I've archived the previous six reviews at the main Brightdreamer Books site.
I also did some light maintenance, including moving another defunct review (a title that appears to have vanished from Amazon) to the Graveyard.
Their Fractured Light
The Starbound trilogy, Book 3
Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Little, Brown Books
Fiction, YA Romance/Sci-Fi
DESCRIPTION: A year ago, the infamous Avon Broadcast broke the news that galactic megacorporation LaRoux Industries was conducting monstrous, inhumane experiments through the enslavement of hyperspace alien entities known as the "whispers", not just on the backwater planet Avon but everywhere. With them, Roderick LaRoux can turn any human into a mindless slave, making average people into cold-blooded mass murderers. Yet nobody listens - well, almost nobody...
Sophia grew up on Avon, one of the oppressed colonist natives who witness firsthand the horrors of LaRoux's meddling: in the blink of an eye, it turned her loving father into a mindless suicide bomber. Thus began a single-minded pursuit, through a series of petty cons and stolen identities, all to make the man responsible, tycoon Roderick LaRoux, pay. She might have succeeded by now had she not somehow picked up a shadow, the notorious hacker known as the Knave of Hearts, who seems to have made it a personal project to chase her out of every haven she finds.
Gideon has his own bone to pick with the LaRoux family: his brother, Simon, was a childhood playmate of Roderick's pampered daughter Lilac - only to be sent off on a suicide mission when he developed feelings for her. He developed his online persona, the Knave of Hearts, to uncover the truth behind LaRoux Industries and expose Roderick and Lilac for the heartless monsters they are. When the Avon Broadcast went out, he listened - and now, he's hunting down a rogue commander who enabled Roderick's atrocities on that world.
When Sofia and Gideon meet at a LaRoux gala, they find themselves thrown together when their covers are about to be blown... and witness a horror beyond either of their reckoning. For Roderick LaRoux is on the verge of literal galactic conquest - and only one con girl and one hacker stand in his way.
REVIEW: I didn't expect to enjoy the first book in the series, but it won me over. Likewise, the second book, while composed of some rather familiar parts (and set in a future that still felt a little too contemporary in many ways), was decent. So I came to this volume with high hopes - hopes, unfortunately, that were dashed by the end.
At first, Their Fractured Light starts off on the right note. Taking up about a year after the end of the previous volume, it doesn't spend too much time rehashing as it plunges into the story. Being a romance, of course, there are sparks from the start, and the only real question is when, not if, they recognize their mutual attraction. (Being a young adult romance, there's also an extra dollop of angst surrounding their feelings, exacerbated by both being so enmeshed in their own lies that true feelings hardly stand a chance of taking root.) There's action, there's tension, there's back-and-forth banter, there's betrayal, while over it all looms the specter of Roderick LaRoux as the untouchable supervillain. So far, so good. But then the story brings back the couples from the previous books, and Gideon and Sofia's tale gets overwhelmed. Tarver and Lilac in particular come to dominate the story, especially when Lilac's previous encounters with the whispers makes her central to the unfolding plot - a plot which may have gone beyond even Roderick's ability to control. And here is where the book really starts nose-diving, as it becomes a jumble of too many characters and too much action, in which the ostensible stars are just two more game pieces on the board. The angst ramps up to 11, and the plot goes from interesting to contrived. (I can't get into specifics without spoilers, but I'll just say that the retroactive revelation that some "choices" weren't conscious choices at all... it really robbed the story and the characters.) Then the final stretch decides to turn the entire arc into a Lesson about faith.
The whole Starbound trilogy, the galaxy-spanning struggle of six young adults against the machinations of one monstrous man, the astonishing revelation that humanity is not alone... all of it was just a framework for a lesson about faith. I honestly just stared at the pages when I realized this, completely kicked out of the story as my jaw dropped. And then it ends, in a way that feels especially contrived and (skirting spoilers) pulled its punch when it came to one of the key elements driving the entire plot. It also somehow avoided directly confronting how so much of this misery was created by one man's determination that he owned his little girl, like a doll to be played with and kept on the shelf.
Ultimately, what had been an unexpectedly intersting melding of young adult romance, science fiction, and action utterly disintegrates by the final chapters, drowned in a treacle-soaked Lesson.
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