Review of The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James

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 . . .
 

I went into this book completely blind, I didn’t even read the blurb. It was entirely on the basis of all the great things I had heard about it, I wasn’t disappointed. I didn’t know what to expect at all and I found myself wonderfully surprised and utterly enthralled in a “carrying my kindle around the house with me at all times” kind of way. It’s told in a first person diary style from the point of view of 16 year old Romy, left alone to maintain and continue the mission of the spaceship Infinity in the wake of a terrible tragedy. Romy is a wonderfully naive character, I found her completely endearing. She is a young girl without an agenda, she is open and honest and understandably desperate for company. Having grown up on a diet of romance books and the light hearted romantic procedural drama’s contained within the Infinity’s database, her romantic notions and ideals are obviously unrealistic, so it’s no wonder she finds herself so captivated by the charasmatic J.

The immediate thing that struck me about this book was the sympathetic portrayal of anxiety and mental health. It would have been easy to have Romy as skipping around watering plants and watching old movies, but she is portrayed as a girl just about keeping her head above the proverbial water, it will certainly strike a chord with those who suffer from anxiety and I often found myself nodding along in understanding to her actions.

The Infinity is a great back drop to the story, it will bring forward images from cinematic space craft in your mind and there are plenty in my mind to choose from! It feels like a homely vessel, with little in the way of in your face AI, it often felt like Romy was just wandering through her apartment rather than an intergalactic craft seeking out a new world.

What I loved most about this book was how it seamlessly flipped genres, it was a small seed which started to grow and form and had me second guessing (I was still wrong,) and before I knew it I was reading a thriller with no let up on pace. Short, sharp chapters adding to the tension every step of the way. The story was one that I found very easy to read right from the start so I felt like I could barely keep up with myself towards the closing stages and everything had to be dropped until I could get it finished.

I have tried to be as vague as I can with this review whilst impressing how much I loved the story because saying even the smallest thing will be a spoiler for this brilliantly crafted tale. I think if you can go into it knowing little more than the blurb it will be all the more satisfying for it. It was the first book by Lauren James that I have read and on the strength of this writing I’m certainly going to be looking at more by this author – the icing on the cake for me though is that this is a standalone, I’ve missed reading a story from start to finish in one go and this has certainly made me thirst for more standalone reads.

This can only be a 5 star read for me!

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