Title: Girl Against the Universe
Author: Paula Stokes
Genre: YA contemporary
Maguire is bad luck.
No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.
It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.
From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck.
Note: I received an ARC copy through a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by the author. Thank you Paula Stokes!
Recently, since I’ve started writing a YA novel myself, I’m critiquing first sentences, paragraphs and chapters more. I really liked how the beginning of this novel gives some imperative facts and yet is vague to the story.
There’s a thing that sometimes happens in your brain when you’re the only survivor of a horrific accident. Part of you is happy because you’re alive, but the rest of you is devastated. Then the sad part beats up the happy part until nothing is left, until all you feel is terrible sorrow for the people who didn’t make it. And guilt. Guilt because you wonder if the Universe made a mistake. Guilt because you know you’re not any better than those who died.
The first 4 chapters, starting in August, show only Maguire’s therapy sessions. We get to understand her past, her worry and her goal. The Universe and its events have taken a lot from her-mostly her life, and she wants to be able to do one thing without fear. She wants to reclaim her life.
Goal: Fly to Ireland in December.
But how? Slowly, with help from her family, friends and Jordy, she starts to alleviate her fears by stepping up and challenging herself.
The book never strayed from the main issue of Maguire and her fears.A lot of times, I’ve noticed that the female lead will forget everything and be fine with the male lead and heals only because of him, which is pretty unrealistic. Maguire, from joining the girls’ tennis team to going rock climbing, does everything by pushing herself and these normal activities bring her forward.
By the time I reached the end of the book, I was all mush inside. The ending me laugh with happiness and go awwwww. I really liked it, and I say this with a grin on my face.
Shall we talk about the characters?
- Maguire: In the beginning, I was pretty hesitant about her. But slowly, she came to life with small quirks and characteristics. The journey from hiding and being alone all the time to finally saying, “eff you Universe, I chose happiness and life.” (not verbatim) was beautiful. I like how she bloomed in five months.
- Jordy: The first thing that popped into my head when we get to know more about him was, “another cliched male character who is famous and has fangirls”. The thing that made me accept it? Him being that way for the problems portrayed, and not just to insert fame, money etc. He goes to therapy to find himself; merge Real Jordy and Tennis Jordy into one. He’s funny, supportive, a little sentimental and wholly teenager-ish; finding himself and looking for freedom.
- Penn: Jordy’s little sister and an amazing friend. Although she loves Jordy to bits, she’s overshadowed by his life and is trying not to be a disappointment to her parents.
- Jade: My MOST FAVOURITE CHARACTER. She’s funny, sarcastic some, blunt, caring and the perfect best friend. *insert jade-coloured heart here*
- Daniel Leed (Therapist): A close second to Jade. Usually we never know much about therapists, they’re just some inconsequential character who throws questions; not here. Another new thing in this book, the therapist being one of my favourite characters.
I was confused whether to give 4 or 4.5 stars. One, because I usually know enough difference to give either 4 or 5. But just for the ending, I wanted to rate it a bit higher.
Overall, a good light-hearted read. Recommended to basically everyone.
Releasing May 17th, ’16.