This Shattered World, the second in the Starbound Series, is a solidly written sequel using different characters but in the same spirit as the first book. Drawing heavily upon Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (references abound, from a planet called Avon, to a nickname of Romeo, to the main character being from Verona), our star-crossed lovers are separated by ideologies rather than class.
Story: Jubilee Chase is a captain on a backwater planet, Avon, trying to keep the peace against insurgents. But there are strange going-ons, the terraforming keeps stalling, and the people are starving. When Finn Cormac walks into her bar, “Stone Face Chase” Lee is going to get more than she bargained for as she is drawn into a battle that is far greater than just rebels and military.
Those wondering about the book having different characters from the first need not fret – Lilac and Tarver do show up later, though only in a support capacity. But the anomalies encountered in the first book are expanded upon in This Shattered World as Lee and Finn discover they each have a connection to the inter-dimensional beings.
The tone and storytelling, romance and action, characters and world building remain true from the first book to the second. Lee is tough but flawed and Finn is earnest and strong. The authors cleverly work in the Romeo and Juliet signatures into a sci fi setting – so much so that only the occasional references harken back to Shakespeare.
I really appreciated the diversity in the story – from same sex relationships to a main character part Chinese and whose family want her to maintain the culture. We didn’t have a bunch of straight Caucasians running around pretending no other ethnicity or orientation existed.
The only downside for me was the prototypical boring villain and a reliance on the old “Big Misunderstanding” cliche. It’s yet another situation where if the characters simply talked instead of answering in riddles, they’d not have had as much difficulty progressing in their relationship or story.
I listened to the Audible version and admittedly was very disappointed by the narration. The voice actors are good but I felt that a planet full of Irish settlers who had proudly held on to their culture would have at least had either accents or more Celtic flavor in the narration. Instead, Finn just sounded like an American guy. As well, the chapter segues were done in a male voice with a bunch of whispering in the background – both were so distracting that I had a hard time concentrating on the metaphors being presented.
In all, great book but only OK narration.