The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication date: 07 September 2017
This is a spoiler-free review. I purchased an early copy of this book at YALC.
I had heard some buzz surrounding The Loneliest Girl in the Universe in the lead up to YALC, which had early copies for sale. I absolutely loved the cover and liked the synopsis well enough. Science fiction is one of my favourite genres, and I was looking forward to a young adult take. I made sure to pick up a copy, and it was the first book from my YALC haul that I read.
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 . . .*
Okay, so you see that copy there? Great, throw it out. That’s part of the plot, but it doesn’t really capture how deep and hard hitting this wonderful little book is. We are told Romy’s story in the first person. We get all her thoughts, actions, and emotions firsthand. She has suffered and struggled since the death of her parents onboard the Infinity, the only home she has ever known. She feels the burden of humanity’s survival weigh upon her shoulders. She operates and maintains the ageing ship on her own. Her greatest joy is Molly, the NASA-appointed therapist who sends her messages every day. However, as Roma hurdles further and further away from a home she has never seen, the delay between Molly and herself grows. But one day, Molly has some wonderful news — another ship has been launched and will meet the Infinity in one year’s time. For the first time in years, Rome will no longer be alone.
I will forever sing the praises of this book and Lauren James. The true genius of this book is that Romy is not Katniss. She is not Princess Leia. She is a normal, ordinary girl who has been thrown into the most difficult circumstances imaginable. She is all of us — the every day girl who dreams of adventure but does not necessarily fit the role of ‘hero’. The book is even dedicated to all the girls who never felt brave enough to star in their own adventure stories. Romy is that girl. She has a favourite TV show that she obsesses over. She writes fan fiction. She thinks about boys, romance, and what the future may hold. She is the perfect example of an ordinary person who does extraordinary things.
You may have noticed that I’ve not really said much about the book — that this review is a lot of words and not a lot of substance. That’s because I really think this is one you should discover on your own. You’ll understand, trust me. Read this book immediately, then come talk to me about it. It’s one of my contenders for the best book of the year.