“It’s hard to focus on the future when the past is so distracting”
Although I am always reading there are surprisingly few authors whom I follow religiously; stopping my mindless scrolling to check out their latest Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube posts. But, as you might have guessed by now, Lauren James is one of those people. When I was offered her latest book, The Loneliest Girl in the Universe, I snatched it up before you could say “YA SCI-FI”. Once it had slid into my letterbox I began reading it straight away, immediately falling for the main (and almost only) character Romy. I finished the rest of it off on one train journey to London: this is testament to the brilliance of the book since I was suffering from motion sickness but refused to give up and put the book down!
For those who don’t know The Loneliest Girl is Lauren’s third book, excluding her novellas, and her first book deviating from the marvellous The Next Together Duology. Time for a plot summary I feel:
As the Commander of the Infinity, and the lone survivor of a terrible event, Romy Silvers has to ensure a successful mission setting up human life on Earth II whilst enduring all the pressures and loneliness that comes with that. But when she finds out a second ship is on its way to her, a ship led by a boy named J, she sets out to begin a friendship with him, and maybe more. However strange emails from earth begin to arrive and Romy must remember:”sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .”
Reading the blurb as well as the book itself, it’s easy to spot Lauren’s signature quirks: space and physics made understandable to us mere humans, real filled-out and flawed characters, and an adorable slow-burning romance. Lauren even manages to skilfully bring in very modern themes such as mental health and fandom, the reader is provided with excerpts from Romy’s various fanfics based on the fictional TV show Loch and Ness (a show I wish was real!). However, keep reading and you’ll see how Lauren artfully raises the stakes. The tone is laced with an unease that really should be expected in the vast emptiness of space, but is so brilliantly unexpected.
The real standout aspect of the book for me was Romy; the character had such a vital role to play both in the book and for the book. She is a character that is thrown into a world most people would consider a kind of nightmare, but she stays strong despite it all and Lauren creates her in such a way that you cannot not sympathise for her but doesn’t make her pitiable or weak. And considering for the majority of the book there is no real action or any other characters, you never tire of her narrative even when she’s just tidying up of going for a jog.
I really don’t want to say much more about this book. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, but for the complete opposite reason. I went into it totally blind – all I knew were a few things said by Lauren on Twitter or at events, I actually only read the blurb 30 pages in – and I enjoyed it so much more because of that. So, if you’re curating a to-be-read list for the end of this be sure to add this to the top of that pile!