Girl Against The Universe – Paula Stokes | 3.5 Stars | ARC Review

Book | Girl Against The Universe (GATU)

Genre(s)| Realistic Fiction / Young Adult

Date of Publication| May 17th, 2016

My Rating| 3.5 Stars




The lovely Rhea from Rhea’s Neon Journal lent me the ARC of GATU she won at YASH in April and I finally managed to finish it last night. I’ve been in a terrible book slump – I’ve only read like three books in May, compared to my fifteen in March (with exams).

I think GATU has gotten me out of that slump though; I enjoyed reading this sweet contemporary which has a realistic and healthy depiction of how mental health can affect someone’s life.


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.

This is the second Paula Stokes book I’ve read and I think it’s the better one of the two. GATU was such a cute novel – it made me grin and swoon and made me so happy to watch Maguire and Jordy deal with their problems in a positive and healthy way and move on to happier things in their lives. It certainly takes a lot to make the decision to leave one’s past behind and the way Maguire and Jordy worked on it was really captured well.

The book contains all the YA Contemporary staples:

-Nerdy Protagonist

-Hot / Goofy Hero

-Decent best friends (Who also double up as some comic relief)

-Mean girl

But even then, it does manage to strike a chord and be different in its own way. My favourite parts of the book were when Maguire mentioned all the bad stuff that had happened around her, just thinking about those events was funny for me. I dunno, those events were not comical, but I was imagining them as Bad Luck Brian ones.

But the next favourite bits had to be Jordy-Maguire interactions. They made me grin and laugh and gave me hope. Both of them had problems to deal with and they worked on it and it didn’t magically go away or anything because they met each other and liked each other or anything. They both sought the help of a professional therapist and also used the support of their friends and family and it was all of this that made me give it an extra half star. The positive portrayal of mental illness and treatment was the highlight of the novel and I do believe that even if the book has a conventional plotline, it’s worth reading to see how Stokes puts her own spin on it.

Jordy and Maguire are both lovely, likable characters and you tend to root for them to fight against and overcome their problems. Their chemistry is cute and more importantly, believable. Both of them are their own person, and they don’t mesh into one simply because they met each other or like each other.

As a non-sporty person, the tennis bits and other outdoor stuff they did kinda flew over my head as I wasn’t able to visualize them properly because of my lack of knowledge. But it wasn’t as though I was completely blindsided, so if you’re looking for a YA Contemporary mixed with a bit of sports, mental health positivity & some swoon, this is the book for you. Even though I rated Liars Inc. the same stars, I believe that GATU is Stokes’ best work and I think it’s worth a read.

Overall, this book was a really fun, cute read and it got me out of my book slump. Jordy & Maguire were great protagonists to follow, Penn and Jade, their friends made valuable additions to the novel in their own ways and even their families were interesting to read about.

Give this one a try, for all the positive depictions of seeking help and the portrayal of PTSD. And of course, for Jordy & Maguire, who are stars in their own right.

Thanks for lending me your ARC, Rhea. ❤

Until next time,

Nia Carnelio.