Book Quibbles: The Center of the Universe Review

My mother and I are stars in a binary, circling each other, pulled by our mutual gravity. We will always be this way. It’s how the universe works.

I received an early copy from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m writing this at 3 am because that’s how late I stayed up to read this entire book. Was it the book itself or could I just not fall asleep? Mostly the latter, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an intriguing read.

Grace Carter’s mother — the celebrity news anchor GG Carter — is everything Grace is not. GG is a star, with a flawless wardrobe and a following of thousands, while Grace — an aspiring astrophysicist — is into stars of another kind. She and her mother have always been in different orbits. Then one day GG is just … gone.

Author: Ria Voros

Release date: April 2, 2019

Kids Can Press

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

 

What Caught My Eye

Two things caught my attention to read this: 1.) the fact that GG is a celebrity news anchor and 2.) that she’s missing. It makes you wonder of the possibilities as to why she’s missing. Stalker fan? Pissed off viewer? Is she just a random person in an unfortunate set of circumstances that led her to be the victim in abduction with no personal ties to her?

The mystery about GG’s disappearance is just as big as the mystery surrounding her life. Grace, who is named not only after her mom but grandma (yes they’re all named Grace, but go by different names), is a typical teenager who doesn’t get along with her mom. Basically, Grace loves space and her mom doesn’t understand.

Everything Changes

However, after GG goes missing Grace starts to learn more about her mom’s past, which sounds like a different person from the person who is constantly on her phone and putting on appearances for work. It also allows her to grow closer to her family and especially her grandma Patricia who happens to be a well-known actress.

Some big props to the book: Grace does have a love interest that didn’t feel forced. His name is Mylo and he has more in common with Grace that she originally knew. It starts with him helping her through her mom’s disappearance, which I’ll talk about in a second, then growing into something more. There’s also her best friend Iris who wasn’t introduced in the first scene then never showed up again. I liked their relationship.

Now to the actual disappearance part: this isn’t an action-mystery-thriller. Grace isn’t trying to solve the case. She’s trying to survive without her mom. Sure she stumbles upon some clues and gives the police important information, but she’s not out there doing all the work. It shows a family waiting for any kind of new information, of hearing the bad news, and dealing with their own issues through it. Even later in the book, you can tell the experience changed them, which is one of the main points.

Quibbles

I didn’t have too big of an issue with Grace, but in the beginning, you could tell she needed an attitude adjustment. She argued, not only with her mom but almost everyone at first. Thankfully she does go through her own arc and grows and matures during the experience. Still, she’s an angsty teenager and I could see how that may annoy readers, especially with her grandma. They had next to no relationship at the start.

And this is a tiny quibble, but sometimes it felt like scenes dragged out. Like, something big will happen, then there’s no new information for a few chapters and I get that’s to mimic the case and it created tension, just waiting for something to come up. Again, not a big thing, but I did get restless a few times, not in an entirely bad way though.

Overall

A big part of the book goes into Grace’s love of space. She’s serious about her future and knows her stuff. A lot of examples she gives can be taken as a metaphor for life or works within the story. So, huge props to the author for her research. She even interviewed a real astrophysicist, Dr. Elizabeth Tasker, who has her own spot in the book.

Do I regret staying up to read this? Definitely not. I love when a mystery grabs my attention and it’s been a while since one’s done that. Hell, it’s been a while since I stayed up and gotten three hours of sleep just to find out what happens in the end. Even when news about GG is given, even when things start to tie up, there’s so much more going on mentally, not only with her but with the family.

And that’s what I liked about it. It showed what it’s like for a family dealing with someone they love missing and even after. Even after the case is done, things are different, and it was nice seeing Grace change with it.

Side note: If you happen to see more book reviews than usual, I kind of went on a request spree on Net Galley, only thinking I’d get two or three approved and not the eight I currently have in my shelf. I may not post a review for every book but felt this one deserved it. 

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