Review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

Title: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe

Author: Lauren James

Pages: 290

Published: 7th September 2017

⭐️ 5 / 5

This book was honestly the biggest surprise. It has been sat on my shelf since last July when I bought it at YA Prom (Katherine Webber’s launch party for Only Love Can Break Your Heart), but I haven’t got around to it and I’ve been putting it off for other things. I think it’s because of the sci-fi element. I have an interesting relationship with the genre. I generally enjoy it, but there is a very fine line for me between that enjoyment and content that gives me eye strain from rolling my eyes so hard at either the sheer ridiculousness or predictability of it. I am more likely to DNF a novel of this genre than any other so I think I was apprehensive to start this book. However, as I said, this book was the most pleasant surprise of this year for me. I am seriously impressed.

The novel follows 16-year-old Romy Silvers who is the only surviving person on a spaceship headed for Earth 2.0 in a bid to ensure the survival of humanity. Her only communication is with Molly, a NASA employee, via voice notes and emails. Romy spends her life immersed in the fan fiction and episodes of her favourite TV show, which she seems to use as a blueprint for the hopes and fears of her new life and responsibility of raising the next human population. Then Molly sends word that a second spacecraft has been launched and Romy’s entire life changes as she begins to email, and fall in love with, the commander of the other ship, J.

I found the premise of the novel really interesting as the thought of whether or not there is more life in the universe, whether or not humans could inhabit another planet, and the true limits and extents of space exploration are subjects we all think about and are where scientific discovery seems to be focused on. Lauren James uses this natural intrigue to drive the plot. The only world building this book allows for is the construction of the logistics of transporting humans across the galaxy and establishing our civilisation across the stars in a journey expected to take at least 50 years or so, which is intricately explained and leaves nothing in doubt. James drip feeds this to the reader which helped to keep me gripped throughout, and also helped to answer the question of how Romy became the captain of the ship and the only surviving crew member. I cannot stress enough how well the many strands of the narrative were knitted together. The world building through the ship and the impending establishment of humanity on another planet, answering the question of Romy’s isolation, the emails – sent and received months apart, Romy’s fan fiction. As the novel wraps up and all the questions are finally beginning to be answered, you realise just what a masterclass this book is.

I love Romy as a protagonist, which helps as she is naturally the only fully fleshed out character. Everyone else is simply a memory or fragments of digital communications. She is flawed and complex and trying so, so hard with the crippling position of responsibility she finds herself in. I can really relate to her as an anxious, over-thinker who uses fiction as an escape. She is really likeable and simply wants to remember what true human interaction is like after so long. I really cared about what happened to her which became really important when the book side-stepped into the realms of a thriller.

The plot twist in this book really was something else entirely…

I thought I saw what was coming. I had a suspicion. I thought I had cracked it. Nope. I ended up being so far off the mark. There is no way I could have predicted what was coming. It was epic.

I highly recommend this book as a nice quick, enjoyable read if you’re struggling to find something to stick your teeth into. I’d also recommend paying full attention to the quote on the back of the book:

“A white-knuckle ride through space, science, love and fandom. I was completely gripped from start to finish”

Sara Barnard – author of Beautiful Broken Things

Take that as your warning to stay on your guard whilst reading.

If you’ve read this book, let me know what you think! I want to know who else read this and physically jumped when hearing unexpected noises or being disturbed whilst reading. Or am I just a wimp with an over-active imagination? 😂

Blurb:

A sci-fi thriller with a killer twist from the beloved author of The Next Together series. 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. 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 is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away? 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..

FROM WATERSTONES – I AM NOT AFFILIATED WITH THIS, OR ANY OTHER, BOOKSHOP

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