Cover Image: The Gravity of Us

The Gravity of Us

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Member Reviews

I loved this book so much! It was really sweet, authentic, and heart-wrenching. The relationship that builds between Cal and Leon is so realistic. Cal the perky over planner, and Leon the quiet one struggling with depression. It wasn’t perfect, but it was real and felt genuine.

I appreciated that the queer aspect of their relationship wasn’t part of any of the drama. That wasn’t what made them important. They didn’t struggle with that part of their identities, and the people around them accepted their relationship without question or surprise, I thought that was very refreshing.

The only slightly cheesy thing was how vulnerable and almost child-like Cal’s parents were, throwing tantrums, storming off to their bedroom in tears when Cal gets all the attention. It was like Cal was the adult taking care of THEM. But just because that wasn’t my experience growing up doesn’t mean there aren’t parents like that. It was part of what made Cal the person he was.

Overall, this was a wonderful, inspiring story that I found really, really enjoyable. I can’t wait to read more from this author!
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I really wanted to love this book more than I did. There's a lot that is positive that other reviewers have highlighted, mainly that the space exploration premise is interesting, and queer/ownvoices representation. I feel like all the elements were there to create something really fantastic, but it was off somehow. Mainly I wasn't a huge fan of the lack of development in the two main characters relationship, and some of the pacing felt clunky and off and there was more showing versus telling. 

That being said, I would still recommend this book, because of the representation and premise, and some of it is a just me thing.
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This is not entirely without its faults: Some of the pacing felt a bit clunky, it might've been a little insta-lovey, but honestly? It's probably because of how much this books packs into its pages.

As someone who is giving both YA and romance another shot after being wholly unimpressed by those genres for YEARS, I remain shocked when I enjoy a YA romance-y story. This one is very cute. The added space stuff helps, and I really enjoyed those bits the most. I actually found all the drama in the story to be really good and helpful to move the story along. I loved seeing characters grow and change within the story, something that I don't think is handled very deftly in a lot of the YA stories I've read, but Phil Stamper handles it beautifully.

Anyway...Space stuff. Gay relationships. Drama. Science. Reality TV. Great friendships. Anxiety and depression rep that isn't forced. OwnVoices author. What are you waiting for?

I'll definitely be watching Phil Stamper. I can't wait to see what he does next.

ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
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against the backdrop of a race to mars that echoes the early astronauts' race to the moon, the boys in the gravity of us are caught up in their parents' ambitions to join one of the chosen few on the mission. but in modern times, no competition like this would be complete without a reality tv crew.

cal is a high school-aged street journalist, who takes his career seriously, and who has no intention of giving over his news channel to some trashy tv conglomerate. the move to houston from brooklyn is begrudging and he has every intention of leaving all things mars behind as soon as possible. he doesn't believe all that much in his dad's ability to succeed and until he meets the astronauts and scientists who are working so hard to achieve their goal, he doesn't really believe in the project.

leon has his own struggles, namely depression and a sense of aimlessness that makes cal a little twitchy. from the get-go, the boys share a spark, but they need to figure out how to maneuver their baggage.

this debut is just a sweet, swoony ride. there's such hopefulness even as the characters handle deeper and darker things, you can't help feel awestruck after reading.

**the gravity of us will publish on february 4, 2020. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/bloomsbury ya in exchange for my honest review.
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This was a cute book, it was really nothing special for me just your run of the mill YA romance. I did like the characters and had no problem with the story, just like I said, it did not do much for me.
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I'm literally in love with this book. Only about 1/4th of the way did I realize I couldn't stop reading The Gravity of Us, and I was okay with it. The audio book is also very incredible. The author is visual, heartfelt, and gives out the nitty-gritty raw realities of life. Sometimes parents fight, some pretend it's all perfect and others give up. Abuse is real, as well  as being in love only as  a teenager. This book shows the joy and struggles of figuring out what life can bring you and the importance of not giving up on your dreams--or the beauty of finding new ones. 

