The Loneliest Girl in the Universe: Book Review

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe
Author: Lauren James
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: July 3, 2018
Synopsis: 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….

While there are no outright spoilers for the story, I do describe certain elements of the plot and though vague, they could be viewed as spoilery. If you want to go into this book pure, then maybe skip this review.

Rating: An absolute delight of a story that expertly builds up the tension until it crescendos into a series of plot twists that leave the reader breathless.
4 stars

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James is probably one of the biggest surprise reads of my year so far. What starts as a cute yet sad story of a lonely girl in space, slowly becomes a tense SF read that kept me guessing what was real and what was not.

Throughout the entire story is a slow sense of mystery and dread that leads down a much darker path than I was expecting. Even while I was swooning over the interstellar meet cute between Romy, our lonely girl, and J, the astronaut sent to save her, I couldn’t help but feel that something terribly wrong was going on. James leaves tiny mystery breadcrumbs through what I call the “cute” part of the story and once the reveals have happened, the whole landscape of the story changes. The first and second half have completely different feels, but they still work cohesively as one solid book.

I liked Romy as a main character. She is very well written for who she is: a girl who was born in space and has never known another human being besides her parents and then is left on her own when her parents die. I think her anxieties are handled as realistically as they can be within the confines of a 300 page YA book. Her naivites are expected in a character like her so they don’t grate on me as they would have if she had been raised in a different setting.

You do have suspend your belief with a few aspects of the story. I’ve seen some complaints on Goodreads about how unbelievable this story is and I just really want to show these people the definition of fiction. I don’t read science fiction for dry, exact physics or in the inner workings of the life support systems. I read science fiction for the wonder and awe of SPACE and all the wild adventures that you can have floating through the great nothing! James even has a note at the end of the book that specifically states: “This is a work of fiction. As such, some of the more complex aspects of space travel have been simplified for the sake of the narrative.”

One thing I really loved was the little insights about what Romy did on her regular days aboard The Infinity. Which also leads me to this…The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is not an action packed book. This was fine by me because I was hooked into the growing tension, but I know some people out there need stuff and things to be happening at all times. But the way that James deftly weaves numerous strands of mystery and growing dread together during the parts of the story when arguably nothing is happening kept me enthralled.

For me, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is a highly enjoyable, cute SF thriller. Which doesn’t sound like it’s a thing, but “cute thriller” is definitely a thing with this one. It’s a good fast read and I’d recommend it to anyone who likes YA science fiction and/or contemporaries.

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