Published by Simon & Schuster Children's UK on May 17, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
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Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best-friends-turned-worst-enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern-day 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.
Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to try to make their way to safety. But as the two travel deeper into the rugged Californian countryside, secrets and hidden feelings surface. Soon it's not simply a matter of enduring each other’s company, but taming their growing feelings for each other.
Jenn Bennett is someone who I know I can always count on for a quick and cute contemporary YA romance that is well-written. While Starry Eyes was probably my least favourite of her novels so far, it was still a really great read. For me, the setting and the plot didn’t really grab me because it’s all about camping and hiking… and I’m definitely an indoors city girl.
Starry Eyes follows a week in the life of Zorie, who is a stargazer and loves astronomy. Her father and stepmother own a massage therapy/acupuncture clinic that happens to be next door to an adult toy store, owned by the family of her ex-best friend, Lennon. Zorie and Lennon were best friends from a young age but their friendship broke apart after what they termed “The Great Experiment”. Now, they’re no longer on speaking terms but somehow find themselves on a glamping trip together. A glamping trip gone wrong, that is. After being stranded with very few options of getting home in an easy manner, they need to communicate and work together to make their ways back home (with a small detour to a stargazing event).
I thought that the story was really fun and easy to read. I could have easily binged this novel in one sitting but read it over three sittings while I was on short flights. It was humorous at times and serious when it needed to be, and I really loved the reading experience. The plot was easy to latch on to, even though it wasn’t my cup of tea, and I was still really entertained by it. I just didn’t find it to be captivating and I didn’t relate to it as much as I have some of Jenn Bennett’s other books. Having said that, it was very adventurous and there is a lot that happens within a short period of time. And I also really loved the different hand-drawn maps that were included. Overall, it was a really charming book.
There hasn’t really been a main character of Jenn Bennett’s that I haven’t liked and Zorie was definitely really likeable. She just wanted things to be right for everyone, while still being her own person and having her own fun. Lennon was also great for the most part and I loved how much he took care of Zorie during their adventures. There’s really nothing I love more than a hate-to-love romance (besides maybe a love-to-hate-to-love romance like there is here!) and Starry Eyes definitely delivered. It’s probably not in my top 5 of hate-to-love romances because there wasn’t enough tension and angst but I loved the slightly awkward but still very charming romance. I also enjoyed that the book was really sex positive from start to finish. In terms of the side characters, Zorie’s friends were definitely up there in terms of crappy YA friends and I’m glad that they didn’t get any more page time than they were already given. However, I really really really loved the adult characters in the book, including Zorie’s stepmother and Lennon’s two mothers. They had such great familial relationships and I really enjoyed that they weren’t conventional families either.
I highly enjoyed Starry Eyes and would recommend it to anyone searching for a quick (slightly summery) contemporary read. If you enjoy hiking and the outdoors, you’ll probably love this book. I, myself, much prefer the indoors but I still thought that it was a humorous and touching read. I’m super keen for Jenn Bennett’s next book because they are always a hit!
Rating: 4 out of 5