This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

thishatteredworld

The basics

Title: This Shattered World

Author: and

Series: Starbound #2

- These Broken Stars (December, 2013)
- This Shattered World (December 2014)
- Their Fractured Light (December 2015)

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Goodreads Summary:

The second installment in the epic Starbound trilogy introduces a new pair of star-crossed lovers on two sides of a bloody war.

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.

In short

Avon is a small planet in the galaxy, that’s way behind on its terraformation. Flynn, a member of the rebel group, Fianna, finds a hidden facility on the East and kidnaps a famous soldier to question her about it. He thinks the military is responsible for the slow rate of terraformation on the planet. But Jubilee, the soldier knows nothing, although she does see the facility when Flynn takes her to the island. She finds an ident chip there. Flynn takes Lee back to the Fiaana base, and tries to ransom her to the military. They refuse to make a deal. One of the rebel leaders, McBride, physically abuses Lee, but Flynn finds out about it and stops him. He decides to help Lee escape. Lee returns to the base. The Fianna decide to launch an attack against the military. Flynn sneaks into base to warn Lee, hoping that seeing the soldiers ready for an attack, would dissuade McBride. But minutes after Flynn leaves, a bomb is set off, and Flynn is injured. He is sent to the sick bay. While there, Flynn and Lee discover that the indent chip belongs to LaRoux Industries, which makes no sense, because LaRoux has no investment in the planet. The military posts the picture of Lee’s kidnapper (Flynn) all around the base, asking everyone to keep an eye out for the rebel. When Lee comes to warn Flynn, she sees he’s already gone. She decided to go after him, and help him reach his people. The next thing she knows, Flynn is waking her up from a daze, she has bloodied hands, is clutching a Gleidel in one, and there is a mass of dead bodies in front of her. Flynn is horrified at what she’s done. Lee thinks its the Fury that came over her, and asks Flynn to kill her. The remaining rebels return, and McBride is about to kill Lee, when Flynn grabs her and they escape. They return to town. Lee contacts her former captain, Tarver, who agrees to help them. Commander Towers warns Lee confesses that LaRoux hired her to allow them to continue tests on the soldiers that would help them cure the Fury – that was the purpose of the facility on the east – as well as to observe Lee, who never gets dreams – a symptom of the Fury. There’s another attack, and the Commander orders an evacuation. As Tarver leaves, he passes on some advice from his fiancée – broadcasting Avon’s story to the galaxy is the only way to keep them safe. She also reveals that the whispers can control they’re minds. And there’s no way the whispers would make Lee do something bad. It wasn’t her who killed the people. Lee & Flynn figure out that it was McBride. They decide to return to the facility to find answers. Bot hthe military and the Fianna are on their tracks. Once they reach the facility, one of the whispers possesses Flynn, and makes Lee take them to the control room. The whispers, who’ve been under LaRoux’s control for so long, want to break free and destroy all humanity. Once they leave Flynn, another lone whisper possesses him, and tells Lee that it was the ‘little ghost’ that played with her in her home planet – Verona. Its her early exposure to the whispers that has saved her from getting the Fury. Also, the whisper had been keeping her from dreaming, because it didn’t want her to feel the pain of watching her parents die again. It tells Lee to destroy the main chamber, which would destroy the whispers, and in turn free Flynn. She does just that. After, Lee and Flynn run through the battle taking place on the courtyard of the facility and reach the comms tower, from where Tarver broadcasts Avon’s story to the galaxy. They confront McBride, and Lee kills him when he threatens Sean, Flynn’s cousin. In the next sitting of the Galactic Council, LaRoux denies any connection to Avon, and the Council takes into consideration Flynn’s advocacy for Avon’s independent seat in the Council. Avon’s healing begins, but LaRoux’s perfidy is yet to be confronted and resolved.