I definitely recommend The Gravity of Us for any lover of romance or those who are struggling to find a bit of themselves in this world.

#Netgalley #ARC
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Cal is a super successful social media journalist with over half a million followers—but when his pilot father is selected to train as one of the astronauts heading to Mars, he and his family are uprooted from Brooklyn to Houston and thrown into a media circus. But Cal's family isn't like the astronauts on the reality TV show that NASA has become. His family is messy. And then he meets quiet, mysterious Leon.

I enjoyed this mainly because NASA and the way the book explored human relationships and social media.

The science shit was super fucking cool, and I absolutely loved reading about astronaut training and scientists and dirt and antennas and water and everything else involved with exploring and surviving in long-term space missions.

I also liked how relationships were explored, how everyone has a public and a private face (sometimes more than one of each), and how these interact and play with how people are performing at any given time.

Who is watching? What is their motive? Why are we here? What is our purpose?

These are questions that are always being asked by Cal—except, of course, when this arrogant little shit inexplicably decides to trust rando people for reasons.

Fuck I hated Cal.

He was a shallow, self-absorbed little shit who did exactly what StarWatch (it's been a minute so I think that's what the reality tv place was called) did and yet tried to justify his actions against himself. Granted, he's still a kid, but that's doesn't entirely excuse his actions. He minimized Leon's hurt to further his own gains, and continually turned Leon's very real mental health worries towards his own concerns. And he diminished his best friend's pain and constantly turned the attention and spotlight back to himself—and when he didn't he still martyred himself by saying that he was a journalist and did the interviewing not the answering.

And yet.

Okay, Cal does grow up a little in the end.

But still.

Kid's a turd.

So why the four stars?

Again—~space~ and also the science, and because of the human relationships portrayed in this book, and how people are manipulated and used and pressured to behave certain ways to project a certain Image.

Unlike a lot of YA books where the protagonist turns away from his parents to reach independence and learn to become an adult, where teen friends and love interests take a bit part of the page time, this is a story where Cal is already fiercely independent. He's a fixer (good gravy if I had to read him talking about "fixing" something one more fucking time; dude is literally Jane Austen's Emma)—of his parents, of NASA, of his friends—even if he's not a very good fixer.

Instead of retaining his fierce independence and moving away from his broken family, Cal becomes closer to them and realizes that his dad is actually pretty cool and his mom is awesome too. There were positive mental health depictions in this book, although the magical rebonding and lack of fighting of his parents when they moved to Houston was a little much and a little too sudden. Cal's mom had anxiety, and Leon was struggling with his depression.

Speaking of Leon—I wish that he had more page time as a person instead of a love interest or someone to be fixated upon by Cal. Dude was incredible. A gymnast with Olympic potential who had lost his heart for it amidst the social media and his depression, who didn't need to be fixed or treated like he was broken but also as his own person. I wish that the book had gone into some sort of discussion of how it must have been like for Leon to be an Olympic level gymnast with brown skin, but it was never brought up.

Anywho, I did love that being gay wasn't a damn issue at all (although Cal mentioned that Houston wasn't ready for him, it was more his Brooklyn fashion sense than his being gay). Cal and Leon's relationship was treated as normal and mundane, which was a breath of fresh air.

Overall, despite Cal being a dickwad, I really, really enjoyed this book.

Because NASA and science and Mars. And because it really was cute as hell.

AND BECAUSE CAL'S PARENTS ACTED LIKE ACTUAL MILLENNIAL PARENTS AND NOT THE AUTHOR'S OWN PARENTS.

So. Fucking. Refreshing.

(okay, this might be half the reason why this book has four stars, lol)

And because's Cal's dad was a really good pilot. Just because you're messy doesn't mean you're not fantastic or willing to get better. It just means you're human.

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
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DNF -- this is a case of "it's half me, half you..." I read until 50% before giving up because my main issue with the book is the slow pacing. It felt like every chapter comprised of 20% Cal complaining about the situation, 20% stressing about something, 20% recapping what happened before, and then 40% the little bit of plot that would happen. 

