I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first signed up to be an ARC reader of Headspace, but this book sucked me in on the very first line and never let me go!
Astra is a young woman who prefers reading to people and doesn’t like to take risks. She’s an unlikely (and unwilling) contestant in an alien game show taking the world and media by storm. Now, she’s fighting for her life with the odds stacked against her – surrounded by people whose motives might not be as straightforward as they seem.
There are SO many elements in this story that make it feel frighteningly realistic: the social media hype, the fickle infatuation of the masses for their latest celebrities, and the motives and involvement of the government.
The fear and uncertainty are so tangible that they will keep you hanging on to the very end! I felt so involved and emotionally invested with these characters that I sat down after finishing this book and took several deep breaths to try processing What. On. Earth. had just happened.
What I Loved:
I love that Headspace is written in first-person point-of-view! That, coupled with the fast pace and smooth flow, made it so easy to get lost in. Plus, the characters in this book. I can’t say enough about them.
First off, we have Astra. She’s not bold, arrogant, or cocky, but she isn’t a helpless mouse. I think she’s so relatable and easy to root for because she doesn’t think she’s great. She doesn’t think she’s anything special, but she pushes herself to learn everything she can – to adapt to her horrific new reality. And through it all, we see her compassion shine through as she is always looking out for someone else.
She’s got a big, beautiful heart, and it’s hard not to feel the roller-coaster of emotions that this book will put you through on her behalf.
I have two other favorite characters, E***** and E***, who shall remain nameless to avoid spoilers. But, oh boy, do I love them! They are well-developed characters that really move this story along and make it that much more engaging and beautiful. 🙂
Also, there are several characters here that I loved to hate – the “bad” people in this book are fleshed out just as well as the “good,” and everyone has depth and layers to them. It makes it difficult to decipher who’s who initially, making you just as puzzled as the protagonist about who you should trust. Very well done!
Anything Confusing/Hard to Read?
No. Despite there being a lot to learn, the pace picks up early on and keeps going! This isn’t a book that you can read and pay attention to the world around you. Instead, this story will suck you into Astra’s struggles and make you hold on for dear life as you speed toward the end.
J. D. Edwin is a phenomenal writer. I believed that in the first chapter, and I finished the last one absolutely sure of it. I used to be a voracious reader but fell out of the habit with the busyness of life post-graduation. As I’ve started to get back into reading, I’ve realized that there are some books, some writing styles, that have that extra something. It’s hard to put my finger on it to describe it, but these books flow so smoothly – so thoroughly draw you in – that you won’t realize you’re reading words on paper anymore. Instead, they play before your mind’s eye like a movie tailor-made for you.
Headspace is one of those books. It makes reading effortless, and I read the last 23 chapters in one night.
What Book Would You Compare This To?
The closest book I can think of would be The Hunger Games, but that is mainly from what I’ve been told about the books and my take-away from the movies. Unfortunately, I haven’t read The Hunger Games, so I can’t say that I’m 100% positive that I would feel the same reading it.
Both books are the start of a series and are written in first-person from the perspective of a young woman (albeit Astra is nine years older than Katniss). They’re both strong individuals driven by a sense of right, which is often due to an instinct to protect those weaker than themselves. Neither one of them is in this game for themself, and they don’t want to pander to the politics of it all.
If you enjoyed The Hunger Games and are up for a splash of sci-fi, then this is the book for you!
Was there anything I didn’t like?
There are so many great things to love about this book that it makes me pause before mentioning anything I didn’t like. But, there were a few things that I found a bit off-putting. Number 1 would be a romantic element in this book that I wasn’t expecting. And no, this doesn’t mean that I didn’t appreciate this couple. They are cute, and I love them. It just moved really fast, and there’s an “almost” scene that I didn’t appreciate (but I also went into this book with zero romantic expectations, so that’s on me).
Number 2 would be the language. There’s more swearing than I appreciate, with terms like f*ck, d*ck, and wh*re being used frequently in the last two-thirds of this book. I tend to avoid books with this much (though it isn’t inundated with them – so it’s not as bad as I’m probably making this sound), but I kept reading, and in the end, I still loved this book.
I will still buy myself both a paperback and an audio copy once it’s available on July 13th. Why? Because the swearing still made sense. It didn’t detract enough from this book to make me not want to reread it or get my hands on the sequel as soon as possible – because I will. Most. Definitely. Be reading this again (and I need that sequel! 😅).
It’s hard to explain why it all still works without giving spoilers…
So do yourself a favor and get this book in your hands as soon as you can. Because answers are for the winners. 👽❤
I’ve always said that I wished there was an IMDb for books, which is why I’ve decided to add a parent’s guide to each of my book reviews. There have been so many times that I tried finding out what triggers/iffy subjects might pop up in my TBR list – especially the books I look into for my younger sisters. So here’s a summary of what I remember from Headspace.
Sex & Nudity:
- A woman kisses a man and tries to take it further, but he leaves abruptly.
- A man and woman kiss passionately and start to remove each other’s clothes, but they’re interrupted before it can go further.
Violence & Gore:
- There’s blood, dismemberment, and death. Some of it is only briefly mentioned, but multiple graphic scenes might be disturbing for sensitive readers.
- As mention earlier in this review, there are many uses of the words f*ck, d*ck, and wh*re about the protagonist. This is hard for her and causes some damage to her emotional and physical health. These occur as references about/spoken to the protagonist and are a consistent theme in the last two-thirds of the book.
- There are several other uses of words such as sh*t throughout the story – especially given the life-threatening games the contestants are subject to.
Headspace is a great soft sci-fi about a young woman fighting for her life in a twisted game. It has likable characters, an immersive plot, and high stakes that keep you reading into the morning in a desperate need to find out how it ends!
It’s an easy read, but I would caution parents to look into it before having a child under 18 read this due to its strong theme of verbal abuse and intense physical violence. These are elements that I tend to avoid in novels, but it fits the context of what is going on and makes sense for the storyline. So unless it’s a huge deal-breaker for you, I would still give this book a try. There’s too much going for it not to!
Five stars – I loved it and am definitely recommending it! Though with caution as to a younger audience.
Let’s Get Social!
You can find me on Instagram and Facebook by searching @lydiawoodwardwriter
I’m just starting to figure out Goodreads, so feel free to reach out! https://www.goodreads.com/lydiawoodwardwriter
I’d Love for You to Join the Fun!
I hate spam and bloated inboxes. So, I’ll only send a newsletter once a month to keep you in the know with important updates and behind-the-scenes extras.