What went down

  • Jubilee meets Flynn at a bar she goes to. He approaches her, and tries to flirt, which in itself is an anomaly, given her reputation on the camp. She suspects he’s up to something and is about to pull him in for questioning when he pulls a gun on her. She realises he’s a member of the rebel group on Avon – the Fianna.
  • Flynn takes her away from the bar. He wants to question her about the hidden facility on the Eastern side of Avon, where strange things seem to happen. Lee denies any knowledge of a facility. Flynn concludes that if the facility doesn’t belong to the military then it belongs to Terra Dynamics. Avon is generations behind on the terraforming schedule, and Flynn suspects that the facility is controlling the climate, preventing terraformation.
  • Due to Avon’s underdevelopment, the planet is unable to pass the planetary review and be declared independent. This in turn means the continued presence of the military on the planet, and no voice on the Galactic Council.
  • Flynn kidnaps and takes her to the island where he saw the facility, but it seems to have disappeared. He starts searching for a clue. Jubilee, on the other hand, is able to see the facility, and also a dark figure with a mask and visor. She starts feeling nauseous and passes out for a few seconds. When she wakes up, she’s still queasy, and there’s a hard object digging into her palm. She quickly stuffs it into her shoe, and accuses Flynn of drugging her, soon after which she passes out again.
  • Flynn takes her back to the rebel camp. He hides her away in one of the caverns with his cousin Sean’s help. He is convinced that they can use her as leverage and trade medical supplies and some prisoners in exchange for returning Lee to the military, and sends a radio message to the military camp. But Lee knows she’s not going anywhere, because the military never makes deals.
  • Martha, the one who radioed the message, tells McBride, a hot headed rebel leader, about the trodaire Flynn has stowed away. He finds Lee in her cavern, and starts hitting her. He lost his son because the military hospital refused to treat his son when he was sick.
  • Flynn discovers Martha’s betrayal, and runs to stop him. Lee is badly hurt. He moves her to a safer place and takes care of her. The military sends back a reply – they wont trade with rebels.
  • Flynn reveals his real name and identity to Lee. She realises that he is Orla Cormac’s brother. Orla was the leader of the last rebel uprising, and had been executed by the military on behalf of the Galactic Council ten years ago.
  • Since there’s nothing stopping the rebels from killing Lee now, Flynn makes up his mind to help her escape. But Lee wont allow him to betray his people for her. Once she’s at the the mouth of the main cavern, she knocks him out, takes a boat, and rows away.
  • The rebels send out a search team to find and capture Lee, but have no luck. Sean figures out that Flynn was the one who helped her escape. He is angry with him, but doesn’t plan to tell anyone about it. Flynn discovers that McBride stole the key to the ammunitions storeroom from him. He’s going to attack the soldiers.
  • Lee returns to camp. She discovers that the thing she found on the island is an outdated ident chip, which cannot be read except with the right scanner.
  • Commander Towers questions Lee about her time with the rebels. Lee lies to her, and doesn’t give out any incriminating details that could lead them to the rebels. She does tell her about the facility that Flynn suspected was in the east.
  • She goes out for a walk with her two of her comrades, Alexi & Mori. They bump into a boy. The boy refuses to tell them where they’re going, and Alexi is about to dismiss them, when Mori gets a strange look in her eyes. She shoots and kills the boy, in sight of his brother who’s looking out from a nearby window.
  • Lee grabs Mori and shines a light into her eyes. The pupils are dilated, and dont change when light shines into them. Lee realises that Mori has caught the Fury. But she never reported any dreams – the main warning sign of the onset of the Fury.
  • Flynn sneaks into Lee’s room that night, to warn her about an imminent attack led by McBride. He asks her to put the military on alert, hoping that McBride wont try to risk an attack if he sees that they’re prepared.
  • Soon after Flynn leaves, there’s an explosion. McBride didn’t bother to wait. One of the barracks are hit, and Lee takes control and starts helping out. Once she gets a minute, she goes to the injury bay, and sees Flynn there. He’s got a concussion and minor smoke inhalation. Alexi is dead.
  • Lee is livid and grief stricken, and tears into Flynn as soon as he wakes. He assures her that he had no idea McBride was going to attack today. Lee promises to help him escape as soon as he can move.
  • The dental records of the bomber show that it was Davin Quinn, a civilian. Flynn knows him, and swears that he was a peaceable man. Moreover, he has a daughter Sofia, and he would never do any thing that would put her at jeopardy.
  • Lee shows Flynn the ident chip, and they find that it has the LeRoux Industries logo on it. Lee is shocked, as LeRoux was responsible for her parents’ death.
  • The military have cleaned up the tape of Lee’s abduction from the bar, and have a clear image of Flynn. Lee goes the place where the surveillance footage is stored, and deletes all records of the video with Flynn in it.
  • But just as she’s coming out, Flynn face starts flashing on all the screens across the camp. One of the techs must’ve transferred the image before Lee wiped it.
  • Lee runs to the sick bay to warn Flynn, but he’s already escaped.