Cal's situation is a big deal--I would not have coped well as a teenager to being uprooted like he was. But the conflict does not get that more interesting, at least not by over a third of the book. He's also pretty self-centered, at least when it comes to his friendships. The romance angle took off very quickly after some teenage insta-lust, but did not feel organic. The astronaut plot was mostly taken over by social media/the reality TV show aspect.

I had been looking forward to this ownvoices queer story. Unfortunately, the plodding pacing and unremarkable plot overshadowed any good, and this was a miss for me.
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Cal has his life all figured out. As a top influencer on StarWatch, he’s got an internship lined up at Buzzfeed and his future career all figured out. When his father is chosen to be a potential NASA pilot on their mission to Mars, Cal is uprooted from his NYC life and into an unknown world in Houston. In this new environment, he has to deal with a bigger media spotlight but he finds some new friends and a potential romance with fellow “Astrokid” Leon. The Gravity of Us is a thrilling fish-out-of-water story and an adorable romance.

I really liked Cal as a character. I felt that he was definitely fleshed out and could be relatable for readers. Though the book was only in Cal’s point of view, I also really liked Leon. I think Leon was one of my favourite characters and the representation of his depression will resonate with many readers. The family dynamic between Cal and his parents was also interesting. They weren’t the closest family unit but I liked the growth they all displayed over the course of the novel. The characters all felt real and I could tell that Stamper gave them all the care they needed.

Of course, the romance between Cal and Leon was super adorable! It was a bit fast-paced and had a smidge of instalove but I wasn’t too mad about it. I think their romance was just genuine and adorable and I could definitely see many readers loving it.

I think The Gravity Between Us is a solid debut that I’d recommend for fans of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda or any contemporary YA fan!
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Thank you to Netgalley & Bloomsbury YA for providing me with a copy of The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper in exchange for an honest review!

— uhhhhhhhh, a LGBTQIA+ read that has elements of space?!?! NASA?!?!? MARS?!?! Reader, Phil Stamper had me from the very beginning. ALSO, THAT COVER? HELLO, AESTHETICALLY PLEASING BOOK.

Now that I got that out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty & the gritty. The Gravity of Us is piled with representation — Cal is our bisexual lead (correct me if I’m wrong on that!) and his love interest, Leon, has depression.

I absolutely loved diving into Cal Jr.’s life, a popular Flashfame streamer who’s goal is to deliver raw and unbiased news. I’m a sucker for anything that focuses on modern-day technology/internet fads. We get to witness our protagonist in his battle against the channel, StarWatch, and the host of Shooting Stars, Josh Farrow. Farrow will definitely annoy the heck out of you & you’ll definitely be rooting for Cal Jr. the entire time.

It took me a while to get behind the concept of Cal and Leon because it did feel insta-lovey to me & I’m a sucker for the slow-burn. As soon as Cal sees Leon, he’s automatically drawn to him. This is a me preference because I do understand that insta-crushes are a real thing, however, I love when ships cause me to suffer & all that jazz. But, as with most YA Contemporaries, there is a minor conflict for the ship — because, ya know, it just has to happen.

As for the plot, I’m 100% here for everything that happened in The Gravity of Us. It’s a pretty short read (according to Bookly, it took me 3 hours & 15 minutes to read), so definitely worth the time spent. Phil Stamper’s writing was really chill, and everything flowed well. I also love the in-between chapter breaks, where we get a glimpse into an episode of the reality program, Shooting Stars.

The Gravity of Us is a book that I’m comfortable recommending to lovers of YA Contemporaries. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for future Phil Stamper books.
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RATING: 3/5 STARS

This book has a unique premise, which is what drew me to request it to review. THE GRAVITY OF US highlights space exploration, reality TV, and social media celebrity in a LGBT YA story about first love. I was really excited about these elements. However, overall there was something lacking for me in this read. I liked Cal and Leon's scenes, but I didn't really feel any true tension or chemistry between them. Their relationship lacked build-up and had an insta-love flavor. However, positives of this book include tight writing, well-fleshed out supporting characters, and good discussion about mental health. 

