Published by Simon Pulse on April 3, 2018
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
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FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Starry Eyes is a young adult contemporary novel that follows teens Zorie and Lennon. Zorie and Lennon used to be best friends but, because of something that happened at the homecoming dance, they are now sworn enemies and do everything they can to avoid one another at all costs. I had never read a book by Jean Bennett before and knew absolutely nothing about these characters, but as soon as I read that in the synopsis, I was dying to know what happened at that dance to drive them apart.
I then read further down the synopsis and saw that these enemies somehow not only end up on a camping trip together, but somehow they end up stranded in the wilderness together. It sounded like a recipe for disaster, but also a recipe for a fantastic read!
As if the mystery of what happened between Zorie and Lennon and whether or not they would kill each other on this camping trip wasn’t compelling enough, the synopsis goes on to describe their parents as modern day versions of the Montagues and Capulets from Romeo and Juliet. That right there was more than enough to have me dying to read this book. I mean, seriously…bffs who now hate each other and who have families who are also feuding? Does that not just scream “READ ME”? Well, it did for me anyway…
And I loved every page of it. Jenn Bennett delivers a moving story filled with characters that I fell in love with. Even though on the surface, Starry Eyes is a book about a camping trip gone wrong, it’s also about family, love, friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and so much more. It captured all of my emotions and was just everything I hoped it would be.
Zorie. I just loved everything about Zorie. I found her addiction to planning and organization, along with her sense of humor and her fondness for astronomy, so endearing. I also found her incredibly relatable at times, especially when she first encounters Lennon. They’re enemies at this point and she would rather do just about anything than have to come face-to-face with him. Haven’t we all been in that position before? Equally relatable was her questionable taste in romantic interests. Zorie has a crush on a guy named Brett, and I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I’m just going to say this guy is just the worst. I couldn’t figure out what in the world she saw in him. But again, haven’t we all been there at some point? I think what I liked most about Zorie, however, was how much she matured throughout the story. Again, no spoilers, but between what happened with Lennon and what has been going on within her own family, Zorie has a lot of issues that she is dealing with and I think she shows tremendous growth as we move through the story, In many ways, it’s actually a coming of age story for her.
Lennon. Even though I thought going in that I would side with either Zorie or Lennon, I found myself equally attached to both of them. Lennon is just this cool guy. He’s a little dark and emo at times, but he loves reptiles and he loves camping and nature so he’s a pretty well rounded and interesting individual. He really won me over though in an early scene where he’s working in a pet shop and showing reptiles to a young child. He was just so great with the child that it warmed my heart and made me all the more curious about what happened between him and Zorie. I mean, how could you not want to be friends or even more than friends with such a great guy!
Zorie and Lennon together. Yes, you read that correctly! Even though I almost always whine and moan when there is a romance in a book, I adored watching Zorie and Lennon together as they attempted to rebuild their relationship. Their chemistry felt real because they already had so much history together, and I loved how authentic the awkwardness felt when they first start trying to talk to each other again, and because I liked them both so much, I just really wanted them to have a second chance, either as friend or hopefully as more than friends since they seemed so perfect together.
Great secondary characters. Bennett does a fantastic job with most of the parents in this story. I loved Lennon’s moms and their Toys in the Attic sex shop. They were hilarious and also two of the best parents I’ve come across in books in a long time. I especially love how protective they are of Zorie, even though they’re supposed to be feuding with Zorie’s dad. Zorie’s stepmom is wonderful too. The bond she has with Zorie was lovely, especially since they aren’t related by blood. Zorie’s dad is a different story in that I loathed him, but I will say he was not a flat character either.
Glamping. I confess that I completely related to Zorie’s aversion to going camping because I don’t do the outdoors either, especially the whole sleeping in a tent with nothing but some canvas between you and whatever else it out there in the wild, lol. That said, however, I could totally get down with glamping. It sounded fabulous, especially the wonderful sleeping accommodations, the showers, the chef, and the cocktail hours. Sign me up!
I could literally go on and on about what I loved, but you get the idea…
Aside from wanting Brett to get eaten by a bear, I didn’t really have any issues with this book.
This may have been my first Jenn Bennett read, but it will most certainly not be my last. If you’re looking for a heartwarming read about family, friendship, and first loves, I’d highly recommend 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?