Jazzy Reviews: ‘Starworld’

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Another fab review from Jazzy! Jazzy is one of the most sophisticated young readers I know and I really value her insights on the latest book she’s been reading.

Today she’s reviewing ‘Starworld’, a novel told in two voices by Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner.

You can check out Jazzy’s other reviews by clicking on the tag ‘jazzy’s bookshelf’.

Thank you Jazzy for your thoughtful words on ‘Starworld’.

Click on ‘Buy from Booktopia’ when shopping online in Australia to #supportaustralian. Purchase in store from your local independent bookstore where possible #supportlocal.


(print & eBook available)

“…It’s like being swept away to a whole new world.”
“Starworld,” she says, a corner of her mouth quirking upward.
“Starworld,” I repeat, a small smile finding its way to my face. “I like it.”


When popular and optimistic Zoe Miller becomes interested in awkward and shy Sam Jones’ unique artworks, the two girls realise that they have more in common than they may have previously thought.

With both families being majorly affected by mental illness and other troubles, Zoe and Sam break social boundaries and create their own fantastical escape, named Starworld. However, when Sam finds herself developing a romantic interest in her new best friend, many questions are poised. Is it really friendship, or is it more? Does Zoe feel the same way? And importantly, will this cause Starworld to be ruined forever?


Coulthurst and Garners’ tragic tale of friendship, unrequited love and mental illness switches perspective with every chapter. This allows insight into the characters’ personal home lives and thoughts, and it directly contrasts their issues and personalities. This way, readers can connect with characters on a deeper level. Every situation was perceived in completely different ways by both Zoe and Sam, and this allows the reader to further understand them, hence building a better story.

Many commonly stigmatized topics are mentioned within this novel, and I applaud the authors for approaching them realistically and sentimentally, simultaneously. Among the things spoken of in ‘Starworld’ are mental disorders including obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety, and health problems such as breast cancer. Sam is also struggling with her sexuality, and when shoved into a heteronormative society, it is difficult for her to determine her true feelings.

Disability is a main part of Starworld’s plot. Zoe’s brother Jonah suffers a severe disability, and he is even sent away from his home because of it. This majorly impacts Zoe, especially as she is in senior year, a time for studying and thinking about one’s future. With the added responsibility of caring for Jonah, Zoe feels overwhelmed, and ableism makes the entire situation even more difficult for her.

While Zoe is good at hiding her emotions, Sam is more quiet, and she hides under her dark hoodies to escape attention. Both girls hardly ever divulge private information to anybody, making their friendship even more special. With their magical escape of Starworld, they can escape their problems and launch themselves into mystical adventures with riddles and a dragon named Humphrey.

‘Starworld’ contains some extremely confronting issues, including severe mental and physical illness, disabilities, pregnancy loss and more. One needs the emotional capacity that is necessary to deal with an ending that led me almost to tears, there are also some sexual references and swearing is relatively common. For these reasons, I recommend this novel to teenagers aged 14+

I truly enjoyed this book. It explores and discusses so many themes, and I was a complete wreck by the end of the story, as the characters are so likeable and kind. I give this beautiful tale of love and loss ten bookbolts out of ten.

ISBN: 978-0-14-356759-2
PUBLISHER: Penguin Random House

Megan Daley Bio

Looking for more great book reviews and recommendations? I’m Megan Daley and you can find out more about me here.

My book recommendations (for babies to young adults) is here and you can peruse ALL of my reviews (searchable by age, genre and theme) here.

Check out my mini ebook, 'What to Read Next' or sign up for my FREE webinar, '3 Tips to Start the Best Book Club Ever'.

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