Book Review: Starworld

Ironically, when I read this story, I was in the same position as Sam. I didn’t feel like I belonged to any group of friends and my friends had other friends. Then there’s that one friend who changes everything but not everything is all rainbows and unicorns.

This time I won’t write up my blurb/summary since the blurb given is accurate.

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?

Thank you to NetGalley who approved my request to read and review this book and to the publisher who provided me a copy. In no way does the process of how I received this book, influence my opinion.

I liked the whole Starworld created, that was different and really contributed to the text message, yet at one point I just skimmed through because there was a lot. Even though this was a proof copy, I hope they made the text messages in bold or a different font as there’s so much. I don’t think I’ve come across so much text messages in a novel unless it’s set in that format. It’s written in the first person, alternating between Sam and Zoe. The start was slow to get into things but once it did; it sucked me into the story and just waited for that moment that we all knew was coming, eventually. It came later. It took a while, and I thought they have revealed it through Starworld but the climax happened about 70% into the book. Everything else seemed to be added on. After the climax, everything dragged to a point where I was reading and thought the authors didn’t know what an ending to create so they just kept on writing. I don’t know how to feel about the ending, Sam deserved better than Zoe who’s so self-absorbed and most of the time just pity Sam.

Which, brings me to my next point. The characters. I liked Sam Jones because she was plain and realistic. She had goals and dreams yet, didn’t have anyone to share with. She gave it her all. Starworld, Zoe and her mother. Even Zoe’s brother, Jonah to please Zoe because she knew it would’ve made her happy. Yet one thing that ticked me off and that I couldn’t get was how distant she was to her father. All the memories she’d share with him were happy and suddenly when her dad left she hates him? Assumptions without asking and when we finally meet the father, he’s understanding and way different to cliched parents who’ve divorced. The epilogue was written in Zoe’s perspective yet I wished it ended in Sam since it started with her. Same literally gave Zoe everything, the best birthday gifts, reasons to smile, entertainment, Starworld to escape in and a ride to school once in a while… she deserved better. Yet her ending seemed to be a new beginning for her in London? Illinois? I’m not sure.

"After all, if he wanted to see me, maybe he should have thought about that before he put an ocean between us." - 6% into the book

Onto Zoe Miller who wasn’t all that as she’s described in the blurb and through Sam’s perspective. It’s the cliches part of the book. Perfectly, beautiful girl had problems… newsflash, everyone does. Zoe’s been through a lot, I get that but she made everything about her. At one point she wants to find her real parents which are fine but she compares literally everything! Whatever she does, she has to think who she adapted it from… her adoptive parents or biological parents. Also, spoiler alert, her real parents aren’t in the book if you’re wondering if she ever gets there. Also, she dated the hottest and most athletic guy, Hunter who was so sweet! I wish we’d seen more of him. They broke up too soon in the book and when she told Sam, it sort of implied to Sam that she’s no longer interested in Hunter but someone else. They spoke whenever they could and was there for each other. So I don’t blame Sam for kissing Zoe. Then Zoe wondered how she let her on… not a smart girl, she frustrated me so much. After the climax, she pitied Sam so much with, wait for it… ‘Oh, Sam’ almost every time like Sam was a little girl.

I won’t go into the minor characters in such detail but Sam’s mother wasn’t the best mother and was self-fish. Her OCD was no excuse. Sam worked day and night to satisfy her mother’s needs and comply with a routine. She was afraid of what might happen if her mother lost it. It’s understandable that she cares, but no person goes through this, let alone a teenager girl by herself. The mother was no help either who was oblivious to her daughter’s life. It reached a point where Sam was afraid she might become like her mother.

Onto, Jonah, Zoe’s brother. Not the best portrayal of an autistic character. There’s only bad moments and sacredness of how Jonah might react when he doesn’t get his way. Then the satisfying feeling of when he doesn’t hurt anyone. When he’s transferred to a facility, it became all about the family, not Jonah. Their emotions and when they visited him, Zoe realized things done there that they didn’t think of doing at home. Jonah seemed like an excuse for Zoe to deal with her mother having cancer and being adopted. I wish there were more real moments shared with him and the family where he’s treated normally and not where his disability is mentioned every page.

So, back to why I liked this book. If I wasn’t going through what Sam went I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much. I would’ve been more critical and observant rather than relating and becoming emotional when Sam and Zoe became close. For once, I’ve read and enjoyed emotionally a story about two friends. I haven’t read a lot of books where it’s the main plot and I’m glad I came across this one. It made me realize that not everyone in permanent. Yes, you’ll go through many friends but it’s when you find that friend that changes your world and you guys become so close and inevitable that it feels like nothing can tear you two apart. Then something happens that changes everything and you realize how different you two are even though you’ve related. You realize that it will be okay with whatever happens because it’s the memories and how that person made you feel and how they were there for you at the time. It’s okay if things don’t worry out or if you’re not close anymore and it’s fine if you pop in once in a while to checkup on each other. Yet there’s still that feeling where one cares for the other more and that’s the worst because one always ends up heartbroken.

"She's an unexpected side quest on the quacktacular odyssey that is my life." - 14% into the book

I liked the themes and the plot of this book but as always, the characters and draggy part of the story made me lower my rating. Starworld got 3 stars from me because I thoroughly enjoyed it at the time.

#bookcover #prettycovers #reviewer #reader #kindle #ebooks #themes #characters #romance #contemporary #ARC #grief #queer #LGBTQIA #youngadult #plot #relatable

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Perth WA 6000, Australia