Sci-Fi Novel Falls Short of Potential

Being the only person in space would be the loneliest experience anyone could ever have, but sometimes there are worse things than being lonely.

In Lauren James’s young adult sci-fi novel “The Loneliest Girl in the Universe,”16-year-old Romy Silvers has spent her entire existence aboard the Infinity, a giant vessel traveling many light years from Earth in hopes of reaching another habitable planet.

After a horrific accident resulting in the deaths of her parents and other astronauts, Romy has lived alone on the space vessel as the commander of the Infinity for nearly six years.

However, hope ignites within Romy when she receives a message from NASA that tells of another spacecraft, the Eternity, traveling to the Infinity to join her on her mission to find Earth II.

Romy is ecstatic at the news that she won’t be alone anymore, but when she starts to email the Eternity’s commander, she begins to discover that perhaps she’d rather be alone after all.

The concept of the novel is a rather unique one. There are many fictional works set in the mysterious depths of space, but not many have a concentration on humankind in search of a second inhabitable planet.

Reading about a fictional future NASA mission and learning how their mission was set up and placed made the science and technology aspect of the novel very interesting and thought-provoking.

As for the plot of the book, there are a lot of aspects that fell flat, but it was admittedly refreshing to read a book from the perspective of a girl who isn’t instantly badass and strong, a girl who has to grow and develop her courage and bravery. However, the writing in many parts of the novel felt weak and commonplace.

The book is told from the first-person perspective of Romy, so the reader should instantly know everything Romy thinks about. There shouldn’t be something Romy knows that the reader doesn’t unless perhaps her traumatic memories were locked away and unknown to even her.

In the very beginnings of the novel, the reader is informed that a terrible accident occurred on the space vessel involving Romy’s parents and fellow astronauts. Romy doesn’t reveal what exactly happened until the story is almost at a close.

One could argue that perhaps she tried not to think of the awful deaths of the Infinity’s crew, but as she frequently thought of and agonized over the tragic events, the flashbacks shouldn’t have been revealed towards the end of the story. If Romy knows what happened and thinks frequently about it, the reader should definitely know what happened instead of it being a dramatic reveal.

The major weak point of the novel was the villain and the motive behind his actions. The villain was very one-dimensional and cliché. The lengths he went to in order to fulfill his goal seemed very over-the-top and ridiculous, and all in all, just very unrealistic.

His purpose was not worth all the lengths he went to. Reading the grand reveal of his plan felt very underwhelming and almost laughable. He may have been scary to Romy, but he wasn’t scary to the reader.

Although the novel admiringly had a relatable heroine and a very interesting setting, the conflict fell short and ultimately pulled a lot of the novel’s substance down. However, as this is a young adult novel, it is most likely not aimed at college students to begin with.

It could definitely have been a stronger story, but at least “The Loneliest Girl in the Universe” made for quick and interesting read for a rainy day!

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)