My rating in stars: 4,5 stars
My rating in words: Loved it!
WHAT IT’S ABOUT:
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 THOUGHTS (SPOILER-FREE):
“Planning can’t save you from everything. Change is inevitable and uncertainty is a given.”
Honestly, it’s been a while since I wrote a review. Though I’ve read books I liked and even loved, none of them had me feeling the urge to write about my feelings and share them with the world. None of them had me itching to talk about them and encourage other people to read them. None of them, until I read Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett. So in case you haven’t figured it out yet, prepare for a rave review because I ADORED THIS BOOK AND NEED TO TALK ABOUT WHY I LOVED IT SO MUCH!
Friends to enemies to lovers trope. Excuse me, but if you insist on taking not one, but TWO OF MY FAVORITE TROPES, mashing them together and writing a book about them, chances are I will love it. Which of course I did. Zorie and Lennon used to be best friends, until something happened at Homecoming which drove them apart and even turned them into enemies. It doesn’t help that their parents are feuding. Until they go on a camping trip and end up alone in the woods. Which brings me to another favorite…
Camping. Now, if you know me, you’d be thinking ‘What?’. I don’t like camping. I love my luxuries of running water, showers and bathrooms and nice food too much. That and a fear of bugs and wild animals. But I still loved reading about it, as weird as it may sound. In the beginning of the book, Zorie and Lennon go glamping, something definitely way more up my alley, as the luxury yurts did sound appealing. But once they end up in the wild and are actually camping for real, I weirdly didn’t hate it either. Though I was stressed out for Zorie (at one point I may have been screaming at them “No, what are you doing, don’t go into a dark cave without cell reception or anyone knowing where you are!” and it was obvious I’ll never go camping anyway), it did feel rather charming and I could see why Lennon loved camping in the wild so much. I almost (read: ALMOST) want to try it myself, but it’s probably for the best if I’ll just stick to re-reading this book.
Witty, nerdy banter. Zorie and Lennon are both such amazing, fun, well-rounded charcacters. I adored how both of them were nerdy in their own unique way. Zorie loves plaid, funky glasses, planning and space. Lennon is a horrorphile who loves black clothes, reptiles and camping. Both of them are characters I’d love to know in real life because they both actually felt like they could be great friends. But as great as they are apart, it’s when they are together that they come even more alive. That’s right, beside my favorite tropes, Starry Eyes also has some of the best banter. I am sold.
Family dynamics. No missing parents here! Actually, the family dynamics play a big part in the story, since Zorie and Lennon’s family are pretty much enemies ever since Lennon’s two moms (who are amazing and adorable and I only wish we had more of them) started a sex shop right next door to the massage and accupuncture clinic run by Zorie’s parents. I also loved the relationship between Zorie and her Korean-American stepmom, Joy, and I appreciated that this relationship got so much focus in the story because we definitely need to step away from the evil stepmom trope and give them some love instead. Zorie’s dad on the other hand, does not deserve the love, since he’s a racist homophobe, among other things.
Friendships gone wrong. While the main friendship here is of course the friendship between Zorie and Lennon and it’s transition into something more, it’s not the only friendship in the story. I actually really loved the message Jenn Wilde gave throughout the story about how sometimes friendships are toxic and don’t have to be sustained, while sometimes better friends are right in front of you if you’d only notice them.
Overall, I’d highly recommend Starry Eyes if you love any or all of the following: contemporary YA, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, glamping, camping, banter, stargazing, survival tips, adorable families, diversity, family focus and/or the highs and lows of friendships. Also, sex positivity and safe sex rep! The list goes on and on. Or just trust me and give this book a try – you won’t regret it!
“Don’t be cautious. Be careful,’ she reminds me. Cautious people are afraid of the unknown and avoid it. Careful people plan so that they’re more confident when they face the unknown.”
“But there’s comfort in knowing that when your plans fall apart, you can survive. That the worst thing imaginable can happen, but you can get through it.”
“It’s years in the making, and it’s messy and convoluted, some of it even tragic. But I wouldn’t change the route, because we walked it together, even when we were apart. And the best part about it is that it’s unfinished. Uncertainty isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it can even be filled with extraordinary potential.”
“Planning can’t save you from everything. Change is inevitable and uncertainty is a given. And if you plan so much that you can’t function without one, life’s no fun. All the calendars, journals, and lists in the world won’t save you when the sky falls.”
“When I looked up at the stars, I saw us. You were the stars and I was the dark sky behind you”
“Without dark sky you couldn’t see the stars”
“I knew I was useful” he says