Review: Girl Against The Universe, Paula Stokes (+ INT giveaway!)

There are no spoilers in this review.

After reading and falling in love with This Is How It Happened, I obviously had some expectations getting into my second Paula Stokes’ book, especially Girl Against The Universe. I saw this book making its way around the blogosphere, back when it was released and I only had heard great things. Expectations were pretty high by this point. Yet I’m thrilled to say that, slowly but surely, Paula Stokes is making her way on my favorite authors’ shelf.

Girl Against The Universe has one main character you will want to root for.

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β€œOnce I accepted the fact that I was bad luck, I shied away from group activities. And groups. And activities. I started spending a lot of time in my room, tucked under my covers reading books.”

Maguire, the main character in this story, believes she is bad luck. Bad things happen when she is around: car accidents killing her father, brother and uncle. Roller coasters breaking down, injuring her friends. House set on fire. We follow her story as she tries and get better, as she tries and change her luck, as she really wants to get on a plane to Ireland to meet her late dad’s side of the family.

Maguire is a character I wanted to hug all along. She believes she is at fault for so many bad things happening. She is shy, insecure, unused to get out of her shell. As the story goes on, she grows, gains confidence, friends, slowly overcome her fears and, step by step, with an incredible support of both her friends, family and therapist, makes progress and overall just grows. Without offering a love-cures-everything story OR a mental-illness-can-be-cured story, the author shows us a positive, gorgeous character-growth of Maguire’s character that you will fall in love with.

And side-characters you will fall in love with.

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There is an amazing cast of characters surrounding Maguire, making for her an incredible support system as well as a great cast to follow. Jordy, the love interest in this story, was sweet and caring while also facing his own issues. I loved how Paula Stokes tackled with him the difficult question of having two-faces, one you show to the public and another, more personal, more real, remaining hidden.

The friends Maguire is making for herself in this story were pretty amazing, too. I loved how supportive Jade and Penn both were of Maguire’s fears and obstacles she had to overcome, always there to help her and make her smile.
Maguire’s parents were also present and accounted for: I loved seeing how Maguire’s relationship developed with her mother, but most importantly with her stepfather as the story went on.

Girl Against The Universe is realistic as – hell.

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β€œTime doesn’t heal anything. It’s like drinking. The best it can do is help you forget, if you’re lucky.”

The portrayal of Maguire’s issues and slow progress was very realistic – well, as far as I can say, as I am not personally experiencing these kind of issues too much. I found Maguire’s trail of thoughts very vivid as she reminisced accidents, as she imagined everything that could potentially happen. I appreciated deeply how we got to see the way she thought, the way she had to verify everything… then slowly getting better and better.

I loved how her therapy sessions were included in the story and how positively these were shown, as well. Maguire was the master of her own growth in this story – it was not a love-cures-all kind of story, nor was it a story with a happy ending where everything is magically cured. It showed progress, growth, it showed that these kind of things just take time, patience and relapses. It shows how, surrounded by an incredible support system and by her inner strength, Maguire takes progress into her own hands and always, always does her best.

OVERALL

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I wish I could write thousand of lines about this book – I think it deserves more, but I also think it’s a book you have to discover for yourself. Incredible character-development and growth, great cast of characters overall you’ll want to root for, a realistic, slow-building romance, a lot of tennis, a bit of wanderlust and rock-climbing, smiles and tears. There are tons of emotions in this book and I’d heavily recommend it for any YA contemporary fan.

Final rating:Β  It’s a hurricane!

Thank you so much to the author for the review copy of the book. This did not, in any way, affect my reading experience and/or my rating.

Trigger warnings: panic attacks. The main character is dealing with PTSD.


Paula Stokes, Girl Against The Universe, Β Published by HarperTeen, May 17th, 2016.

goodreads-badge-add-plus-fad3b68d35050280ea55d50f17c654b5

Sixteen-year-old Maguire knows the universe is against her. No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when she’s around.Β Like that time the roller coaster jumped off its tracks.Β Or the time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crashβ€”and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch. Despite what her therapist tells her, Maguire thinks it’s best to hide out in her room, far away from anyone she might accidentally hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star who wants to help her break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for him is to stay away, but it turns out staying away may be harder than she thought.

 

I am thrilled to be giving away ONE physical copy of Girl Against the Universe to one lucky winner! This giveaway is OPEN INTERNATIONALLY.

  • You have to be 18 or have your parents’ consent to give our your address.
  • The giveaway will run from today, the 19th of January, to the 27th of January, Midnight G.M.T. The winner will be contacted by email shortly afterwards. If the winner fails to answer in 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn.

BEST OF LUCK TO EVERYONE! CLICK HERE to enter the giveaway.

