Kelly's Reviews > The Center of the Universe

The Center of the Universe by Ria Voros
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it was ok

If The Center of the Universe was a jigsaw puzzle, it would be the type of puzzle where after the frame was completed, you would have a hard time finding where the rest of the pieces go, because, well, for some strange reason, the pieces just don’t fit. I can’t really explain my experience with this book any other way. Yes, this book does have a frame (a teenage girl’s mother goes missing), but, there’s so many other parts and pieces thrown into the mix, and, none of them seem to work, or, fit, together. This book frustrated and annoyed me. I think I did a happy dance when I finally finished it.

The Center of the Universe is about Grace Carter, an aspiring teenage astrophysicist who has a lot of built up teen angst. She is the main reason why I disliked this book. I couldn’t stand her. If I had a dollar for every time she was “annoyed” or “pissed off” (her words, not mine), I would be a rich girl. You see, Grace gets really angry when people don’t pay attention to her or her interests (astrophysics). This anger is centred on Grace’s mom, GG Carter, a very famous local journalist, and Grace’s grandmother, Patricia Forsythe, a somewhat famous actress. While it’s easy to see that GG is a workaholic, I would say that Grace unfairly villainizes her mother. From the onset of the story, it’s obvious that something is off with GG. Grace notes how her mother is losing weight, and how skittish and burnt out she seems. Yet, Grace still finds fault with pretty much anything to do with GG, even after GG goes missing. Then there’s Grace’s grandmother. Grace seems to have it out for her grandma simply because she hates the smell of Grandma’s perfume. Oh, and the fact that Grandma sees herself as a starlet. But, really, from what I could gather from Grace’s relationship with both her mom and grandma (and really for how long the book is, it felt like we really weren’t given sufficient information about these relationships), is that there was no relationship because of Grace. Grace became interested in space and stars (“important things”), while her mom and grandma were celebrities and she didn’t like that. If Grace came off her high horse maybe she would realize that what she talks about is really boring and complicated to people who aren’t into astrophysics, and that maybe she should start caring about what matters to other people as well. Argh.

Aside from Grace, GG, and Grandma, the rest of the story is filled with a handful of other characters and a whole bunch of their useless side stories. There’s Grace’s best friend, Iris, who’s also into astrophysics, who takes courses on computer hacking, and, who, with the help of her loving parents, is passionate about helping out refugee families. There’s this whole section dedicated to a fundraiser that Iris sets up to raise money for refugees, which leads into the story of Iris and her love interest. There’s Mylo, Iris’s friend from computer hacking, and Grace’s love interest (gag). He loves photography, but like Grace’s mom, Mylo’s mom is also a local celebrity of sorts and she doesn’t get along with Mylo either, because, shocker, she doesn’t understand him and doesn’t want him to be a photographer. (view spoiler) While I understand that Voros was trying to create connections between Grace and Mylo, their stories were so similar that it was ridiculous. It added nothing to the story. Don’t even get me started on the romance. Mylo and Grace are barely together, then they’re a couple, then they lose their connection and Grace doesn’t understand why, and then they’re back together and so in love, and it all just makes me want to puke. It seems like the author really felt like this was some life changing romance that helped Grace pull through her mother’s disappearance, but really, it seemed like filler. Mylo could have easily been taken out of the story and nothing would have changed. Then, while all of this stuff is going on, there’s also the police investigation happening with the main detectives popping in and out of the story at convenient times. And I can’t forget to mention Marge, one of GG’s best friends, who provides emotional support to the family, and who knows more about GG than Grace realizes. There’s also GG’s coworkers and how they want to create a TV special about the disappearance. Ugh, thinking about all of this makes my head hurt. Do you see where I’m going with this? There are so many pieces to this story, but, they all read like their own separate narrative. The only reason why half of these characters are relevant is because they not so surprisingly lead Grace to come to some sort of realization about her mom, or, lead her to a clue in the investigation. But really, none of these characters were needed in order for Grace to gather this information. It made everything complicated and disjointed. Nothing seemed to fit together; it was all bits and pieces. There are more effective ways to incorporate secondary characters into narratives.

(view spoiler)

If this book was just about Grace and her family, and the ongoing investigation behind GG’s disappearance (was it an abduction, or, did GG willingly leave?) and the aftermath of it all, this would have been a good read. The only reason I gave this book 2 stars is because I liked the overall concept of the story. I liked the idea that behind GG’s public persona was a person that Grace never knew about. However, Voros spent way too much time fleshing out side stories and minor characters. Both Grace and GG could have used way more character development, and their relationship (before and after the disappearance) needed further exploration.

*I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway
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Reading Progress

May 20, 2019 – Started Reading
May 20, 2019 – Shelved
May 21, 2019 –
page 25
4.94%
May 22, 2019 –
page 251
49.6%
May 22, 2019 – Finished Reading

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