Starry Eyes – Jenn Bennett – Simon Pulse – Published 3 April 2018




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

Starry Eyes – a tale of friendship, second chances, family breakdown, intense love, and learning to be spontaneous, trust yourself, and survive in the wilderness. Starry Eyes made me want to pack a backpack and hit a hiking trail. It is both fun and romantic.

Shocked when she discovers a family secret, Zorie is happy to escape by accepting an invitation to go glamping with some of her classmates. But she is not so happy to discover that Lennon – once her best friend turned something more and now her biggest enemy – has also been invited. When she and Lennon are separated from the others, the two of them must trek their way through the wilderness together.

Isn’t there just something so absolutely glorious about best-friend romance? And if there is something I like equally as much, it is a story about enemies who become lovers. And with Starry Eyes, you get both for the price of one! I loved every minute of Zorie and Lennon’s story. I loved Lennon’s dry humour and quick quips. The time he and Zorie spend together is so much fun. As they tease each other, as they join forces together against the world, even as they finally face the things that tore them apart, there is something undeniable about their connection. Theirs is an all-consuming relationship – but the lead up, the explanation, the shared history, all make it convincing and it really works well.

I admit that the first half of this book was a little annoying. And it’s all due to Zorie’s fellow campers. Because Zorie’s ‘friends’ are idiots. Honesty, I almost got stress hives just from reading about the idiotic way in which they conducted themselves. Ahhhh!! So everything is a lot nicer when it is just Zorie and Lennon.

The setting really is beautiful in Starry Eyes – from Zorie’s love of astronomy and the stars, to the rugged landscape she and Lennon must fight their way through. I really wanted to grab a pair of hiking boots and join them (if I could stand being a third wheel, that is).

Starry Eyes was funny and surprising. Got to love that opening scene as Zorie must face the embarrassment of venturing into the neighbourhood adult shop (I kid you not!). But romance and fun isn’t all Starry Eyes has to offer. Family breakdown is a strong theme, as is acceptance, and grief. In the last two weeks I have read three books that all touch on the topic of suicide. Each book handled it in its own unique way. One focused entirely on it, in a magical, almost ethereal way. Another matched the heartbreaking topic with humour and a lighthearted commentary on everything from donkeys to grammar. And, Starry Eyes only briefly touches upon the topic, as it is woven into the backstory while the rest of the story focuses on friendship and romance. And yet, it too incorporates this important topic in a way that is accessible and relatable.

Starry Eyes is a fun, intensely romantic novel that is easy to read and will thrill Jenn Bennett’s fans.

The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.

More information

Category: Young adult fiction.

Genre: Contemporary / Adventure.

Themes: Hiking, friendship, family breakdown, sex and dating, relationships, camping, survival, family, adultery, astronomy, romance.

Reading age guide: Ages 14-16 and up.

Advisory: Frequent sexual references, multiple sex scenes with minimal details, references to adultery, adult shops and sex toys. Coarse language, f*** (6), sh** (34), as***** (3), di** (5), co** (1), bit** (1).

Published:  3 April 2018 by Simon Pulse.

Format: Hardcover, ebook. 432 pages.

ISBN: 9781481478809

Find it on Goodreads