Cover Image: Starworld

Starworld

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Member Reviews

I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


It's a bittersweet story about two girls struggling with their problems in this world.
I love how the characters grow and tackle the problems in the end.
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I can't find the file on my kindle, so I can't review this one since it got archived too early and I didn't get a chance to read it yet.
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Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher for the chance to read this novel!

Rating: 3 stars
Rep: questioning/sapphic MC, mental illness (OCD & anxiety) and disability. 
Trigger warnings: cancer, talks on mental illness and disability, miscarriage, divorce. 


First off, this is in no way a happy book, and I'll be honest, the reason it's taken me so long to read and review is that I haven't been in the right frame of mind to read about the heavy topics this book brings up. The novel deals with things like; adoption, miscarriage, divorce, having family members with mental illness/disability, questioning who you are and your place in the world. 


First off, things I liked:
-The friendship that Sam and Zoe form was amazingly done, I loved their connection, the way they created a safe place within "Starworld" that they could retreat when life got too tough. 
-I loved the writing style and the fact that this book is dual perspective. 


Things I didn't like:
-I'm really on the fence about the way the disability and mental illness rep was handled. As I'm not own voices for the disability rep, I don't feel confident enough to talk in-depth about how Zoe's brother, Jonah, was portrayed. However, I am OV for mental illness rep and Sam's attitude and overall inner thoughts towards her mother were hard to read at times. I totally get where Sam was coming from, how hard it can be, but I still didn't like the way she treated her mum. 

-This book didn't feel like it had a distinctive plot to me. It's mainly character-driven (which I love), but I also need to feel like I'm going somewhere while reading, I need a destination in mind, I didn't feel like this had that. Also, the ending was very disappointing to me personally.  



Overall, I'm very happy I had the opportunity to read this and I will 100% be reading more by these authors in the future, this one just wasn't for me.
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This book! I loved this book! I am now committed to reading more by this author ! 

It is full of hope , friendship and representation . Own voices done right ! 

Zoe and Sam are characters i will hold dearly and want to hug forever . 

Even though they are both opposites.. they find common ground in needing each other to escape . They create their own world via text called Starworld. 

The message behind this book is strong and emotional . I loved it and it needs to be read by all!  Thank you Net galley!
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It captured me from the first page. Hook, line, and sinker. 

Coming in from a dual-perspective, this book gave you the true insight into the two main characters, the popular drama girl and the quiet art girl. It's a gorgeous LGBT story about two girls finding themselves and who they are. It never went the way I anticipated it to, and I loved it so much more because of that. The characters feel real, and their situations may be so far from my own, but I still felt as if I understood. I wanted to stand by their sides and help them fight the demons that kept swooping at them. It's honestly nothing like I've read before and I can't recommend this book enough.
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I know the whole promise of this book was about the two girls becoming friends because of their 'Starworld' talk and I thought that would be cute, which it kind of was, but a some parts it was overly cheesy and I was getting some second hand embarrassment when they were messaging. To the point at some parts I would have to skip over the text chat. 

I related to both Zoe and Sam quite a bit more tha n I thought I would. Sam with her anxiety and how she felt excluded in her high school. And especially with Zoe and how it felt to grow up with a sibling who is disabled and even the way she cared for him can make her feel guilt in certain situations. 

I was expecting a lot more f/f romance i this book rather than just a coming out and getting rejected kind of story. I think that's what didn't live up to my expectations of this book. I wanted a cute fluffy queer romance with some angsty young adult problems but I felt like there was so much drama and extra problems with their families added in to make this book a little longer and by the end they were all sorted within the last 20 pages.
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Oh my, as much as I enjoyed reading this book in one day, I can only give it a 3.5 star rating. This is a beautifully written contemporary that deals with two very different teens and their family's mental and physical health. The writing of this story was beautiful. It felt like I was watching a movie unfold. Though I enjoyed the characters and the story I just couldn't really connect with them. They were enjoyable to read, but easy for me to forget.

