Published: 2017 - Walker Books.
Genres: Young adult / sci-fi / romance / adventure
Pages: 290.
Triggers/Content Advisory: Occasional scenes of traumatic, graphic violence / severe themes of PTSD
Format: Paperback.
Source: Thank you so much to Pan Macmillan SA for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.
Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away? Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity amongst the stars. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth – with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication with each other is via email – and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit across space. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone . . .

When I picked up this little book, I honestly expected a middle grade type story - sweet, innocent, cheesy, and adorable. What I did not expect was what grabbed my heart and broke it apart in front of my eyes. Or at least, that's what it felt like.

But I don't like the writing. I think this is entirely personal preference because there's nothing primarily wrong with it, but it just did not work for me. James' style is very plain and uninspired, and the way she structures sentences and uses punctuation, is not the way I like it at all. From the very start, I couldn't warm to the style.

The story is......hard to give an opinion on. I admit I was bored for about the first quarter, and yet when I passed the halfway mark it became surprisingly easy to fly through. And, it is one of those stories you never actually appreciate until you get to the end.
The ending - or rather the beginning of the third Act where thing start going downhill - is incredible. The absolute unpredictably, the twists, the horrifying change of direction is intelligent and utterly brilliant. I was sobbing my heart out and breaking for Romy, and at the same time in awe of the way the author handled the story events. She truly blows you away by her sheer genius while taking care to nail your heart to the wall and make you watch the entire thing. The ending is completely gut-wrenching and terrifyingly dark, but so, so good.  It makes the scenes before it worth your time. It's also the reason I'm giving the book a rating of 4 instead of 3

“Love take so much energy, and it just leads to pain. I think it's probably best for people to be self-sufficient. If I was strong enough to be independent, then I wouldn't be so desperately lonely. I'm sure of it,”

The characters are well-drawn. No one has amazing depth, but it's easy to place their personalities and they all have clear, strong motivations - their story goals are powerful.

I don't love Romy. She's one of those sweet, naive, innocent, idealistic kind of girls (which makes sense considering her situation), but unlike Cress in The Lunar Chronicles, her naivety comes across more annoying than endearing. For about the first half of the book I struggled to like her. She was just annoying. I get that she's living a life most of us will only ever have nightmares about, but still. Her personality just itches on my nerves.  On the flip side though, I can relate to some aspects of her personality (some of the more vulnerable, deep desires) and I did feel sorry for her at the end; I finally saw her innocence, brokenness, and need for love laid bare. By the end of the book I just wanted to give her a hug. She's not a great heroine and I never loved her character, but I appreciated and admired her in the end.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe will take you by surprise. It's a tale of naked horror, beautiful heartbreak, revolving around family, relationships, and the need for them. It's honest and moving. 
The writing and heroine aren't brilliant, but the ending of the book will blow you away and win you over. Don't underestimate it. 

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