Title: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe
Author: Lauren James
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Teen/young adult fiction, Science fiction
Book format: Paperback
Sweet Strawberries: Sweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet StrawberrySweet Strawberry

Description:  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 on a spaceship bound for a new planet.  She is the loneliest girl in the universe, until she hears that a second spaceship has launch from Earth, with a single passenger on board.  A boy called J.
Their only communication is via email, and the messages take months to transmit, yet Romy finds herself falling in love.  But what does she really know about J?  And what do the strange new messages from Earth mean?  Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone…

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  Wow! I was so gripped by this novel I read it all in one day! ‘The Loneliest Girl in the Universe’ is a science fiction teen novel but with an amazing psychological thriller twist. Set in the not too distant future, Romy Silvers is the only surviving member of the crew of the Infinity, a spaceship sent by NASA to establish human life on another planet, in another solar system. But when another ship is sent to soon join the Infinity on its mission, Romy gets some unsettling news from Earth, and the only person she can speak to is the mysterious J on the other ship.

The book begins with a page explaining the launch of the Infinity spaceship in 2048, it’s written like a newspaper article and gets you understanding the plot and setting straight away. After that the story begins, almost two decades later. Written in the first person perspective and in the present tense, it was easy to get into this story right away.

Each chapter doesn’t have a number but is instead marked by how many days it’s been since the Infinity left Earth. I have to say I enjoyed the way these chapters were marked and it becomes more and more important to the plot as the story progresses. Romy is a typical teenage girl (although born in space!) with a love of a certain tv show and writing fan fiction among other things and I found it easy to warm to her character right away. I actually found myself relating to her, her feeling of isolation and anxiety, and at times being and doing things that were a bit silly or childish. At the start of the book you get to know Romy’s character and what she goes through day to day, but things soon take a strange and dark turn.

Although this is a science fiction novel, it felt far more like a psychological thriller. At first there are little things that happen in the plot that make you question what is going on, but the further you go into the story the darker everything gets. I don’t want to reveal more of the story but it was very exciting and sinister too. As things get worse and worse for Romy and sinister nightmares haunt her in the dark I found myself feeling so creeped out while reading this. It didn’t help that I was alone in my own house while I was reading and it got dark as the evening settled in. When I stopped reading to go and eat, it left me with a feeling of being on edge, as any good psychological thriller would!

The book is a science fiction novel but the science is not complicated to understand. I’m actually amazed at some of the technology used, like how artificial gravity is made (such a simple explanation), but it’s all explained in an easy to understand way which means that even those who are not so into science fiction novels might enjoy this book.

There is an amazing twist towards the end and it’s nothing I could have ever predicted. There are a few moments when you almost gasp reading the truth of what has happened. I loved the way certain truths were revealed in small bits, always making you question what really happened and leaving you completely surprised when you finally do find out. The ending of the story is good, some reviewers have complained that the ending is a bit short but I think it’s just right. There’s a satisfying ending to the novel but it doesn’t go on and on which I think fits, given the quick pace of the novel overall.

There’s nothing really offensive in the book although there is a couple uses of the f word towards the ending which do fit the situation. The book is set out in short chapters with transcripts and emails and bits of Romy’s fan fiction also included on various pages. I really liked the format of the book on the whole too. I’ve read a review or two that didn’t like the fan fiction part of the story but I think it fits in with both Romy’s character and what she writes about, plus there is a point to it towards the end of the book.

Overall I would really recommend this book. The science fiction element is certainly good but it’s the psychological tension that really grips you and will make you want to read this book to the end!

-Review forst appeared online November 2017 – now republished here.

What do you think of this book?  Do you enjoy reading science fiction?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