Book Review | Starstruck by Cyn Balog

  • Pages: 256
  • Publisher: Ember
  • Genre: YA, Supernatural, Romance

Life isn’t easy Gwendolyn “Dough” Reilly – her family is struggling with its small New Jersey bakery in a town full of millionaires, and people at her school don’t seem to know she exists. When her long-distance boyfriend, Wish, moves back home after three years away, she’s nervous – she’s gained a lot of weight since they last saw each other, while Wish has apparently morphed into a blond god. Convinced that Wish will dump her the minute he lays eyes on her, Dough puts off their reunion as long as she possibly can.

But something amazing happens when they finally meet: Wish looks at Dough as if she’s just as gorgeous as he is. He’s acting a little weird, though: he’s obsessed with the sun and freaked out by rain. The creepy new guy working with Dough at the bakery tells her that Wish’s tiny star tattoo marks him as a member of he Luminati, an ancient cult of astrologers who can manipulate the stars to improve their lives. Dough isn’t sure what to believe. Are Dough and Wish meant to be together – or are they star-crossed?

I was compelled to buy this book, simply because of how interesting the premise was. I wanted to like this book so much, but that’s not what happened. I found Dough’s constant barrage of criticisms of her body and self-loathing too much too handle, although it may be realistic with how some teenagers feel about themselves – especially in a society where we are constantly put on pressure to be slim. With that being said, the way she has come to be more confident in her own skin felt a bit forced and it’s quite awkward – her personal growth did not come from her realizing that she is more than what she appears to be, and that she has so much more power over her own life -rather it came from her feeling like she looks better. There isn’t much substance in her transformation, although there were some hints at the end of the novel.

In my opinion, the most compelling character of the novel was Christian – and although he only played a minor role, it felt that he has more substance to his character than either of Dough and Wish. In fact, I wanted to know more about his story, not just the bits and pieces that was revealed throughout the novel. I also disliked the way Dough seemingly judges him for the way he looked – it was a bit hypocritical of her for judging someone else, the way she is being judge. She should know to be sensitive, and as far as I know, if the author is trying to make a sarcastic and lovable female protagonist – she did not succeed in this front, as Dough, to me, just came out rude and not very likable.

Wish is a mysterious character, which is good and all as that is what the author seems to be aiming for – but, with the way Balog went about it made his character so poorly developed that at times it feels like he isn’t even part of the story at all. I mean, it was only near the end of the book where we actually see any depth to this character – and from the synopsis, I thought he would play a more centralised role in everything (which he did, but it wasn’t exactly written very well that it felt like he was just a background character until the very last moment).

As for the other characters, they are just that. They do not have substance  very clichéd. A sister who is thinner, a complete sheer contrast to Dough as she is slim and pretty and everything Dough wants to be in that instance – and the rest of the characters is just your typical YA filler characters, a jock who is attracted to the younger sister but is horrible to the protagonist, there’s the school slag etc etc. Not very original, in my opinion.

In all of this, I did not care for any of the characters – yes I did feel bad for Dough, but I did not feel emotionally invested in any of them. The supernatural aspect of this novel I found ridiculous and completely unnecessary, as it was not explained very well – and there was no clear motivation as to what the cult (Luminati) is all about, apart from vain individuals manipulating the stars to give them ideal looks.

Overall, I give this book a

2 out of 5

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