[Starstruck] S.E. Anderson

Starstruck is the first book that I received through The Book Robin Hoods, a group of authors and reviewers started by M.C. Frank. More information on my own involvement may be found here and here.

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Sally’s life is not going according to plans. A college dropout, she’s barely able to hold down a steady job and keep a roommate to help pay the rent. When Sally loses her job, it seems like everything is going from bad to worse––culminating in her hitting someone with her car. But it’s not just any someone. He happens to be an alien. She beyond relieved when there seems to be no lasting damage, and she thinks this weird encounter is the last of it. But when he calls her to bail her out of jail, she realizes that hitting him with her car was only the beginning. Starstruck is a fun and fast-paced read that keeps the reader engaged in the story as Sally tries to figure out where she fits into this larger universe that’s suddenly open to her.

Zander is the other main character in Starstruck, and the main cause of Sally’s woes. Although Zander looks human, he still has a lot to learn about being human. I really enjoyed the chaos that he caused in Sally’s life because of that; I loved reading how she had to teach him how to wear clothes properly and the socially accepted way of bathing. It was entertaining to read. I liked that he didn’t instinctively know what to do.

Was there a handbook that could tell me what to do next? There were thousands of books that taught parenting; I was pretty sure there wasn’t a self-help book about alien roommates. If there was, it was probably about abductees, not subletters.

S.E. Anderson’s writing was great. I felt like the humor was genuine and I enjoyed the mixups that sometimes occurred between Sally and Zander. The words and the story flowed together nicely, giving the reader a fully coherent story that had me curious about the larger world contained but not explained. It looks like the next books in the series will be about this world that S.E. Anderson created. I was glad that the book was focused like this. It made the book more detailed because it focused on one place instead of focusing on it all at once.

I thought that S.E. Anderson created a really good protagonist in Sally. She had a great voice and personality that I enjoyed following. The way that the story was told was also slightly different than what I’m used to; it was a combination of Sally looking back on her past, asides to the reader, and current events in the novel. Sally’s earnestness made the story really enjoyable. She was very grounded in her reality even when the world was becoming more complicated.

Look, you can’t take people off their planet willy-nilly. It’s called alien abduction, and is frowned upon in the most respectable circles.

I loved how S.E. Anderson handled the idea of aliens existing in the world. For a lot of science fiction novels, authors often go down the route where the protagonist leaves Earth and never returns. In Starstruck, that was not the case. Sally didn’t just up and leave when she learned about Zander and the existence of aliens. She was skeptical of it all, even when she had proof right in front of her. I liked that she didn’t 100% accept it. I liked that she questioned it. Sometimes in books like these, the protagonist is of the mindset where no one cares about her enough to miss her, so her galavanting across the world (or universe) isn’t a big deal. Most of the science fiction young adult novels that I’ve read go this route. I loved that Starstruck didn’t. It was a sci-fi set on Earth (an urban sci-fi? I’m not sure if that’s a genre) which made it unique in my eyes. 

Any book that mentions Firefly immediately gets points.

The novel also embraced its nerdiness which was awesome. There were mentions of various science fiction shows throughout the novel like little Easter eggs. I also loved the chapter titles. They’re not often used in the books I read, so I liked that they were included. They were cute and gave little hints about what would be contained in the chapter but didn’t spoil anything. I hope they continue in the next book.

My only criticism about the book is the lack of supporting characters. I wish that more time had been spent with Marcy, Sally’s best friend. There was a good portion in the beginning where Sally was worried about her friendship with Marcy, but then that worry seemed to fade into the background. I understand that knowing things about aliens and how Earth is a moment away from being destroyed can be a little stressful, but Marcy disappeared completely. Although I do think that S.E. Anderson dropped hints about where her character will go in the future. I hope that my guesses turn out to be correct! I feel similarly about Matt and how he wasn’t as fleshed out as I wanted him to be. He was a love interest, then went away for a little bit, and then reappeared when it was convenient. Personally, I feel like his character arc was a little unfair. I would have liked it to go differently, because parts of it seemed too convenient. I like developed side characters, so my small complaint is minor compared to what I liked about the book.

Ultimately I really enjoyed Starstruck and am interested in reading more from the series. But I also really like that it ends in a way that could be the ending, should I not get my hands on the next novel. I always feel pressured to continue a book series when it leaves off on a cliffhanger that makes it impossible to not read the rest of the series. I don’t feel that way about Starstruck. I recommend it for readers who like light and entertaining science fiction novels. It was very fun to read and I loved the voice of the main character and the voice that S.E. Anderson has crafted for herself as an author.

4 stars.

I received a copy of Starstruck from the author through The Book Robin Hoods in exchange for an honest review. If you are a book blogger / reviewer or author interested in connecting with a supportive author / reviewer community, The Book Robin Hoods may be something for you! Check out M.C. Frank’s social media pages (fb, tw, and ig) for more information.

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