Author: Lauren James
Rating: 5 Stars
Dates read: 27 Jan 18 – 28 Jan 18
Publication date: 07 Sep 17
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre(s): Young Adult; Science Fiction
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. 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 is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love.
Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away? 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 have done my absolute best to avoid any glaring spoilers.
I spend the latter half of last year turning to my friend Emma in a book shop, pointing at The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, and saying ‘That cover is super pretty, do you own that book?’ Every time, she said no, agreed that it was stunning, and we both moved on. I never really read the back, and the book passed me by. Then the lovely Jenn got me as her TBTB Secret Santa. She included a lovely card in my present box with a card on it (pictured). It explained that, although this book wasn’t on my TBR or radar, it was her favourite book of 2017 and that she wanted to share it with me.
So, I went into reading this book with a lot of pressure on my shoulders. I knew how much she liked it, and after looking online, I knew how much others liked it too. I decided to read it as part of the 24in48 readathon thinking it would be nice and easy to read alongside other more challenging books. I ended up reading it in one go, well, in the space of a few hours, smashing it out as quick as I could because quite simply, I could not put this book down and I needed to get to the end as soon as possible.
The book centres around Spaceship Infinity, on which Romy Silvers lives on board. Alone. She is the daughter of two astronauts that were sent into deep space to explore, and potentially re-populate Earth II, a planet believed to be able to sustain life. Board on the space ship, she’s never seen Earth and following incidents eluded to early on, she is completely alone on her way to the planet. A prolific Fan Fiction writer, she grows an attachment to an Earth show, ‘Loch & Ness’, and sends pieces of her writing back to Earth. Her only communication comes in the form of daily updates from NASA and her friend Molly, but they take over two years to arrive due to the distance between Earth and spaceship.
Until we’re introduced to J. Commander of a sister Spaceship Eternity that has been sent to catch up with Infinity and assist it’s passage to Earth II. The unusual relationship between the commanders is shared solely through communications between the two vessels. Due to the distance between the two ships, it’s takes a long time for messages to arrive, so the conversations are largely two sets of one way messages. The longer the books goes on, and the more the story progresses, the closer the Eternity becomes to the Infinity, thus shortening the time frame between communications until the point where voice, and eventually video calls can be indulged in.
And this is how the story unfolds. We see the entire narrative from Romy’s point of view, and we are very much operating on her timeline. The communications are all dated, so we read them as she does, we understand how she processes them, and how she responds. Everything we learn about J, about life on Earth, and about Infinity’s prospects are learnt through these frequent messages, through her fan fiction, and through the communications from Earth/NASA.
I had certain ideas of where I thought this story would go. I had ideas about how I thought relationships would develop. I had a very clear vision of how it was going to end. I was OK with it, no, I was happy with it. The story-telling had been unique, the locations and environments refreshing, and even with the ‘inevitable’ ending, it was a good book.
BOOM. Ignore everything you could ever think. Ignore everything you were expecting. Ignore everything you had ever hypothesised. Why? Because every single one of those thoughts are so wrong that they are funny. I have a really bad habit of working out the ending’s to books, but even I couldn’t envisage the unexpected ending. It took the book from being a good 4 Star read to a memorable 5 star one.
I won’t forget this in a hurry. It’s been a long time since I read a book, a recommendation, with little prior knowledge of what it was about that could make such an impression on me. Y’all should read it. Like, yesterday!
Thank you! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
You’re a kind and thoughtful person, and I can’t thank you enough. You’re TBTB Santa box is the gift that is still giving months on and I am going to be forever grateful.
And as for this book, well, I can see why it was a favourite. I am going to have to read some truly mind-blowing reads between now and December for this to be absent from my books of the year list!
You’re the best,