Review: Starstruck by Cyn Balog

Book: Starstruck
Author: Cyn Balog
Publisher: Delacorte
Release date: July 12, 2011
Source: ARC for review from Books with Bite Book Tours

Summary: (from Goodreads) Gwendolyn “Dough” Reilly doesn’t think she has much going for her â?? she carries a few extra pounds, her family struggles with their small bakery in a town full of millionaires, and the other kids at her New Jersey high school don’t seem to know that she exists. Thank the stars for her longtime boyfriend, Philip P. Wishman â?? or “Wish.” He moved away to California three years ago, when they were 13, but then professed his love for her via e-mail, and he’s been her long-distance BF ever since.

At the beginning of her junior year, though, Wish e-mails that he’s moving back to Jersey. Great, right? Well, except that Dough has gained about 70 pounds since the last time Wish saw her, while Wish â?? according to his Facebook photos â?? has morphed into a blonde god. Convinced that she’ll be headed for Dumpsville the minute Wish lays eyes on her, Dough delays their meeting as long as she possibly can.

But when she sees Wish at school, something amazing happens. He looks at Dough like she’s just as gorgeous as he is. But Wish is acting a little weird, obsessed with the sun and freaked out by rain. And the creepy new guy working at the bakery, Christian, is convinced that there’s more to Wish’s good looks than just healthy eating and lots of sun. He tells Dough that a mark on Wish’s neck marks him as a member of the Luminati â?? an ancient cult of astrologers who can manipulate the stars to improve their lives. Is Wish and Dough’s love meant to be â?? or are they star-crossed?

First impressions: Gwen/Dough is a fantastic narrator. She shows us who she is from the moment we meet her. She’s funny, sarcastic, a bit down on herself, but able to handle anything thrown at her without losing sight of the big picture. There’s no unnecessary drama here.

Lasting impressions: The realistic elements of the story were more meaningful than the paranormal Luminati stuff. I wish the astrology part had been introduced sooner so it didn’t seem like it was tacked on to the back end of an otherwise interesting contemporary.

Conflicting impressions: I don’t have very specific complaints, as the whole story was enjoyable. I think it could have been great, instead of just good, if we’d gotten some more development with Christian and the Luminati lore.

Overall impressions: Overweight and poor, Dough is resigned to a life in the shadows. Her best friend Wish moved away, leaving her to fend for herself in her mom’s bakery, and the pounds added up after snacking on donuts all day every day. Now that Wish is headed back to town to be her in-person boyfriend and not just a long-distance boyfriend, she’s panicky at the thought of him seeing her bloated new body.

It’s a fear that hit home for me, and I understood Dough’s plight. Her oblivious mom keeps buying her shapeless, cheap clothing, and they can’t afford for her to get even a decent, flattering haircut. All the cards are stacked against her.

We spend a good portion of the first part of the book gearing up for the inevitable showdown with Wish…but it amounts to nothing. He’s not horrified (not that we expected him to be, nice guy that he is), and the in-crowd seems to accept her without much thought. This is where I think the conflict could have been turned up to really make things more interesting. We expect Wish to be the nice guy, so why not have him react poorly to her looks? Do we really think the popular crowd would be so into a guy who has been MIA for most of their formative years that they’d gladly accept a loser like Dough? I’m not saying they had to be complete archetypes, but some of the more expected behavior would have made things more interesting for Dough and Wish’s relationship.

Throwing a wrench into things is the new bakery worker, Christian, who seems to have an idea of what’s “off” about Wish. Trouble is, other than a passing comment from Dough, Wish isn’t really all that suspicious with his behavior. When Christian finally spills about the Luminati, it kind of seems ridiculous instead of being dangerous.

The action ramps up in the last part of the book, but suffers from the mistakes of Mockingjay in that Dough winds up unconscious during key points in the final scenes, thus denying the reader the chance to see how she gets out of her perilous situation. This was another big letdown for me.

I did like Dough enough to gobble this book in a few quick hours, and I appreciated the unique and fresh astrology elements. If you’re interested in exploring love and insecurity, with a dash of paranormal, this is the book for you.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Click the stars for a description of my rating system

Amazingly beautiful and painstakingly crafted signature courtesy of Small Review

1 thought on “Review: Starstruck by Cyn Balog

  1. Eh, sounds like a pass for me. Too easy ending, underdeveloped paranormal elements, characters that don't quite make sense, eh, no thanks. I didn't like this author's other book either (the one about sandmen).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s