I waited so long to read The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James because my local library took months to get this book processed. And then I read most of it in one sitting. While it wasn’t the most thrilling story, it wasn’t what I was expecting either.
Romy Silvers has been traveling along on a spaceship for the past five years, following a tragic accident that left her astronaut parents dead. Then NASA announces a second ship will be joining her in less than a year. As she attempts communication with the captain of the new ship, Romy finally feels that things are looking up for her. But when she learns there is more to the new captain’s mission, she realizes there are worse things than being alone…
My biggest issue with The Loneliest Girl in the Universe is that it’s so sloooow. The big plot twist/conflict doesn’t actually manifest until around page 200. The first two-thirds of the book are the day-to-day life of Romy aboard The Infinity spacecraft as she attempts to communicate with Earth and The Eternity. In some ways, this book reminds me of the movie Passengers (you know, the one with Chris Pratt and the fancy spaceship), except less glamorous.
I was surprised by how engrossed I became with Romy’s life, since she doesn’t do a whole lot. Yes, every once and while she has to fix a malfunction or do a check of certain parts. But she spends a lot of her time sleeping, reading, and watching her favorite TV show, which is why the book is slow.
Once the action starts, however, it doesn’t slow down until the final pages of the book. And oh man, it was intense. I was genuinely afraid for Romy’s life, which doesn’t happen a lot when I read YA books. I didn’t know what would happen to her or how she would make it out of the situation unscathed. I think it was worth reading 200 pages of her random happenings beforehand just to get to this plot line.
Another thing that bothered me about the book is that Romy continually hints at certain events that led to her being left alone on The Infinity. Yet the book is told from her point of view as the narrator. She knows what happened! I hate when first person point of view hides information from the reader so we can have this big reveal later. If this book had been set up as a diary of sorts that Romy uses to record what she does, it would have made a little more sense for her to avoid discussing certain events until she was ready to talk about them.
That being said, this book does a good job portraying anxiety and mental illness. After the devastating events that Romy went through at such a young age, it’s no surprise she has such high anxiety. The author doesn’t shy away from showing Romy and her anxiety, and there is no magical solution by the end of the book. Instead, it shows Romy pushing past her anxiety on more than one occasion to do what she has to in order to survive. It was relieving to see Romy fight so hard to overcome the anxiety.
Overall, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe was different than I expected. I enjoyed the elements that make up the book. While slow, it does give insight into the life of someone who is removed from human interaction and makes you wonder what might happen to the future astronauts if such a journey is ever taken. Don’t expect an exciting science-fiction adventure with this one, though. It’s purely character driven and includes a lot of introspection.