Sam is a quiet girl who loves the stars and art. She prefers to be invisible. Her parents are divorced and her mom has OCD. She's sick of the rules and rituals of her mother. She misses her father and wants to branch out. Sam was a funny character because she was quirky in her own way. She's very much her own person in a strange way. I loved the way she talked with her friend Will and how she interacted with Zoe in a robotic way. I could definitely imagine her character. I enjoyed that Sam was also a lesbian as well as it bought diversity to the story.

Zoe is a "good" girl -- the girl everyone likes, loves and wants to be friends with. However, she is dealing with a lot of hardship. Her mother's cancer and her brother having down syndrome. There is so much she has to do to help out at home and she has no outlet to let out her emotions. Zoe was definitely a sweet girl, but I felt bad with how much stuff she had to deal with emotionally. She is a strong girl, but her strength was also her weakness.

The connection between Sam and Zoe was perfect. They clicked because they were able to relate to one another. I enjoyed the friendship that they formed. I loved how vulnerable they were with one another. I enjoyed the growth they were able to help sprout in each other.

That ending was so sad. I almost cried, but that epilogue saved the day!

Good contemporary that can be read in one sitting. Funny, and heartfelt. Would recommend it.
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Title provided in exchange for an honest review.

I really think that books that discuss hard topics get an automatic 1 star. It is very hard in YA books, to bring reality to them in a way that engages them, but lets them find themselves in this story.

What got me, like most books, is the execution of the story. First, I hate when text format is used and alternating points of view. I think it's a bit of a cop out to writing in 3rd which requires more development (unless it is a series) in how the characters in a story react to each other. It's harder to do because it needs to be reasonable, whereas from a character's perspective it's whatever the character thinks, feels, or experiences.

I was pulled in by the concept of the book, overall, but the characters in this book were not very strong in the sense of how well the reader could relate. On top of it, it's even more difficult to write two characters with two completely different authors. The format just broke this for me in terms of my liking it, because it broke the world the story was in, in my opinion.
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Starworld was one of those books I was super interested in reading and maybe had hyped myself up too much for. It seemed like it would be a cool queer Bridge to Terabithia, which you know sounds awesome.

Sadly though I finished this book rather disappointed. I guess I was hoping for more of the intense fantasy-like scenes that we got from Bridge to Terabithia. Instead, we got lame text conversations between Sam and Zoe.

I mean there was nothing majorly wrong with the book, I just know that I’m disappointed and can’t fully put my finger on why. Especially without going into spoilers, but one of the plot points is one of my least favourites in queer literature and IMHO majorly overdone.

I really liked the focus on friendship here and how it all grows and two people can so quickly come to depend on each other. The friendship between Zoe and Sam here really is the main selling point.

I think had part of the LGBT plot that I don’t like not been part of this story then I could have easily given this 4 stars. It was definitely a slow read though as I kept only reading a few pages then put it down.
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I wanted to like this book. The premise seemed very sweet and it seems that I am in the opposite end of the reviewer spectrum with my opinion. I think I need to chalk this one up to I am getting old and struggle to relate to YA novels now. Maybe.
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Starworld is an emotional roller coaster. It’s heartfelt and gripping.  The themes are definitely relevant and so easy to relate to. It’s an interesting commentary of how perception of people is so different than what they’re actually going through. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book, but did find some parts difficult to get through on an emotional level. 

I received a copy of Starworld from NetGalley in exchange for an honest and fair review
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This book is absolutely devastating. Sam's mom has OCD, Zoe's adoptive mom has cancer and her brother is being sent away. The mental health and disability portrayals in Starworld are heartbreakingly realistic, and the main characters deal with them the best way they can - which isn't always perfect. The characters were the kind you can root for, and I did the whole way. The character portrayals are why I stuck with this book to the end.

The writing structure, however, was kind of weird. It felt more like a script than a novel, and it was distracting at times. Right in the early chapters, there are lines like "Me: *opens databank and activates thinking.exe." It was unusual, and had I not instantly connected with the characters, I might not have finished this one.
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Sam is the artsy type. She keeps to herself and her (VERY) small group of friends, consumes herself in her art and school work, her home life isn't considered "exciting", she doesn't have a boyfriend and no one really knows much about her. Zoe is the popular girl in school. She's the star in every school production, has a popular and handsome jock boyfriend, and a mom, dad and younger brother at home who support her through it all. From the outside, her life seems pretty perfect.

