Review #29: Starworld


Sam Jones and Zoe Miller have one thing in common: they both want an escape from reality. Loner Sam flies under the radar at school and walks on eggshells at home to manage her mom’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, wondering how she can ever leave to pursue her dream of studying aerospace engineering. Popular, people-pleasing Zoe puts up walls so no one can see her true self: the girl who was abandoned as an infant, whose adoptive mother has cancer, and whose disabled brother is being sent away to live in a facility. When an unexpected encounter results in the girls’ exchanging phone numbers, they forge a connection through text messages that expands into a private universe they call Starworld. In Starworld, they find hilarious adventures, kindness and understanding, and the magic of being seen for who they really are. But when Sam’s feelings for Zoe turn into something more, will the universe they’ve built survive the inevitable explosion?

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Starworld was a book I had many expectations of and was looking forward to reading. However, when I actually sat down to do so, the book did less than wow me.

Fifty pages into the novel, I was bored out of my mind and decided to DNF it. There’s barely any flow in that section alone, and the characters seem to complain about A LOT of things in that short amount of time.

For one, our first main character Sam has this high held belief of Zoe that she is perfect in every way, shape, and form, and that no bad thing could ever happen with her involved. Obviously, when this was found out to not be true, she seemed actually surprised. Why the authors did this,  I don’t know. Either way, we shouldn’t be holding our characters up to be perfect. There’s no such thing irl, so why should perfection be real in this contemporary?

And for our second main character Zoe (the one referenced above with Sam) is actually TRYING to be perfect. On top of that, she spent more than an entire page complaining about how her boyfriend wanted to have sex with her homecoming night and that she’s not sure if she’s ready for that or not. Along with that, we gained information about her adoption through the synopsis, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when we read about it, right? Correct, but the way it was brought up made it seem like the authors through it in during last minute edits.

And throughout all of this, there are constant, annoying, role-playing text messages occurring between the two characters. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with role-playing at all. But when it goes on for half—and sometimes even above half—the chapter, it gets annoying and is completely unnecessary.

Altogether, this book fell very short of my expectations, and I was thoroughly disappointed. For that, I rate this book 1 star.

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13659072Audrey Coulthurst writes YA books that tend to involve magic, horses, and kissing the wrong people. Her debut novel, Of Fire and Stars, was published on November 22, 2016, by Balzer+Bray/HarperCollins. When she’s not dreaming up new stories, she can usually be found painting, singing, or on the back of a horse.

Audrey has a Master’s in Writing from Portland State University, is a member of SCBWI and studied with Malinda Lo as a 2013 Lambda Literary Foundation Fellow. She lives in Santa Monica, California.

downloadPaula Garner spends most of her time writing, reading, or making good things to eat. Her debut YA novel, Phantom Limbs, was published in 2016 by Candlewick Press and is a 2017 Illinois Reads selection for grades 9-12. Paula lives in the Chicago area with her family and a very bad cat. Find out more about Paula and her books at or follow her on Twitter at @paulajgarner.

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