Bookish Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

Published: 7 September 2017 by Walker Books

Genre: Sci-fi, Young Adult

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 1/2

Goodreads | Book Depository

Synopsis from Goodreads: Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away? Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone… untitled

Review: I managed to grab a copy of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe at YALC back in July. Honestly, it was no mean feat – every time the Waterstones got new stock of the book in (and we’re talking like a hundred copies!) they’d be sold out within minutes. Anyway, back on topic, this book was a superbly unexpected wild ride! I confess I did glance over some of the Goodreads reviews of The Loneliest Girl before I read it and lots of them said something along the lines of “the less you know going into this book, the better”. I have to say I wholeheartedly agree! This is one of those books that just cannot be pigeonholed into any one label, be it YA, sci-fi etc. So keeping the above advice in mind, this review will be unusually brief and will be spoiler free 🙂 

If I get ill, there will be no one to help me. No one to fix me if I break.

The setting of The Loneliest Girl is one of the most unique selling points – we’ve got a young girl captaining a ship, completely alone, in the far reaches of space. For one thing, titles do not get much more literal than that, and secondly, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a premise like that in any YA sci-fi so major points already going in to The Loneliest Girl and it just gets better from there on out. James has taken a common setting of a spaceship and made it into something feels totally original. I loved how creative James was with the tech on board the Infinity – all of the attention to detail to explain how the spaceship could feasibly keep going made the whole book all the more realistic and immersive. I have to admit though that the light-speed transmission lags were totally lost on me…

Staring through the porthole, I watch the spiralling stars until I make myself dizzy.

The way Lauren James writes really does drive home just how alone Romy is. The casual references to things Romy has not experienced forced me to really consider just how isolated she is. It’s also told in first person and there are mundane “slice of life” details alongside the plot that you just become immersed in Romy’s life, as uneventful as it can be at points I still felt engrossed and totally invested. Films with a similar premise like Gravity and The Martian use all sorts of things like visual effects, body language and amazing scores to make the audience feel unsettled so I’m totally in awe of how James managed to put across the lonely and slightly creepy factor using just words! 

I’d like to have wild stories about my university days to tell my kids, someday. I’d like to have any anecdotes at all, actually.

I also enjoyed how James managed to weave in some really interesting ideas like the ethics around such a mission as well as mental health issues. Romy was a realistic character, struggling to cope, given the magnitude of her responsibilities and the trauma she has experienced. Heroism does not come naturally to her – she often rebels against her predicament, especially as she had no choice in it. Her naiveté is also totally realistic, there are points where she casually drops that she hasn’t been in physical contact with another human being in years, and so anything else would’ve felt unconvincing. Beyond that though, Romy is a really relatable character with her love of fictional characters and fanfic and I really found myself rooting for her throughout the book!

This voyage was never meant to be easy. It was meant to be important.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is a solid standalone (whoop!) book that you will not want to put down! It is totally unique and was a fresh take on YA romance/space/sci-fi novels. The plot has a hint of mystery and James did a great job of feeding the reader enough to keep you intrigued whilst also keeping you just enough in the dark that you feel this weird uneasiness as you read on. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to fans of all genres! The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is out tomorrow so be sure to grab a copy ASAP!

Have you read any books that surprised or blindsided you? Are you planning to read The Loneliest Girl in the Universe? Drop me a comment below 🙂

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Bookish Review: The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee

9780008179977The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

Published: August 2016 by Harper Collins

Genre: Sci-Fi, YA

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Goodreads | Buy on Amazon

This book was one of those impulse reads based on the cover. I was in a bit of a book slump over the summer (hence the tumbleweed on this blog…) so when I came across this gold, gleaming and very unsubtle cover I thought this would be the perfect easy read.

Manhattan, 2118. The Tower dominates the skylines, a thousand floor building which represents the incomprehensible wealth of those on the upper floors and the desires of those on the lower floors. New York City is almost unrecognisable with the vast leaps in technology, but often people don’t change and it doesn’t matter how much money or tech you have. Enter five people whose lives are shaken by family drama, dangerous liaisons and secrets that must remain hidden. But what happens when those secrets risk being outed, and what lengths will they go to to avoid the dreaded fall from grace?

In this world, the higher you go, the farther there is to fall…

The Thousandth Floor has been likened to two well-known YA series: Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl and Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars. Now I’ve not read either of these series (travesty, I know) but I am fans of both TV series so I thought this would be right up my street and it didn’t disappoint. The characters basically read like a Gossip Girl roll call: we have Avery Fuller, the Serena van der Woodsen high society it-girl, Eris Dodd-Radson, the Blair Waldorf best friend, Cord Anderton, the Chuck Bass old money playboy, Watt Bakradi, the Dan Humphrey geeky wannabe, Leda Cole, the Georgina Sparks, the slightly off the rails chick, and Rilyn Myers, the firmly working class Vanessa Abrams well you get the drift. The characters  range from the  super-rich like Avery Fuller who lives on the Thousandth Floor right down to Rilyn Myers who is barely scraping by and lives on the 32nd floor.

And beneath her bare feet lay the biggest structure on earth, a whole world unto itself.

