Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Published April 2018
Genre(s): YA, contemporary, romance
“‘Don’t be cautious. Be careful,’ she reminds me. Cautious people are afraid of the unknown and avoid it. Careful people plan so that they’re more confident when they face the unknown.”
Summary (from Goodreads)
Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern-day Californian 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.
What could go wrong?
With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.
And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?
“For coffee? Real coffee? Not instant?”
“We’re camping, Zorie, not living in a dystopian nightmare.”
This book was one of the free reads on Riveted back in May. I like reading books from there because I usually know little about them, and I find some good ones that way. After finishing, I realized this was actually by the same author who wrote Serious Moonlight which I read last fall. I have to admit, I really like Bennett’s writing.
Also, can we talk about the cover of this book? It’s gorgeous! And it is the perfect embodiment of the content within the book.
The story follow Zorie, whose stepmother convinces her to go on a glamping trip with Reagan, a girl Zorie used to be close to. The trip happens to be around the same time as an important astronomy event, but eventually Zorie gives in and decides to go. From there, things only seem to get worse for Zorie as she finds out that not only will there be boys coming along, but Lennon is among them.
The two best things in this book, I felt like were the setting and the characters.
We have our main girl, Zorie, who recently had a mysterious falling out with best friend and neighbor, Lennon. Zorie can’t stand to go even a minute without a plan. She doesn’t take chances. She works at her parents clinic, but she’s in love with the night sky and astrophysics. She also desperately misses Lennon.
Then there’s Lennon, the ex-best friend and neighbor. Who I also fell in love with the first moment on the page. He is described as such:
“If an anime character sprang to life with a mission to lurk in the dark corners while plotting world destruction, he would look a lot like Lennon.”
Lennon has a newfound love for nature and the outdoors. It’s very obvious from the beginning that Lennon still has some lingering feelings towards Zorie, which makes their falling out even more mysterious. Because of it, we get this overbearing awkward tension between them for the majority of the story, which was well done and had very cute moments mixed in.
Even the supporting characters had their place, and I could really feel for a couple of them, even when they were perceived as the “bad guys”. Every character, from Zorie and Lennon, to the parents, to the supporting character could all be envsioned as real people. Each on had their own voice, their own problems, their own past, and we’re able to see all of it.
Then there was the setting. It was so real! The woods, the campfires, the cave, the waterfalls. All of it was described so well, and it was easy to pretend I was alongside them on the trip. Not to mention the scary story that Lennon told at one point.
The entire story, Zorie is facing problems. She’s on this trip with the boy she’s supposed to hate because he broke her heart, but she finds her resolve slipping. Especially when she ends up stranded alone with him. Not to mention he also knows the truth about what’s happening at her home with her parents, which is something Zorie doesn’t even want to face. We’re left guessing the entire trip what exactly happened that night at homecoming, as well as what’s going to happen to Zorie’s family.
The friends-to-enemies-to-lovers theme works really well here, and there are also really good family dynamics at play, with one being a really positive atmosphere, and one being messy and far from perfect.
One thing I really enjoyed is the lack of closure that comes at the end of this book with everything. Mostly everything was resolved, but not in that perfect sense of knowing where the characters were going next. Because that is realistic, and it’s something we don’t see a lot of in the “fluffy YA contemporaries”.
You may be wondering why this book is only a 3-star when I obviously enjoyed so much about it. And that’s 100% on me and my extreme dislike of romance. And I know most people would be fine reading through it, but it’s hard for me. Around the 80% mark of the book, I found myself skimming a lot, and I also became annoyed by Zorie thinking about literally nothing but Lennon. Everything just kinda turned into “what about Lennon?” and I wasn’t really having it… (Although, I did also love Lennon, but girl, come on. I think you have other things to worry about.)
Overall, if you’re looking for a cute, fast-paced read about camping and friends-to-enemies-to-lovers or second chance romance, then this might be a good book to pick up!