Book Talk: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Talk: Starry Eyes by Jenn BennettStarry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Published by Simon Pulse on April 3, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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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?

Until her next book releases, I’m officially caught up on Jenn Bennett, both the adult paranormal series and the YA contemporaries. She truly excels at YA, and Starry Eyes is no exception, though admittedly I prefer The Anatomical Shape of a Heart and Alex, Approximately. Those books are books of my heart with incredible ships. Plot-wise, I think Starry Eyes is a much stronger novel, and it doesn’t veer into the same level of melodrama. However, I also didn’t feel the same emotional connection to this one. Your mileage totally may vary on that, and I did end up really enjoying this one.

Fair warning, it did take me about half the book to really feel invested. Starry Eyes consists of multiple sections, broken up with adorable illustrated maps. The conclusion of section two is where I got hooked, and, shocking absolutely no one, that also just happens to be when the shippery really starts. Probably no connection there at all. Nope. Just a coincidence. If you like the start but you’re looking for that extra oomph, hold out, because things get kicked up a notch in part three.

Something I consider a hallmark of Bennett’s YA is her focus on heroines with less common goals (i.e. not photography or acting or something like that), and Zorie’s no exception, with her dreams of becoming an astronomer. Lennon gets in on the action to with his love of reptiles. Her characters always feel very unique, though I do admit to feeling a bit more distanced from these two. I do love though that her characters are always passionate nerds who get nerdy af about what they love, even if other people don’t get it.

The camping aspect, which tbh did not thrill me at all, turned out to be really exciting albeit stressful af. Like, I always have said that I will never EVER go camping. I don’t even know if I would consider glamping at the fancy place Zorie and her “friends” go to first, but I would never ever do the hiking and camping thing. No. Fucking. Way. And, while fun to read about, Starry Eyes firmly entrenched me in this opinion. It’s good that Zorie can unwind and find peace in it, but I was so stressed for their entire journey. In a good way, because that’s when I got to where I couldn’t put the book down, but omg they were so chill about things that would have made me have a fucking meltdown. There’s this storm at one point and Zorie loses her glasses, and she’s all nbd, and I would maybe literally have died because I’m pretty damn blind; Zorie doesn’t think about it again, and I don’t stop thinking about it.

From an emotional perspective, I think what held me back was that it takes so long for the secret of what happened between Zorie and Lennon to be revealed. I mean, it’s pretty much exactly what you might expect, in broad strokes if not in detail, but the lack of information proved frustrating. You know from the beginning that Zorie and Lennon who were besties making the leap from friends to lovers but just when they were about to come out as a couple, he went radio silent and they stopped being friends. Given the stated strength of their friendship, I did find the quickness with which both of them gave up on not just the romantic aspect but the friendship a bit unbelievable.

That said, Zorie and Lennon do have a great back and forth. It’s not the usual banter, a bit more off-the-wall and kooky, which does fit them. And, in that brief span of time they spend hiking together, it’s clear that they do balance each other really well. They have a fair amount of opinions and interests in common, but Lennon helps stabilize Zorie and calm her anxiety, where she helps him to open up. They’re not a ship of ships for me, like Bennett’s prior couples, but I do ship it for sure, and, as usual, their physical chemistry is great.

Aside from those two, there are a bunch of people in this book that I wanted to rip to shreds. The “friends” Zorie goes glamping with are foolish and dishonest, and I have no patience for it. Even worse is her father, Diamond Dan, who needs to have his dick cut off. I do like the complexities of these relationships. View Spoiler »They’re the right kind of open-ended even though I would have preferred to see these people suffer.[/viewspoiler] On the other hand, though, I absolutely adore Zorie’s mom (she adopted Zorie after bio-mom died); their relationship is so close and so strong, and as per usual found families make me cry tears of joy. Lennon’s moms are also adorable; I just wish they’d been in more of the book.

Jenn Bennett’s YA novels are so good, and I’m thrilled that she seems to be setting up shop in YA contemporary.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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