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Loneliest Girl in the universe - review

Lonely is hard, really hard, when you realise there is literally NO ONE to talk to, ever... what would you do?

I'd imagine some of us would literally shrivel up and lie down and insignificantly go mad and die.
Some would talk, but..who to? Themselves? AI or similar? Is that a conversation or a vocal thought?

Well, Romy is alone, very alone, she has been for at least 3 years, more like 6 really and it's not going to get any better.
She literally is alone and she knows it and yet, she is fine, mostly...

She is a typical 16 year old, finding herself and her feelings, trying to be educated when she feels like it, sort of keeping fit and relatively eating well. But, she is alone, all alone.

No friends, no family, no school, no life as such, because she is the possibly last girl alive in the universe...
Apart from her new best friend, a distant and yet omnipresent boy called J, just J.

She is Commander Romy Silvers of the NASA ship of humanity stored for a new Earth, 'Infinity' but that's not a Buzz word...
He is Commander J of the newer faster ship, 'Eternity'. I wonder if there was a satellite called 'Hope' in between launches...

So, we find out, Romy has only very delayed emails and audio clips from NASA back on Earth and her scientist and psychologist friend, Molly.
Until she is told that J and his ship are now on their way to dock and travel together to the new Earth, with cryogenic-ally frozen embryos and shrink-wrapped food and supplies to populate the habitable haven they head for. Each message sent technically takes in real terms a year to arrive and be replied to, it creates quite a feeling of suspense and even dread as we often just don't know what is actually happening back home and indeed on J's ship. He's alone too...

They soon become friends by proxy and seem to even be relaxing into a very long distance relationship, with untold feelings starting to surface and maybe cause worry, if you've never seen or touched another person and therefore held them or kissed them, how would you feel? Do you even think you know? I doubt it!

Romy fixates on him and dreams and starts plucking her eyebrows and other such trivial preening, but, why wouldn't she...

Suddenly there are no more emails from Molly, there has been a war and the whole world seems to be perilously close to being extinct, only the now supreme and very sinsiter UTR send messages to Infinity and they are imposing regimes that Romy is starting to really suffer from.

She and J swap work as they still need to fly and keep their ships safe and watch the same TV a wonderful sounding Buffy type thing called 'Loch and Ness' with fairy tale detectives, like creatures from real fairy tales. She even writes fan fiction which alludes to her feelings and transposes J to Jayden the hero of the TV series.

There is a savage brutality in the narrative, it really does feel like we are alone and stuck in the ship with Romy, it's very well done. I am throwing a little cliche into my review, there is little cliche in the book, it's very original. There is believable physics and very believable future plot, many of us will have fears of an all out nuclear war and what might ensue, would we choose to fly to the stars and risk everything for a new beginning, one thing about Romy, she is a true survivor, she is destined to be someone special.

The time frame works well, we get snippets of time passing a countdown to contact, one that they both really want, J's ship is faster and is literally catching up... they'll dock and meet and become....the future?

Weirdly, it's sort of more about the past... but you need to read it to see what I mean...

We do find out bits about her mum and dad and what happened to the other astronauts, what the stasis and torpor are and more, much more.

Like all good suspenseful dramas the tension ramps up like a tourniquet tightening, it's vice like in it's intensity of emotional drain and then there are adrenaline floods of energy. Lauren does something very clever, she takes simplicity and adds something more, she adds a sort of dreadful macabre knowing, something like classic Hitchcock. You don't need lots of characters or action to make something happen, you just need timing and description and she does it all impeccably.

The backstory of Earth is slightly untold, but as the two main characters know they'll never see it again or ever meet anyone who was there... that's fine. The mysteries we see unfold are weaved with a flourish of Christie like magic of deceptive we should have seen it...

There is exactly enough empathy and emotion for the teens this is aimed at, but there is more for those wanting and willing to be taken further.

I also like the fact that there is a sort of unnerving of us as we read, it is like when you watch the gory slasher films and classic alien stuff like erm Alien, it has that feel.... You do jump and as we said, no one can hear you or anyone else scream, because there is no one else, just you and maybe Romy. Or J... or ?

It is a very very good book, Lauren is in Preston at UCLAN on Feb 18th for a free talk/discussion try and go...
I am lucky, she is then with me at a school..so I can meet her and get signed copies and also of her other books...

£6 each and as always free delivery... go on, I won't tell anyone...there is no one to tell...