One day in art class, Zoe sees one of Sam's paintings and deems it perfect for the school's play. The two exchange numbers and it doesn't take long for them to realize that they have more in common than they thought. No one knows that Sam's mother has a mental illness the same way no one knows that Zoe's biggest fear is having her autistic brother resent her for doing what their family thinks is best for him. In order to escape their struggles at home and at school, the two girls create the fantasy place of Starworld. 

"Starworld" not only visits themes surrounding high school and the struggles that most of us face during our years there - including first loves- but more importantly this story is about friendship and family.

I found the book to be super easy to read and really cute. This is also the first book I've read with a Lesbian protagonist and I think it was done extremely well. I think there could've been a little more substance in the characters and the story, but overall I enjoyed it. Like many others I was disappointed with the ending but I think it served its purpose in reminding us that not every story ends with a happy ending.
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For this book, it was the characters and their families that really got to me. I might have only rated this a 3-star review for the story, but, god, there were times that characters were dealing with their families and I was crying (in the courthouse because I read most of it during jury duty).  I figure any book that makes me feel that hard for those characters should rate at least 4 stars.

Both girls have family issues.  Sam's parents are divorced and her mother has OCD that is so prevalent that Sam has restructured her life according to her mom's rules.  Zoe's brother has a mental disability that makes him occasionally violent, on top of which, her mom has terminal cancer.  I have to admit that the way that these were introduced was a little confusing.  It seemed at first that it was the cancer that Zoe's family's main problem (and, dude, when terminal cancer isn't your family's *main* problem, it's serious) and the reason she initially was cryptic about why she couldn't invite over friends, but it became clear that it was her brother.  Again, at first I got the impression that he was physically disabled as well as mentally so, but that didn't seem to be the case at all, since it was his physical abilities that made him such a threat.  I also had some initial problems keeping straight which girl's family problems was which.

I personally do not know anybody with either the brother's condition (which I believe is not named), nor OCD, so I can't speak to the realism of how they were presented.  Perhaps others could.  The way they were presented made me sympathetic to the main characters and their problems dealing with them.  Initially Zoe gained the most sympathy from me, as she and her family dealt with whether to send her brother to a facility that cares for patients like him.  This would deprive them of someone they loved and they feared that the change would hurt him (would the facility know how to take care of him?  Would he feel abandoned?), but as her mom's conditioned worsened they logically knew that Zoe and her father couldn't handle him alone, when they could barely handle him with Mom there.  That said, it was Sam who got to me in the end, when she confronted her parents about secrets and also about how her mom's OCD had affected her.

So I have to admit that in the beginning, I had difficulty getting into the book.  One reason was my confusion over what the family problems were and whose was whose, but a bigger problem was the overload of Sam's voice in the first chapter.  This is a thing I see sometimes, where an author wants to show off the strength of some aspect of a character's voice they think will be catchy to the reader at the beginning, and they overdo it.  Sam does have a strange way of referencing things at times (particularly in text-speak), but her POV for the rest of the book doesn't match that first chapter.  

One place where this story fell down for me was Starworld itself.  The fantasy world was named from a painting Sam had made that Zoe wanted as a backdrop for a play she was working in.  If you were expecting that the text-based game they start playing based on this painting would be sci-fi, you'd be wrong.  It is pure fantasy, starring a dragon named Humphrey.  I will say that this is totally a thing I could see me and a friend doing (or maybe we have, basically), and that it would probably look a lot like what Zoe and Sam came up with...but developing the responses to someone else in a format like that is a lot more fun than reading someone else's game that you're not a participant in, especially when the game doesn't have much in the way of conflict until late in it when Sam at least develops a puzzle for Zoe to figure out.

Instead Starworld is an excuse to develop the relationship between Sam and Zoe.  I like that even as they developed their relationship with each other, the book continued showing their relationships with other people.  I also like that, even though Sam fell for Zoe, this was not a romance. 