Did you read Girl Against The Universe? Do you want to? (YOU should!)

What’s the last 5-stars-book you’ve read? Let me know in comments!

Posted by

Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

72 thoughts on “Review: Girl Against The Universe, Paula Stokes (+ INT giveaway!)

    1. It really was! You are so welcome, best of luck πŸ™‚
      I’m happy to hear you enjoyed that one! I have never read that series… oops, haha I think I need to hide in a dark corner forever πŸ˜›
      Thank you so much! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I have been drawn to this one for a while because I really like the cover, but now I want to read it even more! I have tended to give the YA mass death books a bit of side eye in the past. I don’t know why exactly – I think maybe it bothers me to think you have to kill of a character’s entire family to inspire growth? Or maybe it’s just because there are SO many books with that plotline, haha. All that said, this sounds like it could make for a really lovely read. I haven’t been reading so many YA contemporaries lately so it’s a good time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I’m so glad to hear it. I have a feeling you could enjoy this one – it was such a great read, one that will make you smile and the characters are all so great ❀
      Thank you so much! And best of luck for the giveaway ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aaww, this sounds like such a feel-good story! Maguire, her friends, her family, the love interest… They all look tremendously well-written and kind and loving and that is just so important when one writes a story about mental illness. I wish more authors would dive into that sort of thing, although I do understand that not all people who go through something like that experience the same type of support and that’s something that needs to be shown, too.
    Thankfully, that’s not the case with this book. I love that the romance is slow too, my favorite ❀ Everything about it sounds great!
    I'm so glad you loved it πŸ™‚ I need to try it as well. I haven't read anything by Paula Stokes before but if she's made you a fan with one single book, then I'm sure she's fantastic.
    Amazing review, as always! ❀

    Like

    1. Oh I am sure you could love this book, Sophie! The cast of characters was incredibly endearing and it was a positive, hopeful yet realistic story ❀
      Also, it was my second Paula Stokes' book, I have read This Is How It Happened before and loved it as well πŸ™‚
      Thank you so much!! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have yet to read Girl Against The Universe but have read and loved a few of other Paula’s books. This one sound equally interesting, especially after reading your review.
    My last 5-stars-book was Dear Martin by Nic Stone, absolutely amazing read.
    Thank you for a generous giveaway!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohh that’s great, which books of hers have you read already? πŸ˜€
      Wow – I need to read Dear Martin, it is on my TBR and I can’t wait to read it, so happy you loved it so much πŸ˜€
      You’re so welcome, thank YOU or entering and best of luck πŸ˜€

      Like

  4. I think books that show a girl’s growth are becoming more and more popular thank goodness! I love that this wasn’t a love cures all book and I also love the premise… we take on so much guilt ourselves as women over different things I think its so relatable. Great review Marie! Thanks for sharing this book (and the giveaway!) ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh you’re so welcome, thank you for your sweet comment and best of luck! I hope you’ll get to read this book someday, I’d love to hear what you think of it πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. Yes I’m so glad you loved this Marie! I read this about 2 years ago, and also loved the story and the portrayal of MH, therapy, and just Maguire and Jordy overall πŸ˜€ ALSO TENNIS. Not that I know anything about tennis, but I was surprised that I liked a book centered around sports!

    Awesome review Marie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yay, I’m so happy to hear this! πŸ˜€ I’m with you on sports ahah, I’m not really a sports person, yet I loved that one and it was great to see how tennis was reuniting all of the characters in this. ❀
      Thank you! ❀ ❀

      Like

  6. I HAVE MISSED READING YOUR REVIEWS ❀ OH GOSH, YOURE SO GOOD WITH WORDS HAAH . Mon idole :3 This one definitely CONVINCED me by the character driven plot. I'm picking this up, C'EST CERTAIN πŸ˜€ (you convinced me into reading a contemporary which TELLS A LOT on the amazingness of this review) πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  7. OK THIS SOUNDS SO AMAZING AND GREAT. I lovee contemporaries with MC that show a character arc of growth instead of just straight up yup you’re healed now!! Thanks Marie for taking care of my TBR and making sure it stays big and and strong by feeding it new books. Thanksssss.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AHHH YOU ARE WELCOME MY LOVE. I hope you’ll read this one and will love it, I don’t know why, but I have a feeling this could be a book for you ❀ ❀ Thank YOU for your sweet comment, you're the best ❀ ❀

      Like

  8. I had so much reading Girl Against the Universe in 2016 because I am a huge fan of tennis, so reading Maguire’s battles on and off court, was really interesting. And let’s not forget about the cinnamon roll that is Jordy! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhh that’s so great! Do you play tennis, or are you just a fan of it… in general, like, watching it on tv and so on? πŸ™‚
      YES, Jordy was such a great character, I loved him SO MUCH ❀
      Thank you, Kevin!! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh that’s awesome! And now that I think about it, I can’t recall one single book, besides this one, that focuses on tennis πŸ˜… that’s too bad.

