Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Starry Eyes by Jenn BennettStarry Eyes
Jenn Bennett
SimonPulse
Published on April 3, 2018

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

About Starry Eyes
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?

My Review
Not gonna lie, I got pretty excited when I started reading this book. I loved Zorie’s hyper-organized planner personality right from the beginning. On top of that, her interest in astronomy had me hooked. I was less sure about Lennon, who seemed maybe too perfect hipster or something.

As the story went on, though, Lennon grew on me. Turns out, he’s not just a sulking, horror-obsessed pretty face. I liked that his expertise both as a hiker and as an employee at a reptile-focused pet store advanced the story.

If I’m being totally honest, though, Zorie kind of disappointed me. I wanted more from her astronomy interest. More stargazing. More about why the stars drew her. I also found myself wishing her knowledge was necessary on the journey out of the woods, too. Instead, I felt like she kind of just followed Lennon around being impressed by his prowess (which, don’t get me wrong, was impressive.).

The parts of the story about hiking were great. I’m not much of an outdoors person myself, but this book made me want to go on a backcountry hike. It seemed like it took some realistic risks into account and showed both the wonder and beauty of nature and its power and ruthlessness.

I struggled with the ending of the story. I don’t want to give too much away, but there’s a family crisis, and I couldn’t connect with Zorie’s reaction. I felt like she mostly whined about being separated from Lennon. It’s not unrealistic for a new love to be so all-consuming, I guess I felt like it was kind of shallow. I wanted her to be deeper, and have a broader emotional range at that point, or at least to admit that she was trying to avoid her problems by drowning herself in Lennon.

One thing I did find interesting was that she simultaneously argues with her parents that her love life (her relationship with Lennon) is not their business, but that problems in her parents’ relationship are her business. The story doesn’t address this directly, but I thought it was an interesting point—it’s easy to tell people to butt out of your own life. When that shoe is on the other foot, though, it pinches. (As a parent, I’m not really on the train that says kids deserve full freedom and privacy. While I’m still legally responsible for my kids, I get to know what’s going on. But that’s a whole different soap box.)

The banter between Zorie and Lennon was great. I also loved the way each character was so individual—even down to the minor ones who barely appeared in the story. It made the cast seem super realistic and definitely upped the tension surrounding some of those strong personalities.

Starry Eyes on AmazonRecommended for Ages 16 up.

Cultural Elements
Lennon has two (lesbian) moms. Zorie’s mom (step-mom) is Korean. She also has chronic hives.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used fairly frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl. References to making out. References to sex. One brief reference to masturbation. One scene shows characters in preparation to have sex and leads into the act. Zorie makes some lusty comments throughout the book. Most of them are vague, but show her interest in sex and attraction to boys.

Lennon’s moms run a shop that sells sex toys. A couple scenes take place inside the shop among the items there.

Spiritual Content
Lennon makes a couple of jokes about Bible verses (misquoting them for a punch line) and mentions going to church with his mom. Zorie describes the church as more a gathering place for people of many different belief systems. Later, she makes a brief reference to a waterfall being like a god.

Violent Content
Reference to a man getting punched in the face.

Drug Content
A teen boy steals wine from a bar while the bartender is distracted. He and another teen get drunk. They face consequences.

Starry Eyes on GoodreadsNote: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

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About Kasey Giard

Kasey is a mother, reader and aspiring author. When she's not reading or writing, you might find her out on the water fly fishing, pretending she can keep houseplants alive, or talking with the family rescue cat.
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