  • The exhaustion from the constant work she’s been doing for over 24 hours is catching up to Lee, but she doesn’t hesitate to go after him. She knows she has to get to a boat, find him, and get him safely to his people. As she’s stepping out, a copper taste fills her mouth and she hears whispers, just like she did on the island with the facility.
  • Flynn finds his way back to the cavern, injured. He sees an empty military launch vehicle floating a little ways from the mouth of the cavern. He proceeds with caution, knowing something is very wrong.
  • He walks into a carnage scene. Every single person he sees is dead – shot through. At the back of the room is Jubilee, holding a gun, with blood dripping from her fingers. Her eyes look empty – the pupils are dilated.
  • Flynn grabs her own gun and turns it on her. That’s when she comes to herself, and sees all the deaths she’s responsible for. She pulls Flynn’s gun closer, silently urging him to kill her.
  • Just then, the others – McBride & Sean among them – come into the cavern. McBride is about to kill Lee, but Flynn stops him. He realises that it was the Fury that made her do it, and says they need her to help them figure out what’s happening on their planet. But no one stand by him – even Sean, who’s nephew Lee killed. Flynn runs, pulling Lee with him. He pushes her into a tiny crack on the wall, and follows her into an underground water body that his sister (Orla Cormac, a rebel leader herself, who was killed) showed him in the event of a raid. They escape into the swamps from there.
  • Lee realises that the feeling that came over her as she was setting out to look for Flynn was the onset of the Fury. She recollects that it was the same feeling she had when she held the ident chip, as well as on the island. The possibility that LaRoux is responsible fort the sickness on the planet scares them both.
  • They return to the military base to look for answers. Flynn goes looking for Sofia Quinn, hoping she hasn’t yet heard of his betrayal and will be willing to help him. They agree that if Flynn wants to get a message to her, he’ll leave it with the barkeep, Molly, at the bar where they first met.
  • Lee gets in touch with her former captain, Tarver. She tells him everything that’s happened. He warns her not to get involved with LaRoux, and tells her to get out of Avon. When Lee resists, he tells her to sit tight and wait for him to get to Avon.
  • Flynn talks to Sofia. She is convinced that it was the Fury that made him set off the bomb. Obviously, its getting worse, given that it never used to touch the natives before.
  • The rebels attack the base, and there’s return fire.
  • TerraDyn sends a field expert to assess the security effort at the base, given all the recent turmoil it was under. Lee is put in charge of his detail. The expert turns out to be Tarver.
  • Commander Towers tells Lee not to tell Tarver about the facility to the east. She suspects that he’s in LaRoux’s pocket, since he’s engaged to Lilac LaRoux.
  • Lee and Tarver go to Molly’s to eat, where they find Flynn in the back room. Flynn and Lee bring Tarver up to date with all that’s happened. He assures them that neither he, nor Lilac stand by her father’s schemes, and are finding a way to stop him.
  • They get in touch with Lilac. She tells them their best bet is to figure out exactly what’s happening and go public with it. LaRoux cant do anything if the entire universe is watching. LaRoux opened a rift between this dimension and another on the planet. They trapped the sentient creatures who were living there on this side. Lilac is sure that while the ‘whispers’ may have taken her to the cavern, they definitely wouldn’t have made her kill all those people. Someone else was responsible for that.
  • Commander Towers calls Lee to her office and confesses that the facility she saw on the east belongs to LaRoux Industries. They claim that they’re searching for a way to stop the Fury. She tells her that all those who catch the Fury, if they can’t find anyone to kill, set out for the east, looking for the facility, but its never in the same place twice. It keeps moving. And Towers was also paid to keep an eye on Lee – to find out why she was the only one who never got dream; the only one the Fury never affected. A few minutes later, the commander begins to tremble and her pupils dilate. Lee is afraid the Fury’s got to her too, but then she straightens and  seems to have no knowledge of their conversation.
  • Molly’s bar is set on fire, and Molly dies. Lee sees one of the rebels – Turlough, in the commotion, and catches hold of him. She asks where McBride is, and he confesses that McBride killed him when he refused to give up Lee’s whereabouts. He killed him with a Gleidel, and that’s when they realise that McBride was responsible for the massacre at the cavern.
  • Lee returns to the base. Towers has raised the threat level and ordered evacuation of all non essential people from the planet. Tarver is supposed to go on the next shuttle out, and Lee is ordered to pilot it. Tarver gives her a note from Lilac to read later. Flynn gets into the shuttle at the last moment.
  • They reach the spaceport, and the passengers start to disembark, so Lee can return to Avon. But before she can take off, a couple of soldiers come to search the shuttle. They find Flynn and are about to set of the alarm, but Jubilee knocks them all out. They both drag the bodies and stow them out of sight.
  • They read the message – LaRoux has been using Avon as a lab, with the soldiers as subjects. The Fury must be a side effect of the experiments. Similar shipments were also made to Corinth and Verona (Jubilee is from Verona, and a rebellion occurred there too). The only way to stop it is to find proof.
  • Lee and Flynn are about to return to Avon, when news reaches Avon about Jubilee’s betrayal. Commander Towers comes on line and tells Lee to surrender, and give up Flynn. They promise to give him a fair trial. But Lee knows its not a real offer.
