The Loneliest Girl in the Universe (2017) – Lauren James

Title: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe
Author: Lauren James
Date published: 2017
Publisher: Walker Books
Star Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Romy Silvers is a typical teenage girl who writes fan fiction and is obsessed with a TV show called Loch and Ness in which she creates fantasies about her favorite characters. She tries to get in a little bit of exercise each day, and is actually pretty great at complicated math and science equations. Romy has never kissed a boy before, and she has also never set one foot on planet Earth. This is not a metaphor for the new generation of teenagers that live their lives ‘online’. Romy Silvers was born on a spacecraft called The Infinity that is headed for Earth 2, a planet called Planet HT 3485c. This new planet was discovered and earmarked to become the new Planet Earth, and Romy’s home is meant to get her there. Once upon a time she also had parents with her on the Infinity, but due to some unforeseen and tragic circumstances Romy is alone on the ship. Her only contact with the outside world; aka Earth (the original) is through a series of emails and audio clips from a psychologist called Molly working at NASA.

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The Infinity is meant to arrive at the new planet in a few years and upon arrival Romy will have to begin the process of making this new planet inhabitable for a new generation of human beings. Being only 16 Romy not only struggles with the usual teenage angst, but she also has to attempt to survive feelings of cabin fever, boredom and loneliness. After her parents tragic end Romy is made Commander of the ship, and becomes wholly responsible for the entire operation. Quite a lot of responsibility for a kid who is not only young but extremely inexperienced in the ways of ‘normal’ life but Romy is very capable and definitely the hero of this story.

However her mundane and lonely existence is altered one day when she receives news from  Earth that she will soon be able to interact with other people who are on board a new spacecraft called the Eternity that was launched in order to meet up with the Infinity and assist in populating and creating a new planet. Romy is obviously ecstatic and so follows a series of emails between her and the mysterious Commander J.

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I have to be very objective about this book because realistically Romy’s situation would under normal circumstances make her a lot less aware than she appears in this novel. Aimed at a young adult/teenage audience there are so many aspects to love about Lauren James’ writing and her characters. I love Romy. She is the kind of character who deserves far more days in the sun, and far more adventures. James’ descriptions of life on a spacecraft, and the creepiness of being isolated and alone are well executed and it is this ability of hers to accurately describe the depth of Romy’s loneliness that kept me reading. I have always loved science fiction, and this mild plot serves well as an introduction to younger readers on the awesomeness of space travel. It is also refreshing to read a novel completely oblivious to the taboos of seeking emotional and psychiatric help, and in Romy’s case she has been traumatized previously and living in isolation on a spaceship without any real support system.

In conclusion I loved this novel! It was easy to become quickly absorbed and invested in Romy’s life. On the other end of the spectrum though the reader should not be too quick to dismiss the overarching tragedy that caused Earth to seek a new location, and with a smattering of nerd culture and teenage lust this novel should hopefully force one to think about the implications of being a little too ‘online’ and a little more grounded on planet Earth.

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