Release date: 7.9.2017
Buy it here
Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never met, never even spoken to – someone who is light years away? Romy Silvers is the only surviving crew-member of a spaceship travelling to a new planet, on a mission to establish a second home for humanity. Alone in space, she is the loneliest girl in the universe until she hears about a new ship which has launched from Earth with a single passenger on board. A boy called J. Their only communication is via email and due to the distance between them, their messages take months to transmit. And yet Romy finds herself falling in love. But what does Romy really know about J? And what do the mysterious messages which have started arriving from Earth really mean? Sometimes, there’s something worse than being alone…
“I got so lucky. In what could have been the worst, most isolating time of my life, I’ve found the greatest friendship.”
As someone who loved The Martian (both the book and the film, but mainly the book) and loathed the Jennifer Lawrence led film Passengers, I did start this book with a little trepidation. Was Romy going to be a teen angsty version of Chris Pratt’s Jim?
No, no she was not. Instead she was a highly relatable person (not teen, not female. She is a character that spans ages and genders.) who is thrown into an isolated situation that she did not chose, had no training for and is doing the best she can,
Here’s were James truly gets me. There are two things that tend to disengage me as a reader; integrated fan fiction and emails to progress the plot. However, where other writers sometimes fail James uses both with precision and skill. Not only do I know I need to read them, I want to read them. The emails don’t feel like an invasion of privacy but an exploration of a blossoming friendship. It helps that Romy refers to them as part of her own inner dialogue.
I find the building relationship between Romy and J believable. The exploration of death, grief and guilt is impeccable and heart-breaking. You will want to lift Romy out from the pages and give her a hug; you’ll want to tell her she’s not alone.
There’s a sucker-punch, Alien-esque final act that puts Romy right up there with my favourite role model; Ripley. And while it takes a leaf out of some sci-fi tropes, it does not feel contrived. It also made me recall one of my favourite horrors; Urban Legend. In my head, I’m screaming “Natalie”! There’s a nostalgia to this novel that makes it strangely refreshing.
Despite the story being set in space, James addresses many problems we all face today. It’s the perfect landscape to explore the dangers of online dating, for example. In modern society people are finding it harder to meet a potential partner in an organic way. Our fear of being alone, leads us to this online forum that requires us to take a leap of faith.
Whether Lauren James intended to or not it feels like I’ve found one of the best modern allegories I’ve had the pleasure of devouring in a long time. When I return to school in September, this is the book I intend to recommend to each student in my classes with the hopes they do learn that sometimes there are sometimes worse things than being alone.