  • She decides to land on Avon anyway, and use the clouds to hide from the military. They head east. Once they land, Flynn tells Lee of a dugout nearby that’s completely invisible from the air.
  • As they’re about to set off, Lee sees a dim light floating towards her, and stands transfixed. Flynn recognises it as one of Avon’s wisps, and tell her to snap out of it. But Lee recognises it as the lights that were there in Verona. She called them ghosts; they could create things, and paint pictures in people’s heads. The wisp is trying to lead them towards the east.
  • They realise that the facility hadn’t been moving at all, but was being hidden by the wisps. They decide to head there. Despite the overwhelming mental compulsion to look away from the direction the facility is in, they find it.
  • They sneak in through a window and explore the facility. Its evident that several experiments are being conducted at the same time. One of the researchers tumbles upon them, but Lee knocks him out before he can raise an alarm. Once he comes to, they question him. He claims to know nothing. Just then, the alarm is raised and a voice comes over the speakers, claiming security has been compromised.
  • Whispers raise all around them, and as Lee turns around, she sees that Flynn is in the grips of the Fury. She runs to help him, but the researcher takes her Gleidel trains it on her. He says its too late for Flynn now.
  • Flynn’s eyes take on a dead look. He moves faster than he ever has before and kills the researcher.
  • The whispers who’ve taken control of Flynn have broken free of LaRoux’s control. He has been controlling them all these years. They are determined to destroy humanity. They tell Lee that is she helps them, they’ll leave Flynn unharmed, and come for the two of the last.
  • They take Lee to an underground room, and force her to open it using the LaRoux ident chip. Just as they enter, Flynn slumps down, and they are both locked in. The room is filled with extremely bright light.
  • Flynn opens his eyes, but its obvious that he’s still under the whisper’s control. But this time the whisper says its acting alone, without the knowledge of the others. It claims to have known Lee when she was small – its her ghost from Verona. It says the whispers were still learning about humans back then, and LaRoux forced them to take over people’s minds and cause the riots that killed Lee’s parents. LaRoux had promised to set them free if they did what he wanted in Verona, but by then he had learned how to control them – by torture, and has kept them as slaves ever since. Every time he tortures them, more and more break apart from the whole, and grow different, lost. It is their agony that infects the soldiers and causes the Fury.
  • The whisper says it remembers Lee, and that’s why it is different from the others. It tried to keep her safe all these years by taking away her dreams of her parents’ deaths. They also kept the whisper from feeling alone. It confesses that it was responsible for bringing Lee to the cavern – to stop the massacre.
  • The whisper tells Lee to destroy the machinery in the room, thus destroying them, and that might bring Flynn back. Also, that way they can broadcast LaRoux’s actions to the galaxy without the whipsers’ interference.
  • Lee does just that , and Flynn wakes up. They know it’s only a matter of time till LaRoux knows, given all the cameras and monitors around the facility. They decide to head to the comms tower on the compound and broadcast Avon’s story before LaRoux can make a move.
  • But first they have to get through the ongoing battle outside the compound, between the soldiers and the Fianna. Lee covers Flynn, and they reach the tower, which they start to climb. Lee is hit, but tells Flynn to keep going, while she covers him from the ground.
  • Flynn reaches the control room and broadcasts Avon’s story to the entire galaxy. Once he comes back down, the two groups are as yet undecided about whether or not to call off the battle. McBride attempts to turn the Fianna against Flynn, but Clynn challenges him to turn over his Gleidel so they can check the read out of the number of shots it fired on the night of the massacre.
  • McBride knows he’s been put on the spot. He grabs Sean and puts the gun to his head. Lee kills McBride.
  • That outs an end to everyone’s inclination to fight. They decide to talk through their problems instead.

How did it end?

During the Galactic Council, LaRoux plays the benevolent benefactor, and offers to help in Avon’s reconstruction efforts, although he claims he has no investments on the planet, and denies any and all accusations of his manipulating the planet’s terraformation. Unfortunately, not a single piece of evidence was found on the site of the facility, and none of the staff could remember anything; their ident batches had also disappeared.

The Council asks Flynn to testify for or against Avon’s viability as an independent member of the Council. Flynn gives an impressive speech, but it’ll be weeks until the Council makes a decision.

Lee takes Flynn to the place where her ashes were scattered, and he pays memorial to her.

They watch the sunrise together, and they see a star.

 

Anything else?

Gleidel: A futuristic gun, with energy blasts and lasers and stuff
Fury: A psychological disorder that makes an individual go into a killing spree; now known to have been caused by the whispers
Avon: A terraforming planet known for its bands of clouds that obscure any view of the outside galaxy/stars.
Whispers: Extraterrestrial sentient beings who inhabit another dimension. They have no individual identity, but are one single collective consciousness. LaRoux has found a way to enslave them and make them control human thoughts.

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