Cover for Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

About the Book

Title: Starry Eyes
Published: 2018
Swoonworthy Scale: 9

Cover Story: Fireside Chat
BFF Charm: Yay!
Talky Talk: Straight Up With A Swoony Twist
Bonus Factors: Diversity, Camping?!, Astronomy
Relationship Status: #1 On My To-Do List

Cover Story: Fireside Chat

This cover makes camping look downright charming; if it were me on there, it would include a lot of bug spray, mosquito bite welts, and a general look of despair. Take note, because this will be a theme.

The Deal:

Zorie and Lennon used to be best friends, until he stood her up at homecoming. Now, even though they’re neighbors, they avoid each other like the plague. He’s an odd duck anyway—a gothy sort who loves reptiles and has no problem with the embarrassing sex shop his moms own—so she’s totally better off.

As luck would have it, though, Lennon and Zorie end up on the same backpacking trip. Zorie is in it for the star-gazing potential, and Lennon…well, who knows why he’s going? Mysterious Reptile-Raising Dudes don’t have to explain themselves. Besides, Zorie is interested in another guy on the trip…and if that makes Lennon jealous, so much the better.

When it all goes wrong and their not-so-merry band of friends abandons them in the wilderness, though, the two are forced to work together—and perhaps work through their issues—if they want to get back to civilization.

BFF Charm: Yay!

Yay BFF Charm

I adore Zorie, who is a detailed, anxiety-ridden planner like me. The fact that she’s a junior astronomer only makes her cooler. Then, of course, she is absolutely opposed to camping, also like me, so I believe we would get along just fine, from the comforts of our bug-proof couches, in enclosed, sturdy structures.

Swoonworthy Scale: 9

Look, if you’re not reading Jenn Bennett’s books already, I don’t know what to do with you. Hands down, she is my favorite YA contemporary romance author; her books are sweet and sex-positive, with characters who respect each other and get enthusiastic consent. On top of that, they’re just hot. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but while not graphic in the least, this book did more to make me consider camping than the years of complaining/begging/guilt tripping from my more outdoorsy significant others.

Talky Talk: Straight Up With A Swoony Twist

Bennett’s characters and dialogue are always a treat; she writes with warmth and authenticity, and seamlessly creates multi-layered characters whose inner lives are just as complex as yours and mine. Her teenagers are self-centered, as many people are at that age, but inevitably discover that the people around them are fighting their own battles and keeping their own secrets. They often deal with mental illness, betrayal, and all of the curveballs that life throws our way. That character growth is a great deal of why I love Bennett’s books so much.

Bonus Factor: Diversity

Faces of all different races, ethnicities and genders.

The diversity in this book is a pretty natural representation of life, especially in San Francisco: the non-white, non-heterosexual characters are abundant. (Lennon, in particular, has a very interesting family background.)

Bonus Factor: Camping?!

At night, a tent and fire in a clearing surrounded by woods

I am extremely indoorsy, so when I say that I put this book down and thought, “Huh. Maybe camping doesn’t sound so bad after all,” that’s basically the equivalent to Nicholas Sparks putting a non-white or straight main character in his books…you never thought it’d happen. Do I want to be abandoned by my peers and forced to seek shelter and civilization? No. Do I like the idea of being out with a hot dude under the stars, having to huddle for warmth? SIGN ME UP.

Bonus Factor: Astronomy

Silhouette of person standing under starry sky

I can’t remember the last time I read a YA novel where the characters had an interest in astronomy, so this was fun and refreshing.

Relationship Status: #1 On My To-Do List

Here’s the plan, book: when I make my Sexy Camping packing checklist (oh you know I have one), I’m putting you at the top, along with some survival guides and every other conceivable item one could possibly need. Was I skeptical that you could make me love camping? Sure, but then you dangled “gothy reptile king/former boy scout love/hate relationship” in front of me, and, well, the rest is between you, me, and the bears lurking behind every tree. OH MY GOD, WHAT WAS THAT SOUND?!

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. This review was originally posted on Kirkus Reviews in exchange for monetary compensation, which did not affect or influence my opinions. Starry Eyes is available now.