Tuesday, July 2, 2013

ARC Review: Life In Outer Space by Melissa Keil

Life in Outer Space
From the blurb:

Sam Kinnison is a geek, and he’s totally fine with that. He has his horror movies, his nerdy friends, World of Warcraft – and until Princess Leia turns up in his bedroom, he doesn’t have to worry about girls.

Then Sam meets Camilla. She’s beautiful, friendly and completely irrelevant to his life. Sam is determined to ignore her, except that Camilla has a life of her own – and she’s decided that he’s going to be part of it.

Sam believes that everything he needs to know he can learn from the movies ... but now it looks like he’s been watching the wrong ones.

Sandra's rating:

This book appealed to my inner nerd in many, many ways, to the point where I became so engrossed that I ignored all things going on in RL and kept my nose in this book until the ending.

Told entirely from Sam(uel) Kinnison's first person POV, we enter the mind of a nerdy, WoW-playing, socially awkward, horror-movie aficionado 17 yo boy in his second to last year of Secondary School, who dreads Monday mornings and the jocks at school (primarily Justin), who has a small but tight-knit group of genuine friends and who, as we find out, seriously underestimates his own appeal. He has a fairly close relationship with his mother, and a distant one with his father, who is absent for most of the book, and only plays a minor, almost irritant role in Sam's life. He's an aspiring screen writer but doesn't have the inspiration he thinks screen writers should have. Quiet streets, school and homework don't make a riveting screen play. He feels a bit stuck, but deals. He cares about his friends and about staying under Justin's radar.

When New Girl Camilla Carter comes to the school, Sam's initial thought is to compare her to Kate Beckinsale. This of course means that she is way out of his league and will only hang with the popular crowd. Camilla, on the other hand, didn't get that memo, and treats everyone with the same easy smile and kindness. Camilla is persistent in her quest to be a part of Sam's life and inserts herself quite cleverly into his group of friends. Her father is a famous music critic, and she's moved around the world a lot. Some of her views are very insightful, and she slowly but surely becomes very important to Sam.

Sam's inner voice is so refreshing in a sea of YA novels narrated by teenage girls, and he sounds so adorably nerdy, confused and often unintentionally funny, with a wry, almost snarky humor that had me grinning throughout the book. The author created a warm, engaging and believable hero who for the duration of the novel never once stepped out of character. He's still a teenager and thus bound to make assumptions and mistakes, but then also acknowledges the same and seeks to make amends.

The book is filled to the brim with pop culture references, but they all fit into the narrative and the overall plot, from the Mike-came-out Extremely Gay Weekend movie marathon to Camilla's Princess Leia hairdo to Say Anything to procuring movies via internet torrents to... well, you get my drift.

Sam learns to expand his views, change his routine and see beyond his own nose to consider that his own outlook on life might not be entirely true. The author gives his character some real growth towards the end, and while Camilla felt a bit too perfect, we do get to see that she has quite a few cracks in her shell as well.

It's a feel-good, endearing and mostly fluffy rom-com that I would love to see made into a movie. We need more books like this.

I received a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return.

Buy this book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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