This novel was pitched to me as Titanic in space. It's pretty close to that, actually. The Titanic in space part doesn't last very long, and the result of the accident/iceberg is not the same, but it definitely kicks off that way. Which is another way of saying it starts with a bang. I can't image anyone not being hooked by the opening chapters of this book. There are moments throughout the narrative that happen later on where it might get boring for some readers--not me--but I highly doubt it will be until they land on the alien planet.
World-Building/Setting (4/5 dragons)- These Broken Stars excels in a lot of areas. The world-building is excellent even if the reader does not have all the answers yet. We get enough to keep us going and intrigued to read the next book in the series. The science makes sense and I can tell the research was done. It's realistic (as realistic as it can be for a Sci-Fi novel), and it's explained well, for the most part.
I say for the most part because there is something that happens toward the end that was NOT explained well enough for me. I can't exactly talk about it without revealing spoilers, but I feel there was a question that may or may not have been answered--I am unclear on this as no other readers seemed to have an issue but me. All I can say for those that have read the book is that it has to do with Lilac and how things end up the way they do.
I think the setting was brilliantly rendered and the imagery was fantastic. I could smell and feel the alien planet and walk aboard the Icarus (before and after the accident) as if I was with the characters. Everything else but the one thing I mentioned was incredibly well done.
Characters (5/5 dragons)- The characters are hands down the BEST aspect of These Broken Stars. Particularly Lilac. I started off hating her and wishing she would die, basically. She was selfish, cruel, helpless, and whiny. The WORST kind of character. By the end of the book I think I might have been in love with her. Her character arc is something to behold. It's been a long time since I have seen character development this skilled in a YA book. Not only that, but the authors, they make you believe in her. It's not just character development, it's convincing you that Lilac has changed. That she has become who she is now. It's OUTSTANDING.
Tarver is a great character too, and an awesome love interest, but his character arc is not as impressive as Lilac's. Doesn't mean he's not well written though, because he is. I think he might be my favorite male love interest of the year. What is amazing to me is that this book has basically two characters except for the beginning and end, and they have no problem carrying the story for the entire duration of the book.
Plot/Pacing (4/5 dragons)- The actual plot of These Broken Stars is an interesting one. It starts off very exciting and then once Tarver and Lilac are on the alien planet, things get a teensy bit dull for a bit. It doesn't last very long before it picks up again, it's just an extreme change of pace and it took a bit to get the hang of it before I was pulled back into the story.
There is a lot of traveling from point A to point B in this book. Which I actually like, but I know some readers don't, so I feel the need to say something. There are times when not much seems to be going on. I loved the writing though, so it was very easy for me to read and stay focused when I loved the characters and the writing I was actually reading.
Clearly the pacing is not perfect, but the plot is still excellent, especially since it seems to build to a crescendo. But you know...then the ending was a little disappointing because a couple things didn't make sense to me or were a bit unclear. I feel like Lilac and Tarver got out of their tough situation a little too easily and I needed more information there for me to be okay with it. That said, it is a VERY strong novel and one that I would definitely recommend. It's great Sci-Fi and I appreciate what the authors tried to do. This is what I was hoping Starglass would be but wasn't.
Overall (4/5 Dragons)- Up until about the last thirty pages of this novel, I would have given this book five stars. But because of the issues I had with the ending, I had to knock a star off. That said, it was still easily one of my favorite books of 2013, and definitely my favorite Science Fiction novel of 2013. These Broken Stars is so excellent that the way it ended for me made me feel like I was totally reading another book. Here's the thing though. It might make sense for you. I haven't seen another reader that had issues like I did. I will be watching the reviews for this one come in as we get closer to the release date to see if others felt the way I did. I cannot wait for the next book in the series. They are companion novels, so I am not sure if Lilac and Tarver will make an appearance or not, but if they don't, I look forward to falling in love with the new characters. With the technical ability these two writers share, I am sure the character development will be just as superb.