Recommended for fans of: YA contemporaries that aren't romances; strong friendship themes; complicated family relationships; important side characters with medical problems and mental disabilities; (minor) stories-within-stories; text-speak; Fairy Godbots

Note 1: I received a copy of the book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Note 2: The formatting in this eARC was awful.  I tried not to let it affect my review of the book, but while I believe that the random paragraph breaks in the middle of sentences won't show up in the book, I can only hope that the text-speak is in some different type in the actual book because it was really hard to see where it ended and where it began in the ARC.
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I'm always up for a YA story of differing worlds - especially when it sounds like something from the Breakfast Club. This is the princess and the basket case, finding an unlikely friendship and figuring out where to go from there. And yes, there is a lot of this that is classic and predictable--but there is a surprisingly large amount of original stuff that keeps you on your toes.

I have to start off by saying this: I relate to Sam *so hard*. SO HARD. I was the outcast in high school, who only really got accepted at all once the rest of the school realized I had a talent. (For me, it was theatre. For Sam, it's art.) I spent most of this book doubled over in laughter, hearing my own high school voice in Sam. And back then, there was a piece of me that would have loved for one of the Popular Kids to suddenly notice me.

But true to real life, there is so much more to Zoe, and to Sam, than what the school sees. We see Zoe struggle with who she believes she needs to be, with her special needs brother, with her mother's diagnosis. On the other side, we see Sam struggle with her own identity, with her mother's obsessive personality, and with the fallout from her parents' divorce and her father's move. And it's only in the strange friendship between the two of them that either seem to find respite: in the land of make-believe they create, between the asterisks of text-conveyed actions.

*uses this as an example, in case the readers aren't familiar*
*spent way too much of my life talking like this*
*will stop now*

In their text adventures, they can escape the world around them--but only for a little while. And it's not long before the rest of the world starts to creep into their Starworld.

This is a refreshingly *real* YA novel, that could take easy ways out and doesn't, because the real world doesn't usually give you those options. There are hard decisions, mistakes made, messy endings. And when I was all set to be upset about how the book ends, we get the perfect epilogue to ease the way out of the book. It's touching and sad, it's hysterically funny and real, and if you've ever wanted to escape on the back of a burrito-eating dragon and fly away to a beach in the stars--well, you'll fit right in.

Rating: ****.5 - Very Highly Recommended
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A hopeful, sweet LGBTQ friendly story. I'm not normally a fan of contemporary, but I enjoyed this! Also, for some reason my feedback was never submitted though I distinctly remember writing it, but I did enjoy it!
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one of those stories that manages to suck you into its world and not leave you out of there until you finish it. really beautiful story, full of realness, bitterness, but still with the hopefulness. since I always talk about how we need more diversity, I need to mention that this book has a hell lot of it, from queer ones to mental health ones, which is fantastic. and it'll probably break you.. a couple of times.
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Thank you to NetGalley who approved my request to read and review this book and to the publisher who provided me a copy. In no way does the process of how I received this book, influence my opinion. 

I liked the whole Starworld created, that was different and really contributed to the text message, yet at one point I just skimmed through because there was a lot. Even though this was a proof copy, I hope they made the text messages in bold or a different font as there’s so much. I don’t think I’ve come across so much text messages in a novel unless it’s set in that format. It’s written in the first person, alternating between Sam and Zoe. The start was slow to get into things but once it did; it sucked me into the story and just waited for that moment that we all knew was coming, eventually. It came later. It took a while, and I thought they have revealed it through Starworld but the climax happened about 70% into the book. Everything else seemed to be added on. After the climax, everything dragged to a point where I was reading and thought the authors didn’t know what an ending to create so they just kept on writing. I don’t know how to feel about the ending, Sam deserved better than Zoe who’s so self-absorbed and most of the time just pity Sam. 

Which, brings me to my next point. The characters. I liked Sam Jones because she was plain and realistic. She had goals and dreams yet, didn’t have anyone to share with. She gave it her all. Starworld, Zoe and her mother. Even Zoe’s brother, Jonah to please Zoe because she knew it would’ve made her happy. Yet one thing that ticked me off and that I couldn’t get was how distant she was to her father. All the memories she’d share with him were happy and suddenly when her dad left she hates him? Assumptions without asking and when we finally meet the father, he’s understanding and way different to cliched parents who’ve divorced. The epilogue was written in Zoe’s perspective yet I wished it ended in Sam since it started with her. Same literally gave Zoe everything, the best birthday gifts, reasons to smile, entertainment, Starworld to escape in and a ride to school once in a while… she deserved better. Yet her ending seemed to be a new beginning for her in London? Illinois? I’m not sure.

