ARC REVIEW: The Center of the Universe by Ria Voros

The Center of the Universe

Title: The Center of the Universe
Author: Ria Voros
Pages: 506

Release Date: April 2 2019
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Format: Hardcover

Genre: Contemporary 
Goodreads Rating: 3.82 (of 160 ratings)



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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. While the authorities unravel the mystery behind GG’s disappearance, Grace grows closer to her high school’s golden boy, Mylo, who has faced a black hole of his own. She also uncovers some secrets from her mother’s long-lost past. The more Grace learns, the more she wonders. Did she ever really know her mother? Was GG abducted … or did she leave? And if she left, why?


Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Kids Can Press through NetGalley. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book. 

I’m like, really late with this review. Since it’s my first time ever, can we pretend it never happened and focus instead on how amazing The Center of the Universe is?

I probably rave about family-themed books every other day, so it should come as no surprise that I wanted to read The Center of the Universe. (It truly only took me so long to read because I was moving across the world. Seriously, matters need to be that drastic to stop me from reading a book with a plot summary THIS good.) And this book did not let me down. From the characters to the side plots to the use of astronomy, TCOTU is flawlessly constructed to show how no person is made up of one part and how those different parts make us who we are.

If I’d been naive about the world before, I was awake now. You couldn’t count on everyone to be who you thought they were. — The Center of the Universe

The core theme in TCOTU is about family. Grace’s relationship with her mother is beyond strained when GG goes missing. Throughout the police investigation, Grace is left with jumbled pieces of her mother to contemplate and endless time to try to match them together. The book explores how we draw an image of a person in our minds, but how that image rarely matches what others see.

Along the way, Grace meets Mylo. I enjoyed their relationship. The pair didn’t exhibit the typical showings of insta-love (although there were some scenes towards that end that had me rolling my eyes). Mylo and Grace make their initial connections by a shared backstory—I like how the author added in a less commonly seen (in books) event with Mylo’s family. I won’t mention because of spoilers. Just to say, this *thing* shed light on something that happens often and is overlooked a lot. I wish there had been a kind of resolution for Mylo though.

As for Mylo as a person, he’s really sweet and I liked him.I was PRETTY GOOD WITH HIM, okay? My only issue would be that his sole descriptor was: eyebrows. Like, he had good eyebrows. I won’t like, I definitely enjoy a good pair of eyebrows, but any time a book character is described by only eyebrows I will then visualize only eyebrows in my head. A.K.A. Mylo is now a pair of floating eyebrows.

In general, every character was able to stand on their own on this book. The majority has their own backstories or at least hobbies and interests, making them dynamic and 3-dimensional to the reader. I especially loved best friend Iris. This girl literally spent three-quarters of the book emotionally supporting Grace and running a fundraiser for Sudanese refugees. I MEAN.

“Remember when you were a little kid and you thought your parents knew everything?”
“It turns out they’re just as messed up as we are.” — The Center of the Universe

GG’s abduction/missing person story was entirely captivating. It started out slowly and then built. It never fully reached the tension that I get when reading an actual mystery/thriller book, so don’t expect that if you choose to read The Center of the Universe. The focus in this book is much more on the emotions of the characters than on “ooh, I should search for clues” or “I wonder if there’s a killer in my closet” kind of craziness.

I found this writing style made it easier to connect with Grace’s hurt and worry. She felt more like a seventeen-year-old girl wondering where her mother had gone, and wishing their last words weren’t harsh.


rating: Anna. This book would be perfect, if I got a teensy tiny bit more closure. Imagine one grain of sugar. I’m *that* close. 
half-Korean love interest
content warnings: suicide, discussions of abduction/missing person, starvation

What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

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4 thoughts on “ARC REVIEW: The Center of the Universe by Ria Voros

  1. I loved this review– it sounded like an interesting book and I like that it focuses on family as well. I loved the quote you included about thinking parents had it all together. And I love a supportive best friend as well!! This sounds like a good book and I would love to check it out one day!! Great review!! 🙂


  2. Lovely review, Sha! 😊 I love books about family! I’ve been thinking about adding this one to my TBR for some time, and it just might end up on the list, now.

    But 😂 the eyebrow thing reminds me of another book I read a few years ago, where the MC fell in love with this guy who apparently had some good bushy eyebrows. I’ve never been an eyebrow gal, but hey, I guess some people are! 😂


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