Title //Starry Eyes
Author // Jenn Bennett
Publication Date // June 2018
Publisher //Simon & Schuster
Readership // Young Adult
Rating // ✭✭✭✭☆
I received a copy ofStarry Eyes from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best-friends-turned-worst-enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern-day 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.
Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to try to make their way to safety. But as the two travel deeper into the rugged Californian countryside, secrets and hidden feelings surface. Soon it’s not simply a matter of enduring each other’s company, but taming their growing feelings for each other.
Starry Eyes is a coming-of-age story for two young teenagers set amidst the Californian countryside as the two former best friends try to reconcile who they once were with who they are now.
I’m pretty picky when it comes to young adult contemporary books, but Starry Eyes had me hooked from the third paragraph, when main character Zorie waxes lyrical on the benefits of a well-planned, washi-taped lifestyle. Had I known about washi-tape in my teen years that would totally have been me. The instant connection to Zorie continued with astonishing relevancy to my own life when she outlined her ambition to become an astrophysicist (also my – sadly, unattained – childhood dream). Where was this book when I was growing up, I ask?
It also doesn’t hurt that it has a trope that I’m quite fond of – enemies to lovers – and it’s written at a slow-burn pace which draws out the drama and intrigue of how and why Zorie and Lennon came to be at odds with one another. Their relationship is complicated, caught between raging hormones and family issues that are not always readily apparent to the other party. And while Zorie and Lennon are front and centre for the entirety of the novel, there was a lot of information given about their families (and the complications that come with families) that grounded the story in reality. The only thing I wished had been fleshed out further was the mutual friendships they had with the group of fellow students they went camping with, but at the end of the day, the friends were more a plot device than an integral part of the narrative as a whole.
Jenn Bennett has a wonderfully engaging writing style that draws the reader in and keeps you turning pages long into the night, and – even though I can think of nothing worse than camping out – she sets the scene so well that you can picture yourself right there alongside the main characters. There are heaps of cultural references, from books to movies to television, that align the narrative with today’s teens (and adults) and it was honestly a pleasure to read.
I’m definitely going to be picking up Jenn’s other books to catch up on what I’ve missed!
I gave Starry Eyes 4.5 out of 5 stars.
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Jenn Bennett is an award-winning author of young adult contemporary romance books, including: Alex, Approximately; Night Owls; and Starry Eyes. She also writes romance and urban fantasy for adults. Her books have garnered multiple starred reviews, won the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® Award, and been included on Publishers Weekly Best Books annual list. She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two dogs.