Worlds collide in Stefne Miller’s new YA novel, Collision — aptly titled to address what happens when movie star Cab Stone and missionary Kei Sallee meet in the most unlikely of circumstances.
Cab’s got it all: fame, fortune, and legions of adoring fans. But the pressure and constant attention can be too much — so Cab escapes to a movie producer’s Asheville, North Carolina home for the summer to hide away from it all. That’s where he unexpectedly encounters the producer’s niece, the fiery, red-headed Kei, who’s so far removed from Cab’s world it’s laughable. She’s visiting for the summer, taking a small break from her regular life of serving others in the war-torn region of Uganda. They should have nothing in common — yet as their worlds collide, Cab and Kei discover their lives are more similar than anyone could have imagined. But Cab’s fast-paced world and Kei’s dark secrets could threaten their new-found friendship and its potential to be something more.
I was hooked pretty much from page one of Collision, and couldn’t get enough of Cab and Kei’s first days and weeks together. I loved seeing how these two strangers, from seemingly vastly different backgrounds, came together and interacted. Their relationship is dynamic and addictive; it’s what kept me turning the pages and staying up hours past my bedtime. The development and progression of their romance isn’t easy, but it feels natural and meant to be — not at all forced or rushed. You’re rooting for these two to make it work all along the way.
Cab and Kei are also delightfully fresh characters for YA fiction. Cab is a movie star with a few of the hang-ups you’d expect with celebrity, but not in a cliched or cartoonish way. He’s real and genuine. Likewise, Kei’s personality is just as fiery as her red hair and her scenes light up the pages. Her unique manner of speaking — a collage of her unique and varied upbringing — is endearing and never falters, and her outlook on life is refreshingly wholesome without being saccharine or preachy.
For me, the first half of the book definitely shines stronger than the second half. Though it did not take away from my overall enjoyment of the book, some parts towards the middle and second half of the book felt a bit bogged down. In particular, Cab’s time spent in Uganda felt too heavily influenced by the author’s own experiences. Parts of it read more like a personal diary of experiences than a progression of the story or characters, and might have been better served in a longer author’s note at the end rather than being inserted into the text of the novel. Secondly, as Cab and Kei’s relationship develops, there were moments that felt too easy — while the real dramatic twist at the end came in late, and the conclusion felt rushed. As much as I adored seeing Cab and Kei happy, I wish we’d spent less time in the easy, breezy moments and more in the traumatic aftermath of that twist.
Still, Collision was an addictive read — a book that I simply could not put down until I’d read every last word, and then lingered over for days after finishing. (Even now, I’m still mulling over certain events that happened in my head. This book — it sticks with you.) Reading Collision is unlike anything else I’ve picked up in recent memory, and it’s definitely one worth checking out.
Collision is available now, and can be ordered on Stefne’s website here.