Onto Zoe Miller who wasn’t all that as she’s described in the blurb and through Sam’s perspective. It’s the cliches part of the book. Perfectly, beautiful girl had problems… newsflash, everyone does. Zoe’s been through a lot, I get that but she made everything about her. At one point she wants to find her real parents which are fine but she compares literally everything! Whatever she does, she has to think who she adapted it from… her adoptive parents or biological parents. Also, spoiler alert, her real parents aren’t in the book if you’re wondering if she ever gets there. Also, she dated the hottest and most athletic guy, Hunter who was so sweet! I wish we’d seen more of him. They broke up too soon in the book and when she told Sam, it sort of implied to Sam that she’s no longer interested in Hunter but someone else. They spoke whenever they could and was there for each other. So I don’t blame Sam for kissing Zoe. Then Zoe wondered how she let her on… not a smart girl, she frustrated me so much. After the climax, she pitied Sam so much with, wait for it… ‘Oh, Sam’ almost every time like Sam was a little girl. 

I won’t go into the minor characters in such detail but Sam’s mother wasn’t the best mother and was self-fish. Her OCD was no excuse. Sam worked day and night to satisfy her mother’s needs and comply with a routine. She was afraid of what might happen if her mother lost it. It’s understandable that she cares, but no person goes through this, let alone a teenager girl by herself. The mother was no help either who was oblivious to her daughter’s life. It reached a point where Sam was afraid she might become like her mother. 

Onto, Jonah, Zoe’s brother. Not the best portrayal of an autistic character. There’s only bad moments and sacredness of how Jonah might react when he doesn’t get his way. Then the satisfying feeling of when he doesn’t hurt anyone. When he’s transferred to a facility, it became all about the family, not Jonah. Their emotions and when they visited him, Zoe realized things done there that they didn’t think of doing at home. Jonah seemed like an excuse for Zoe to deal with her mother having cancer and being adopted. I wish there were more real moments shared with him and the family where he’s treated normally and not where his disability is mentioned every page. 

So, back to why I liked this book. If I wasn’t going through what Sam went I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much. I would’ve been more critical and observant rather than relating and becoming emotional when Sam and Zoe became close. For once, I’ve read and enjoyed emotionally a story about two friends. I haven’t read a lot of books where it’s the main plot and I’m glad I came across this one. It made me realize that not everyone in permanent. Yes, you’ll go through many friends but it’s when you find that friend that changes your world and you guys become so close and inevitable that it feels like nothing can tear you two apart. Then something happens that changes everything and you realize how different you two are even though you’ve related. You realize that it will be okay with whatever happens because it’s the memories and how that person made you feel and how they were there for you. It’s okay if things don’t worry out or if you’re not close anymore and it’s fine if you pop in once in a while to check up on each other. Yet there’s still that feeling where one cares for the other more and that’s the worst because one always ends up heartbroken.
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I loved this book so much! I love Sam and Zoe and their friendship! That’s what this book is really about, is friendship. Well, and family. And how all relationships are complicated. But I love the themes of friendship and the importance of being seen and known and loved for who you are. 

Oh, and of course I loved star world, their fantasy world that they wrote together via text message.

And even though I received a free e-book from netgalley in exchange for review I ended up buying the audiobook and I love the audiobook version as well. I think I will want to read this again in the future.
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Starworld is a very sweet contemporary YA novel that I couldn't put down! 

Sam is artistic and likes to be by herself, while Zoe is popular and constantly surrounded by friends. They're not the type of girls who look like they'd be friends, but when Zoe asks Sam to lend her one of her paintings for the school play, they form an unlikely friendship ... and they form Starworld: a fictional world they can go to forget about their lives and be in peace. 

Sam's mother has OCD while Zoe's brother has Down syndrome, so they're both very stressed and need time for peace and quiet. Both girls lead a very stressful life and Starworld helps them deal with their problems. 

I adored this book but I can definitely see how the ending is not for everyone. I for one liked it. Highly recommend!
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