Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

Posted April 7, 2016 by Nikki Wang in 2016, Book Review, Stand-alone / 0 Comments

Girl Against the Universe by Paula StokesGirl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes
Genres: Contemporary, Love & Romance, Young Adult
Published by HarperCollins on May 17, 2016
Pages: 400
Format: ARC
AmazonBook Depository

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.


“If you’ve never been close to death, life probably seems pretty solid. The truth is, it can be destroyed in an instant, like a photograph. One moment your world is slick and shiny. But then the Universe crumples everything into a ball. And even if you don’t get crushed, if you fight to straighten things out, your life will never be the same again.”


I’m going to be frank–this isn’t typically the type of book I would read. I rarely read books with any sport, much less one that sounded kind of like…a light read. But it was Paula Stokes, and I’ve adored all the ones I’ve read from her, so I decided to just go ahead and dive into this book. (The rave reviews helped too.)

This was such a cute read, guys. I don’t know if I can emphasize just how much I adored the romance and how fun it was. Jordy and Maguire just acted so adorably around each other–drawn to each other despite Maguire’s reluctance to get close to anyone. Jordy, on the other hand, was charismatic and hilarious, and flirted with Maguire in a way that made me grin at their banter. Honestly, Jordy is by far one of my favorite characters of Stokes, and that’s saying something.

He was just so…sincere. Sincere and charismatic and well-meaning–basically the boy next door except with just a little bit of a rebel inside of him, as much as he tries to tamp that down. Every scene with him in it either had me grinning from ear to ear, laughing to myself, or feeling a little bit heart-achy for him. Because, despite how happy and carefree Jordy seemed, there were so many emotions that lay under the happy go-lucky appearance he put up.

Of course, that’s probably why the romance aspect of this book worked so absolutely well. Jordy and Maguire both have issues and secrets and hurts that haunt them. Hell, they met in their therapist’s office and throughout the story, they build each other up, helping each other as much as possible, and discovering themselves all the more–as cliche as that sounds. It’s an endearing romance that means so much more and I adored it every step of the way.

And Maguire herself…well. From the beginning, I was a little unsure as to whether or not I’d love her. Not because I doubted Stokes’ writing of course, but because believing you were bad luck? That seemed a little…well, ridiculous to me. I didn’t think I’d be able to take Maguire seriously with such outlandish fears, but I have to admit, Stokes writes this brilliantly. Maguire is a complex character, defined by her fear of hurting those around her, but slowly trying to break out of that fear, despite the uphill battle. And while there were some choices I questioned, I can’t say that I wouldn’t have done the same.

I adored the therapeutic aspects from the sessions to the “therapy homework” and I feel as though it was all represented in a whole, roundabout way. Frankly, I’m a bit in awe of how well the medical side was discusses. Maguire doesn’t have depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, or any of the other mental disorders we see in YA novels, but seeing how much this lesser-known disorder impacts her life is kind of like a giant wake up call.

My only complaints about this book is really just that there were some aspects that were so cliche, from the mean girl, to the swoony seemingly out-of-reach love interest to several of the actual lines.

An absolutely lovely read with an adorable romance even more adorable characters, Girl Against the Universe is one of those books that makes you bit more light hearted but makes you ache all at once. There’s so much in this story and the balance between the more serious aspects of the novel versus the more carefree parts were brilliantly and wonderfully done. Honestly, a perfect read for spring or summer.

4.5 Stars

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