After a bit of a book slump, this contemporary YA about family, friendship and backpacking put a smile on my face. Read my review of Starry Eyes below!
To be published on April 3, 2018 by Simon & Schuster
Synopsis (adapted from Goodreads:) Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets. But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.What could go wrong? With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.
My review of Starry Eyes:
I’ve really enjoyed Jenn Bennett’s two prior YA contemporaries, Anatomical Shape of a Heart and Alex, Approximately. So I went into Starry Eyes with a lot of expectations.
Expectations met!! This book is my favorite of Bennett’s so far!
Zorie was a girl I could relate to. After her mother’s death, she finds comfort in keeping her life as orderly and predictable as possible. Her dad has remarried, she loves her stepmother, but she and her family have entered into a bit of a standoff with her former best friend Lennon and his moms.
When Zorie gets invited on a camping trip with some friends, she packs Benadryl (for her outbreaks of hives) and her telescope (she’s an aspiring astronomer). Unfortunately, right before she leaves she makes a dismaying discovery about her dad. And when the trip starts, she makes another dismaying discovery: her former friend Lennon is going to be on the trip too.
Starry Eyes proves that it IS possible to weave a bunch of themes and issues into a realistic fiction book without it seeming too heavy-handed. The story does a great job of dealing with family issues and friendship issues. I loved Zorie’s relationship with her wonderful stepmom. I also loved the way the book portrayed the complicated tangle of friendship that leads to Zorie and Lennon being stranded in the backcountry … together.
Lennon – let’s talk about him. At first, I was skeptical. He’s a goth guy into reptiles, a guy with a pet red bearded dragon lizard that he walks on a leash. This was … a bit off-putting to me. But I’m glad I kept an open mind, because in the end he was a really great guy. Not the guy I’d fall for, but a guy I loved watching Zorie fall for. Their romance built slowly and believably.
Then there was the outdoor adventure stuff. I’m not the most outdoorsy person, but I really loved the way the book incorporated the wilderness into the story. Basically, Zorie thought she was going on a “glamping” trip but got anything but, which was not the best for her control issues. Watching her worry about bears and flash flooding and snakes really upped the tension for me.
I always hope to find a book with memorable characters that I become completely invested in, and Starry Eyes was definitely that kind of a book. Be sure to check it out if you’re a Jenn Bennett fan, and if you haven’t yet tried her books, this is the perfect place to start. (I haven’t read her adult books, but I’m definitely checking them out!)
Are you a Jenn Bennett fan? Or a fan of lizards or camping or glamping? Tell me in comments!!