A sincere thanks to Bloomsbury YA for providing an advanced reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Social: @_shelf.awareness on Instagram
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I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Okay, so I was not planning on publishing this review the day after I finished The Gravity of Us, but I have to get all my thoughts out right now! This book is EVERYTHING to me! From the drama, space, love, and everything in between. Honestly, this book has probably gone to the top as one of my all-time favorite books.

I was lucky enough to get an Advanced Readers Copy thanks to NetGalley.

From the start, Cal Jr. was an interesting character, an inspiring 17-year-old journalist. The writing style of the book had me intrigued and made Cal seem so real, I could picture him in real life (But who is to say books are not real life?). I’ve never been to New York but the way Stamper described, it sounds like my kind of place.

Of course, things change when Cal Sr. gets accepted into the space program heading to Mars. Cal Jr.’s life is turned upside down when he whisked away from busy New York to quite Crystal Lake, Texas. Texas was where Cal’s life really began where he found Leon his friend and soon to be boyfriend and his sister Kat.

NASA is trying to bring back the image of the perfect astronaut life of the sixties, but hey it is not the sixties anymore! Then StarWatch (which I personally despise) is brought in to dramatize the whole thing. Think of it was bravo and real housewives/families of the space project. That was the vibe I was getting.

The mission has it’s ups and downs from plane crashes, to satellites blowing up, and even an astronaut dying. But that is the risk that the world takes when trying to reach Mars. But during it, all StarWatch only wanted to bring down NASA and the program after what Cal did (read the book to figure out what that was).

The relationship between Cal and Leon is beautiful and ugh so cute. It seems that the stars aligned to bring them both there at the right time. They needed each other at that moment, and it made the book even more touching. I can not get enough of this book!

The Gravity of Us touching on everything from anxiety, depression, losing and meeting new friends, and not being sure of what is going to happen next. I would say this book accurately describes life. While I would usually say I want another book with these characters, I think where the story ended was perfect. Of course, I would love another book with Cal, Leon, and the gang. But if not, the ending was so satisfying.

So if you like space, LGBTQ+ love, and really anything then The Gravity of Us is for you. There was something that spoke to me about the cover and the description, and oh man and I glad I picked it up! You should too!
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I was expecting something in the realm of a doomsday scenario or a coverup given the description including "secrets about the ulterior motive of the program". I was pleased to find it took a different path. I liked the focus on the role reality tv in a governmental program, the toxic influence of ratings drives on serious scientific endeavor. I liked the exploration of finding ways to use an imperfect system to it's most positive effect. That's really what this book is about, seeing elements of your life from new perspectives and changing your approach.
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Seventeen-year-old Cal is perfectly okay with his life in Brooklyn: social media success on FlashFame sure to set him up with a journalism career & hanging with his best friend/ex girlfriend Deb, listening to cassettes and dreaming of being out on their own. His whole life is uprooted when his dad tells Cal and his mom that he's been accepted to be an astronaut for NASA's new team which hopes to explore Mars. The whole mission is being recorded by a TV network, and, suddenly, Cal is worried that his imperfect family will be too reality for reality TV. Cal reluctantly goes to Texas with no expectations of being able to continue his FlashFame success. He also doesn't expect to fall for the hot but sullen Leon Tucker. And when things start to implode between NASA and the television network, can Cal's social media skills save the mission? Read Stamper's debut to find out! I enjoyed this quick read that didn't overload me with science and space facts and actually explored some real issues that teens face. Stamper does a great job of making the narrator feel real.
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I absolutely loved the premise of this book - an insider look at the crew and preparations for the first NASA mission to Mars as told through the eyes of the son, Cal,  of an astronaut. I also enjoyed the social media component as Cal shows his followers and the world what goes on behind the scenes. 

