The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, by Lauren James
Publish Date: July 3, 2018
Published by: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (2.5 out of 5 stars)
**I received an egalley of this from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.**
The daughter of two astronauts, Romy Silvers is no stranger to life in space. But she never knew how isolating the universe could be until her parents’ tragic deaths left her alone on the Infinity, a spaceship speeding away from Earth.
Romy tries to make the best of her lonely situation, but with only brief messages from her therapist on Earth to keep her company, she can’t help but feel like something is missing. It seems like a dream come true when NASA alerts her that another ship, the Eternity, will be joining the Infinity.
Romy begins exchanging messages with J, the captain of the Eternity, and their friendship breathes new life into her world. But as the Eternity gets closer, Romy learns there’s more to J’s mission than she could have imagined. And suddenly, there are worse things than being alone….
I really wanted to like this book. I thought when I read the summary that it was going to mostly be some bittersweet romance in space. But I was so wrong. I kind of glossed over that last bit at the end of the summary that was actually and BIG part of the story and I just…have mixed feelings about it.
My biggest issue is with Romy. I just could not bring myself to really empathize with her. There was something about her that just had me annoyed at times. I tried to remind myself often that she is a teenage girl, alone in space since she was eleven, so of course she wouldn’t be exactly “sane” and that her paranoia makes sense. But somehow the way things were written – it felt so childish and over-the-top. I think this mostly came about because the facts surrounding the accidents that left her alone were so slowly revealed that it became aggravating, and a lot of her fears are based around these moments in her life. I just wonder if I had more information about what happened sooner in the novel, would I have felt more sympathetic towards Romy? (Or maybe I’m just that much of a cold-hearted Slytherin. Sorry.)
I did appreciate that she was very much a teenager – becoming easily infatuated with someone, obsessing over a TV show and getting into fanfiction because of it (and I do love that her own personal writing was not actually that great because she was still learning and practicing). But it still wasn’t enough to really make me feel any connection to her.
The writing is quick-paced, but also a little overdone at times. I don’t know how to describe it exactly, but while I moved easily through the book, I also felt myself disengaged at times and not always completely caring about Romy or the plot. I think it might have just been me though. I did think that the major plot twist was really well done, and there was very little beforehand to give any big clues away about what exactly it was. All I had was a nagging feeling that something wasn’t right, because while Romy didn’t question certain things, I certainly was. But I just didn’t have enough information to put the evidence together, so by the time everything came to light, it was fresh and exciting and finally had me interested and engaged. Of course, the answers did seem a little off-the-wall and convoluted, and in retrospect everything that led up to it just seemed far too over-the-top and downright creepy in ways. (I will say, that reveal about her astronaut nightmares and the noises she thought she was hearing – man I did not see that coming. I really thought she was just super-paranoid. Again – space, alone, it’s understandable.)
I just don’t know how to feel about this book, I suppose. I guess because I thought it would be a little bit more of a romance that I’m disappointed because it was definitely something else. Obviously I read the summary wrong, or maybe the summary doesn’t exactly encompass the true emotions of the novel. I also just felt no connection with Romy whatsoever, but then again, I’m in my twenties and she is in her teens (and alone in space far far away from humanity). But usually I can still relate to these YA characters because at some point in my life I felt something akin to what they feel, but Romy was just so scared and naive all the time that I just could not make that connection.
I think this book might be for some people, but I don’t think it was for me. It was a genre that started off being a sort-of maybe romance in space with a bit of a mystery that suddenly turned into a psychological thriller that left me feeling completely unnerved. It did well using the unreliable narrator to make the plot twist more interesting and harder to discover, but I just felt like it became over-the-top in some moments and left me feeling only half-hearted about the book as a whole.