book review · books · shanti

Starry Eyes Blog Tour-Review

So, I have a bit of a reputation for talking about light pollution. Like, a lot. Like, start a conversation with me about anything apart from university, and withing three minutes we’ll be onto a) books, b) light pollution, or c) GDPR (In other news, I’m a delight at parties and make everyon want to be my friend). And one of the things I talk about when I talk about light pollution is about how the places without light pollution are out in the wilds; the places I go tramping (or ‘hiking’ if you’re American) to. The sky is a place of perpetual wilderness, but too often we can’t see that because we are immersed in the small lights of our own creation. (that was deep). So, I loved that this book talked a lot about the value of wildeneress and stars. It also had excellent character development and lots of complexity. I’m participating in the blog tour for this book today, which I’m really excited about, thanks to Simon and Schuster Australia , who gave me a copy of the book.

Starry Eyes cover.jpg

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. Blurb provided by publisher. Buy it at Whitcoulls or Amazon Australia.

Starry Eyes made me want to go tramping in the US, which I’ve never wanted before. But the Californian National Parks just sound wonderful. And warm! (New Zealand is plummetting towards winter, so I like the idea of summer a lot at the moment). There is lots of scary wilderness experiences in this story (caves! snakes! (sidenote: if you want to hear a story about me and a snake in the wild, ask in the comments) bears! tents that are complicated to set up!). I loved how the great expanse of the great outdoors gave the characters an opportunity to think really hard about the choices they were making, and the people they were becoming. Jenn Bennett had this set up where Zorie, the main character, finds out something pretty significant just before she leaves to go on the trip, and deciding what to do is an important subplot. I liked how Starry Eyes explored Zorie’s connection to the sky, and why she loved stars so much; it made all the discussions about the fickleness of relationships that end much more poignant. There’ll always be a sky, even when it rains (metaphorically and literally, haha).
Of course, while there are relationships that end in this book, something which is done very sensitively but with a romance novel’s flair for drama, the highlight is the relationship which heals. Zorie and Lennon have a lot that is between them that makes it hard to be together. Namely, they don’t really trust each other. Many romance books are built around a misunderstanding, and that’s somewhat the case here, but it felt like the various issues were an important part of the character’s emotional landscapes, and not merely there to provide plot. Zorie is a charming lead character; she’s passionate, but still figuring out how to make her way in the world; to be the person she is and the person that other people, like her dad and her friend Reagan, are asking her to be. I also loved Lennon’s character. There’s a whole plotline of how he’s changed, and that’s one of the most beautiful part of the story: Zorie and Lennon seeing each other as who they really are, not who they were before fell out. This book is really a story where the characters are whole people, and I loved that.
(it’s also very romantic! the love story is so satisfying and lovely, and just the sort of thing a cynic like me needs to read every now and again.)
This is a story about complexity. It’s a story about the complexity of the wilderness: for all that it’s a space for change and contemplation, it’s also a place where things go wrong, and you have to learn to deal with that. The nuances of family are also explored–Zorie has a stepmum who she loves to bits, and her relationships with that side of her family was nice to see more of at the end. And Lennon has two mums. Both Zorie and Lennon have to deal with some of their family stuf and their hurt feelings even as they seek solace in each other.
Starry Eyes also includes these wonderful maps that were drawns by the author. The maps are imprecise, but adorable, just like the story itself; invitations to get lost in the arching sky of a story, because you know you’ll be found again.

Be sure to check out the rest of the blog tour–you can see the whole schedule here. There’s lots of giveaways and author Q and A’s which will be fun!

Have you read this book? Where in your life have you seen the best stars? let me know in the comments!

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6 thoughts on “Starry Eyes Blog Tour-Review

  1. An interesting coincidence that you posted this review on the exact day that I returned from a three-week trip in the rugged California wilderness where I encountered many of the locations that are likely to have been mentioned in the book and was constantly in awe of the lack of light pollution.

    Where exactly did they go? Some of the places I went were:

    Lake Shasta
    Yosemite National Park
    Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park
    Breckenridge Mountain
    Angeles National Monument
    Anza-Borrego State Park
    A canyon on the Mexican border
    Various sites in Owens Valley
    Kennedy Meadows
    Red Rock Canyon State Park

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    1. I’ll message you the map of where they went. A delightful coincidence. (I was writing an article about light pollution yesterday and realised that I could probably write a book about it. I have SO MANY THOUGHTS about light pollution, if you’re ever in the mood for extreme passion. It is my go to conversation topic. Tonight I watched some fireworks and I have more feelings than I anticipated) They were in Yosemite I think, went up some staircase thing and so on.

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  2. Lovely review, Shanti! I had my eye on this book for a little while now – it sounds like the perfect contemporary for me, and I loved Jenn Bennett’s The Anatomical Shape of a Heart. I can’t wait to read that one ❤ ❤

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  3. My husband is an amateur astronomer and luckily living in an urban rural area, the light pollution is extremely light and often barely there, so we’re lucky to be able to see a multitude of stars on a clear night. I love Jenn Bennett books for all the reasons you’ve mentioned too Shanti, she creates such wonderfully, often messy characters with heart and compassion. They’re just as important as individuals as they are in relationships or as a family member. I could honestly crawl into her books and live there, bears, snakebites and all. Your snake story sounds like quite the tale!

    So glad you enjoyed this too Shanti, absolutely lovely review! ♥♥♥

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  4. I’ve noticed that since I moved from Thailand, even in a major city in Aus, there are so many more stars! I now love to tip my head back at night, and feel immersed in a landscape of faraway jewels. 🙂

    This sounds like a lovely book! Wonderful review!

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