I wanted to like the romance between Cal and Leon and sometimes I did but about halfway through the book that part became too angsty and shallow for me. The romance seemed to develop very quickly with little basis and the interactions between the two seemed repetitive and not very deep. Also, I couldn’t really wrap my head around some of Cal’s incredibly selfish  thoughts and behavior toward Leon as well as his friend, Deb. 

Overall however, I think the story will hold great appeal for young adults. It is well-written and fast-paced with believable characters, a heady romance and the lure of cutting edge science, outer space and a mission to Mars!
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Phil Stamper’s debut novel, The Gravity of Us, has been hyped as one of the most anticipated LGBTQ YA books of the year on just about every list out there, as well as being promoted heavily by his peers; and after finishing it, I can certainly see why. The story is lovely and thought-provoking, with an original premise, and tons of relatable situations and topics to pull teens in. Readers will not only cheer for Cal’s triumphs, but will be drawn in by both Cal and Leon’s everyday struggles as well. Stamper covers a lot of ground, including family dynamics, the importance of friendships, first love, anxiety and depression, the responsibility of the media—in particular, those outlets and networks that cover reality shows—and the power of social media in today’s world.

Cal Lewis is a seventeen-year-old aspiring journalist from Brooklyn, who has gained almost half a million followers on his FlashFame account by posting live videos covering everything from current affairs to his popular regular segment giving recommendations on cool things to do around the city. Cal’s followers seem to love his take on the major news stories the most, though, particularly his coverage on NASA’s Orpheus project. However, Cal is worried about how much he’s disappointed everyone by pulling back on his reports after finding out his dad had applied to be one of the astronauts to man Orpheus V’s mission to Mars.

When Cal’s dad is chosen, and the family has to pick up and move to Clear Lake, Texas, immediately, Cal is angry and devastated. He doesn’t want to leave Brooklyn, or his best friend Deb, and he certainly doesn’t want to have to give up posting his videos, which it looks like he might be forced to do, given NASA’s deal with StarWatch, who produce a reality show all about the project and the astronauts and their families. He also doesn’t think his family will fit in with the other families. His parents have been doing nothing but fight lately, his mom has crippling anxiety, and his dad just isn’t on the same level as the other highly talented people who have been chosen. After just a couple of days in Texas, though, and meeting a certain cute neighbor and fellow “astrokid,” Cal finds himself wondering if it’s maybe not going to be so bad after all.

I loved the evolution of Cal’s character in the book. Especially the way the things he learns about NASA, and his dad’s love of the space program, start to make him see his dad in a new light. His relationship with Leon also teaches him so much about himself, including the fact that you can’t always “fix” everything, especially people. Sometimes you need to give people the space to figure things out for themselves. I also appreciated Stamper’s open discussion of mental health issues. It’s so important to keep giving space to characters with anxiety and depression in books, TV, and movies. I wish more had been said about Leon getting help with his depression, but therapy was talked about with regard to Cal’s mom, so that was good at least.

The romance between Cal and Leon was sweet, if perhaps a bit too quick, and I also loved so much the friendship between the two of them and Leon’s sister. But I really think my favorite thing about the book was the growth of Cal’s relationship with this dad. I loved when the two of them banded together toward the end to try to save the day, so to speak. And, I really did love all the NASA, history, space nerd stuff, too!

All in all, this was a super fun story, and a great own-voices debut from Stamper. I hope to see much more from him in the future!
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I generally enjoy alternate universe stories, and I found <i>The Gravity of Us</i>'s world compelling--where there's a renowned interested in space exploration and NASA, but it comes with reality TV of the astronauts and their families and a false sense of nostalgia in the 60s. Cal, the main character, is popular on an Instagram-like streaming app and fashions himself as a truth-telling journalist, so an obvious conflict of interest arises when his dad becomes the newest astronaut. This commentary, and a savvy social media journalist teen, engaged and grounded me as a reader.