        Like

  9. I haven’t read this book or heard about it. But this sure looks like a book that I’ll enjoy πŸ™‚ Definitely adding it to my TBR. This reminds me of Turtles All the Way Down? I mean in terms of character development and mental illness?
    And TATWD was my last five star read.. still waiting for my first 5-star in this new year πŸ˜€
    I surely want to read more such story.. involving PoC and Mental issues, diversity etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was quite different from Turtles, in the sense that… in Turtles, I could really FEEL the internal battles of the character in such an intense way. Here, I didn’t get that intensity with the narration, but I still could relate and see what the character was going through. There was a great character development in that one as well, yes, I loved that so much. It was hopeful without being unrealistic πŸ™‚
      I hope you will pick it up at some point πŸ˜€ thank you!! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This sounds amazing, Marie! And isn’t it nice when you have high expectations about a book, and you’re still happy with it. It always makes me a bit nervous to read a book I am excited about, because sometimes, I have built it up in my mind so much it just can’t live up to my expectations.
    I’m going to have to check out this one πŸ™‚ Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I understand the feeling so, so much. Sometimes, having expectations is the worst thing. I’m glad I wasn’t disappointed for that one and I hope you won’t, either πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much for your comment! ❀ ❀

      Like

  11. Great review for this book Marie. πŸ™‚ I saw a lot of reviews for this one when it was first released and it sounded amazing so I added it to my to-read list (and like most books on there kind of forgot about it). Your review has definitely convinced me to move it up my TBR list if only because of your rating for Girl Against the Universe! πŸ˜€
    Already I love Maguire’s character, and really feel for her because of how she’s putting everything that happened to her family and friends on her own shoulders. She sounds like a brilliant character and based on your review it seems like she has some brilliant development throughout the book as well. πŸ™‚
    Again great review Marie, I hope this is one I’ll enjoy as much as you did when I finally get around to it. πŸ˜€ ❀
    Also thanks for the giveaway. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you so much, Beth, this makes me SO happy! πŸ˜€ I understand ahah, there are so many books I added to my TBR that I most likely forgot now. It makes me sad, but we are always drowning in new releases and new books added, it’s easy to get lost, I guess πŸ™‚
      Maguire was such a brilliant character. I hope you will love her! Thank you so much for your sweet comment ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I haven’t read this yet but I acutally really want to because it sounds so so fabulous, just up my alley. I’m so here for every kind of sensitively written character and this sounds like a hopeful story…which I could do with more of tbh

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH THIS MAKES ME SO HAPPY. I also love that we have similar taste in books, I’m going to have to ask you for all the recommendations πŸ˜›
      I loved that one so, so much, I hope you will get to read it soon and love it πŸ™‚
      Thank you! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I didn’t enjoy This is How it Happened *as much* as I was expecting, but I did love the messages and the writing! I’m definitely interested in picking up another one of this author’s books, so I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this!! Jordy’s character sounds so interesting, and I’m happy to hear Maguire’s story was her own and not a love-cures-all situation, because I think that’s a super unhealthy message? This book sounds sooo good, lovely review!! ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you, it always feels a bit unrealistic and annoyin whenever a love interest comes around and he/she magically manages to make the character better and “cure” them, in a way. In that one, Jordy was an incredible support, but Maguire was on her own path and journey, I loved that ❀
      Thank you!! ❀ ❀

      Like

  14. I’ve read Liars Inc by Paula Stokes and I remember that I really enjoyed it. But I actually have yet to read any more of her works. But this one is definitely on my TBR list now! I absolutely love it when I can appreciate the secondary characters too. And it being realistic is another plus.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhh, I’m so glad you loved Liars! I added this book on my TBR – as well as all of Paula’s books -, the synopsis sounded so mysterious and unique. So happy you enjoyed it πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Such a lovely review, Marie!!! ❀ The premise sounds so interesting and it sounds absolutely amazing, I'm so glad you loved it and that you seem to have discovered a new favourite author (best feeling ever!).
    My last favourite book is Let's Talk About Love because I haven't read in ages!!! Help! But hey, this is the official day I'm getting back into reading, so hopefully, I'll have a new five stars book soon! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you so much, Marta!! BY THE WAY, go read the book you won right now so we can talk about it okay? πŸ˜›
      I’m so happy to hear that, I remember you gushing about Let’s Talk About Love a whole lot – can’t wait to read it sometime! πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much!!! ❀

      Like

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