Book review: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

I saw this book on early release at YALC this year and just couldn’t stop myself from buying it. If I’m honest, I only partly listened to the hype. I prefer to know as little as possible about a book before I read it (to the point where I even try to avoid reading the blurb on the back) so that it isn’t spoilt by other people’s opinions or by a badly written “mysterious” blurb. The Loneliest Girl in the Universe was not at all what I had been expecting.

Romy is alone on a spaceship bound for a new planet with the purpose of setting up life on a new planet. She lost her parents along with all the other crew members in an accident and now only has a daily email from a counsellor on Earth and re-runs of her favourite soap to keep her going. When Romy hears that another ship is on its way to join her, she begins exchanging emails with the captain, J. Desperate for some human interaction, their meeting can’t come soon enough for Romy. That is, until she discovers that everything is not quite as it seems.

Quite clearly then, this is a novel full of suspense but I hadn’t realised that. I mean, the cover and the introduction make it pretty clear that we’re headed into space but I wasn’t expecting to be completely hooked and desperate to know how it was all going to end for Romy and J.

I was surprised by how much I wanted to read on, especially after the disappointment of the introductory “newspaper story” and discovering that it was going to read like a diary. I’m not a fan of either of these styles; the newspaper story feels like a way to fit in a load of background that I would have liked to have been littered throughout instead of just plonked at the beginning, and the only good thing about a diary format is that the chapters tend to be pretty short. I find it tedious to hear so much of one person’s inner dialogue. And this is all inner dialogue. As the loneliest girl in the universe, who – unsurprisingly!! – is alone, there is no other voice to break up Romy’s thoughts and if it hadn’t been for the suspense, I’m not sure I could have finished the book.

For me, even the suspense storyline had a negative side. I love the way that Lauren James leads you to believe that the danger is in one direction, and then, at the last minute, reveals that to be a red herring and the danger is more immediate than you thought. She totally had me fooled. The problem, though, is that I didn’t really like the storyline behind the real danger and would have much preferred the alternative that was snatched away. That storyline would have made for an epic series, the one I got fell a bit flat for me and didn’t feel believable.

Finishing the book, I was just left with a sense of disappointment. I felt like I’d given it more than a fair chance and it had been so promising because it had me completely hooked for a full day but it just didn’t live up to all my hopes or all the hype surrounding it. It wasn’t for me I’m afraid.

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