The setting of The Thousandth Floor is one of the things that really set it apart from your usual sci-fi and I was a little reluctant to use that genre tag. It’s futuristic but the tech advances are frighteningly feasible and not too much of a leap for the imagination (electric-shock instant hair straightening anyone?). The Tower itself is a brilliant metaphor as it literally resembles a social pyramid with the teeming masses at the bottom where the floors house thousands of units, compared to the top where 10 mansion units will make up all the floors space. I have to say though, it did take me a while to get to grips with the architecture of the Tower itself – the sheer scale of it wasn’t immediately obvious and I would’ve liked to understand how it came about a bit more. It seems to have replicas of real NYC monuments but it doesn’t go into why the parks have been recreated or why buildings have been seemingly lifted from ground level into the Tower.

The chapters are written from five different POV with lots more secondary characters part of the story so it was a bit overwhelming at first trying to keep track of who’s who and their respective stories. But it wasn’t as much of a problem as you go along because the stories begin to intertwine quite ingeniously. As with any multiple POV storytelling, I had my favourites and not-so-favourites, and I did find myself skimming through a few of them towards the end. I have to admit this was mostly because in the last quarter of the book we are literally racing towards the climax and I just really wanted to know how it ended dammit!

He didn’t know whether she’d fallen, or been pushed, or whether – crushed by the weight of unspoken secrets – she’d decided to jump.

The blurb really hooked me as well as the first chapter and my interest in finding out who falls from the Tower held until the last page. Whilst a lot of the drama can be described as very #firstworldproblems like falls from grace and wealth, illicit romances, downward spirals etc., I didn’t go into The Thousandth Floor expecting serious and heavy stuff so it delivered on what it promises. I was interested enough in the dilemmas of each character to overlook their obvious pettiness and privilege. 

This is a good book if you’re after something a little light-hearted, with enough drama and an interesting twist to the Gossip Girl set up to keep you turning the pages. The Thousandth Floor is apparently a trilogy and although I’m keen to read about the aftermath of the first book, I don’t think it was absolutely necessary.

Have you read The Thousandth Floor? Yay or nay?

Bookish Review: A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of YouA Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Published: November 2014 by Harper Teen

Genre: Sci-fi, Romance

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♡

Goodreads  |  Buy on Amazon

Claudia Gray’s new sci-fi series has captured the imagination of many readers. This is a book I definitely judged by the cover (guilty!) and like a lot of people, I think it is undeniably gorgeous. I like that it hinted at the protagonist’s talent as well as the dimension-travelling theme of the book rather than just a generic pretty cover which can be common these days.

A quick summary: Marguerite Caine is the daughter of world-famous physicists who have managed to invent a device, the Firebird, which enables inter-dimensional travel. But knowledge like that puts the entire family into danger and soon Marguerite’s parents are betrayed by their assistant Paul. Marguerite, joined by Theo, another of her parents’ assistants, is soon jumping dimensions chasing after Paul in a bid to avenge her murdered father. However, she quickly realises people and things are not as they seem and some would kill to get their hands on the secrets of the Firebird…

The story was set up using flashbacks showing how the Firebird came about and the dynamics between the characters. Marguerite has grown up having her parent’s assistants around and often living with them in the family home. Paul and Theo have been around longer than usual and have become fixtures in the Caine home and so Paul’s betrayal stings Marguerite badly. It was inspiring to see her fight through her raw grief for her father and pursue Paul despite the dangers.

I loved the intricacy of the world building which is crucial to any fantasy or sci-fi book and Claudia Gray has done a fabulous job. Each dimension that Marguerite travelled to was really creative in its inception and (sometimes radically) different so it kept me on my toes trying to anticipate how similar or different each new dimension would be. I particularly enjoyed reading the science behind the Firebird (I know!) and it made the whole premise more believable.

[BEWARE HERE BE SPOILERS: A couple of thoughts on why the book lost a star in rating. There were points where I would’ve liked to see a bit more independence from Marguerite. She was accompanied at most points throughout the book by either Paul or Theo who were on hand to help her out of tight spots. Also the fact that both her father was alive and Theo absolved of guilt in the end felt a little too convenient to me. It would’ve been interesting to see Marguerite grow from her experience of these negative aspects of the Firebird. That said though, I did like how there were clues in the flashbacks as to what was really going on – it made me go back to chapters as I read the book to find hints and that kept it fresh and intriguing!]

To finish, one of my absolute favourite bits was the Russian dimension (not a spoiler I hasten to add! Get a closer look at that gorgeous cover because it’s on there clear as day). Yes, it was a little clichéd and there were some plot holes that went against the laws of dimension travel that Gray had outlined BUT I’m a huge historical fiction fan so I fell totally in love with this world. Gray’s description was lovely and vivid.  Also, the question of fate and whether love can transcend time and place was something I enjoyed and I’m looking forward to seeing it explored in the next books.

The next book is due out in November later this year and I’m already salivating after the sure-to-be beautiful cover! There will be three books in total in the Firebird series. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in sci-fi especially for fans of David Levithan’s Every Day and David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas.

Have you read A Thousand Pieces of You? Did the cover draw you to it? What did you think of it? Sound off in the comments below 🙂