The biggest strength of this book for me--and this comes with quite a bit of personal bias--is the development of the relationship between Cal and Leon. Cal has anxiety, and Leon has depression. To prevent their relationship from getting toxic, they have important conversations that was great to see modeled in YA (as someone who needed that when I was that age), like how Cal shouldn't kiss Leon just to make him feel better. Cal's overall mentality of needing to fix and plan everything is something presented as understandable but that he needs to work on. Cal's mom is also anxious and recovering from grief, and she's a lovely character.

I did find the pacing a bit odd. The book isn't that long, and the eventual turns of the plot felt like they happened abruptly, as well as some aspects of the relationship, despite efforts to acknowledge that. As a result, the stakes didn't feel quite as high as they needed to be for maximum impact.

I also feel compelled to comment that Leon is apparently from Indiana, from "the suburbs"...of Indianapolis? It doesn't specify. He talked about corn, which is accurate, but anyone can do that. I learned a lot about Leon's inner life with his depression and his unsureness about pursuing gymnastics, but his background was hazy. And this is mainly questionable because it's also mentioned he has "dark brown" skin, but no evidence of any cultural history or perspective--especially as a queer kid--is in the text. I'm not really the best to criticize this, but it reminded me of <a href="https://medium.com/@ashiamonetb/queer-love-interests-of-color-and-the-white-gaze-8928b7b5e6ad">this article</a>, so I thought I would bring it up here. At the very least, I can tell you that Leon has a very different history growing up as probably one of the few kids of color in a suburb in Indiana AND as a queer kid in Indiana, compared to Cal in Brooklyn. It feels little frustrating when we know so much about Cal's past
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The Gravity of Us was a solid debut, mixing a teen love story with the drama of social media hype and reality TV coverage as well as a high-stakes scientific project. I related to Cal's feelings about his sudden move to Texas since I went through the same experience when I was younger. His romance with Leon was sweet and sensitive in the way it handled Leon's depression and its impact on how they navigate their relationship. Cal's use of social media for his journalistic endeavors felt timely, and the political elements of the book were rendered with realism. The developments of Orpheus V, the space mission, felt impactful on both a personal and societal level, and I couldn't help but root for its success in the face of its many obstacles, technical and sociopolitical. I also enjoyed the way the various relationships in Cal's life were portrayed and developed: his friendship with Deb, his strained relationship with his parents due to their arguments, and his genuine and passionate engagement with his social media followers and the media. The ending was scenic and brimming with hope; though a crewed Mars mission isn't yet a reality yet, this book makes a good case for its future.
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I really enjoyed this book! It was a solid read and I loved the LGBT romance, though it was slightly insta-love-y. My favorite part though was the ins and outs of the (fake) social media platform and the intricacies of the NASA mission. I think it could have done a little bit more there and with the motivations behind the reality show portion, but not mad. Lots of likeable characters here.
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The Gravity of Us is a beautiful queer love story and I’m so glad I had a chance to read an e-arc provided by NetGalley.
Cal is a social media influencer living in Brooklyn when his whole family is suddenly uprooted and moved to Houston when his pilot dad gets picked to be an astronaut in training for a mission to Mars. Not only is his whole life being moved, but he is told he can no longer post to social media because there is a reality show being filmed about the astronauts. Cal doesn’t follow that rule for very long, and that starts conflict with the filming team.
In Houston he meets Leon, another kid of one of the astronauts. Leon’s mother is competing for the same role in the Mars mission as Cal’s dad as well. Cal and Leon quickly fall for each other, but they each have several personal issues to work through to make a relationship successful. 
 I adored the mental health representation in this book. I appreciated the acknowledgement that love doesn’t heal mental illness. I also loved how well the story kept me on my toes, there were tons of twists I didn’t see coming. I enjoyed the reality TV show angle, I could definitely see a network airing a show like StarWatch.
The one criticism I have is that it was very insta-love. Other than that, this book was practically perfect.
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