proven wrong.

For the sake of anyone out there who’s wondering how this is possible, I’ll attempt to dissect the main ways in which This Shattered World is boring. It’s a daunting challenge, but here’s my best shot. First, a boring plot. Oh dear God, the story is so predictable. I can’t remember that the authors even attempted a single plot twist, but if they did, it was so easily foreseen that they might as well not have bothered. There’s a senseless war where both sides are being manipulated by evil corporate overlords. The heroes find their dirty secrets and end the war. That’s the book, in two sentences. The plot is so lazy it insults the reader’s intelligence.

Then there are the characters, who are just as boring as the plot. Not only are none of the characters particularly interesting, many of them seem like they were written to be as boring as possible. The protagonists are not exempt. Jubilee is described as a hyper-competent soldier, but she sure doesn’t act like one. Flynn is a) hot and b) a pacifist softie, which basically sums up his entire character. The only real development either undergoes is that Jubilee stops hating the rebels mindlessly and both fall in love with the other.

Now, because such a large part of This Shattered World hinges on its romance, it might actually be a decent novel if the romance was, well, more romantic than a dishwashing rag. There is zero chemistry or sexual tension between Jubilee and Flynn, but I can’t really judge that too harshly. Sexual tension and romance in general are simply things that the majority (but fortunately not all) of YA novels struggle with.

Finally, there’s the world-building. Characters and plot are mind-numbingly boring? No problem, so is the world they inhabit. Look, I don’t read many sci-fi novels, but even I could recognise every idea used by Kaufman and Spooner from some other novel. Yes, there are genre conventions, but there’s literally not one original concept from cover to cover here.

Speaking of the cover, that art is truly gorgeous. It’s likely the best part of This Shattered World. From what I’ve seen, the other instalments in the trilogy have covers just as lovely, but they won’t be enough to make me sit through another book of this tedious mush.

2 thoughts on “REVIEW: This Shattered World (Starbound #2) by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

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