Title: Starry Eyes
Author: Jenn Bennett
Genre/Themes: Contemporary YA, Easy Read, Cute Romance, Family Dynamics, Teen Relationships
Blurb from Goodreads
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.
For the most part I really enjoyed Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett. It was seriously cute with lots of cosy feels which was exactly what I want from this type of book. Also apologies cos this review is an absolute mess! It’s more like a train of random thoughts rather than a cohesive and carefully thought out critique. Oops!
Zorrie was the main character and I really, really liked her. She was the perfect type of character to carry off a cute and fluffy storyline.
Lennon was the main boy. Also an engaging character but really my abiding thoughts about him are WHY ARE YOU SO INTERESTED IN SNAKES AND REPTILES BECAUSE OH MY GOD THEY TERRIFY ME AND I CAN’T COPE!!!!
As for Brett… yeah not a fan! He was so obnoxious with how he tried to prove how he was somehow better than everyone else. And every time he tried to name drop Kerouac, Ginsberg and that whole beatnik cohort I just wanted to slap him in the face… With a bus…. (I mean he’s a great character to hate on so kudos to Bennett for that!)
Zorrie’s stepmom though: I absolutely LOVE how she was such a positive and supportive character who really kicked that awful wicked stepmother trop off the bookish pitch!
But as for the other characters: Reagan and the other bestie that liked astronomy. Yeah both were disappointingly just walking talking stereotypes rather than interesting characters.
BUT CAN WE TALK ABOUT HIVES AND BODY RASHES AND SIMILAR SKIN MARKINGS AND HOW THEY ARE NORMALISED IN THIS BOOK AND YOU CAN STILL BE THOUGHT OF AS SEXY AND CUTE WHILE NEEDING ANTIHISTAMINES!!!! Yassss. Love that.
And the positive depiction of teen sex was great. It managed to be incredibly both sweet and sexy, and it was all sorts of mixed up and awkward which therefore made it feel realistic.
Also brownie points for just normalising diversity and being incredibly inclusive. I loved how Lennon had two moms and that it wasn’t an issue. That was just his family.
But even though I liked all these things at times the plot just felt a bit meh! It’s hard to put my finger on it but I think because I’ve read so much by Jenn Bennett (and loved it all) that my expectations were through the roof.
I guess at times the plot felt a little bit jaded.
The drama with the parents just seemed a little overwrought and a bit messily written. Granted there was a valid reason for all the histrionics and the plot did make that clear… I’m trying to avoid spoilers so it’s difficult to completely discuss this but what I can say is that for the bulk of the book Zorrie’s dad was very controlling. However towards the end of the boom he made some life choices (that would affect his parenting methods with Zorrie) and it just seemed completely in opposition to his toxic need to control. Yet this change in viewpoint occurred with absolutely no character growth. Hence it felt illogical! Just a criminally underdeveloped ending really.
Overall this was a fun read even though it was incredibly predictable with moments of utter ridiculousness. I really enjoyed the setting as I’ve never been camping … I’m far too attached to my creature comforts! But it was enjoyable reading about the great American outdoors and all the icky parts of camping from the cosiness of my sofa!