Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Book Review: Girl Against the Universe

Release Date: May 17, 2016
Author: Paula Stokes
Publisher: HarperTeen
Length: 400 pages
Source: eARC via Edelweiss

Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck.



Protagonist: Maguire believes she's a bad luck charm. Things seem to happen to her, leaving her practically unscathed while others get sick, seriously injured, or even die. This has led to Maguire having some serious anxiety issues, where she feels if she's around other people the Universe with somehow punish them. Most, if not all, of Maguire's character development stems from this fear. I really liked Maguire. The thing about Paula Stokes is that she never writes the most put together characters that just need a bit of tweaking here and there, she writes characters that are flawed, sometimes with deep scars, that to so many people are easy to identify with. This book is no different, Maguire's character development never felt rushed or unrealistic, it felt ver in line with who she is and where she needed to be by the end of this story.

Romance: When Maguire and Jordy first meet after one of her therapy sessions, I expected the romance to move rather quickly. A few bumps here and there but for the most part for there to be a lot of romance in this book. However the romance between these two is a much more slow burning one, which given their personalities and histories it makes sense why things don't happen too fast. The romance between the two is really sweet and while there isn't a lot of intense romantic tension there are a lot of really sweet romantic moments spread throughout this book. This is probably my favorite Paula Stokes romance yet!

World-Building: While this book is pretty much a fluffier and lighter contemporary novel, it does deal with serious topics such as anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and other mental disorders. The things Maguire went through before the story begins are stranger than fiction, but probably not unheard of. I really enjoyed the psychology aspect of this book, being a former psychology major myself, and while there are some liberties taken here and there, for the most part everything if fairly accurate. Actually next to the adorable romance I found the "Session" chapters to be the most entertaining, not that this book on a whole isn't entertaining. Then there's the sports aspect. I've learned a lot about sports reading as many YA books as I do, but I don't think I've ever learned so much about a sport all in one book. Stokes does a fantastic job of describing both the sport and it being played without making it seem boring or superfluous. While there isn't ALL that much tennis in this book the scenes where it's present are just as entertaining as the rest of the book.

Predictability: So for the most part I think I have my contemporary twist radar properly calibrated. Things seemed to flow really easily and while there were quite a few things that I hadn't guessed prior to the reveal, I think I'll just chock that up to my "Fluffy Contemporary" margin of error, also because Stokes is pretty amazing at laying down foreshadowing without leading you right to the answer. In fact the things that I easily called were the usually big picture plot points, actually I was pretty happy that I was able to call the ending to this book.

Ending: So, I'm not saying the ending's predictable, it all depends on how familiar you are with tropes and YA formulas, but even though I was able to predict it, I wouldn't have wanted a different ending to this story. What goes down in what I like to refer to as the "final climax" was totally necessary to the plot and really helped leave this standalone with as few loose ends as possible. The ending isn't totally idealistic and in all honesty, it would have been boring if it was.


So, soon after I started this I wasn't sure if I'd give it five stars, I'd read an earlier version of some of the first chapters and there were some aspects I enjoyed more to the intro. However even with all that being said, this book is amazing. It's a fun and fast paced light contemporary novel perfect for Spring/Summer reading!


1 comment:

  1. I haven't been hearing a lot about this book, but I really want to read it!! I'm so glad to hear the romance isn't fast. I hate instalove with a passion. I also LOVE reading about super flawed and complicated characters!! I can't believe I've never read anything from this author before!! Need to fix that. Great Review!