Monday, August 27, 2012 |
Outer space.  The universe.  The final frontier.  No, this isn’t a review of Star Trek (though I did watch the new film for the sixth time this weekend).  I mean real, void-filled-with-stars-and-planets space – when’s the last time you thought about it?  It’s been in my mind quite a lot lately, what with the Mars rover landing and occasional sci-fi reads.  Turns out that my latest read plunged me right into an astronaut adventure.  Frank Cottrell Boyce’s middle grade novel Cosmic is by far the funniest and best book set (partially) in space that I’ve read in ages.

cosmic by frank cottrell boyce book coverLiam has always felt a bit like he's stuck between two worlds. This is primarily because he's a twelve-year-old kid who looks like he's about thirty. Sometimes it's not so bad, like when his new principal mistakes him for a teacher on the first day of school or when he convinces a car dealer to let him take a Porsche out on a test drive. But mostly it's just frustrating, being a kid trapped in an adult world. And so he decides to flip things around. Liam cons his way onto the first spaceship to take civilians into space, a special flight for a group of kids and an adult chaperone, and he is going as the adult chaperone. It's not long before Liam, along with his friends, is stuck between two worlds again—only this time he's 239,000 miles from home. 

Frank Cottrell Boyce, author of Millions and Framed, brings us a funny and touching story of the many ways in which grown-upness is truly wasted on grown-ups.

Liam is about to start high school, and this is a problem.  Why?  Oh, because he’s freakishly tall, doesn’t have friends to speak of, and his best skills lie in the realm of computer games.  Also, grown-up people seem to mistake him for an adult quite a lot.  But to be honest, that particular problem does lead to some interesting adventures.  It is Liam’s insatiable curiosity, enthusiasm for games, and outsize height that eventually land him in a…spaceship?  Cosmic is Liam’s story, and it’s about growing up, figuring life out, and keeping your family and friends in your heart, even if you head on a universe-sized adventure.

The story isn’t just Liam, though – it’s his family (a mum who worries and a dad who drives a taxi).  It’s the drama troupe he’s been enrolled in to help him develop his social IQ.  It’s his obsession with World of Warcraft and gaming and seeing the world in terms of quests and adventures.  Then there’s Florida, a celebrity-obsessed fellow drama enrollee who lets Liam pretend to be her dad to get free things at the mall.  And let’s not forget the other characters who make it into space and the reader’s heart.  This is a book with charm and intelligence and accessibility.  In other words?  It has no downside.

Cosmic is witty, smart, silly and endearing.  It’s full of bits of wisdom and whimsy that will make you laugh and sigh and ponder the awkward reality of the growing up years – and force you to relive those moments when you wondered why parents act that way.  It’s golden-hearted and beautiful.

Recommended for: children of all ages, shapes and sizes (young at heart counts!), and those looking for books about family, about space, about being gifted and not fitting in, about feeling alone in the midst of the universe, and about finding something good on earth to make coming home worthwhile. 

Fine print: I received a paperback copy of Cosmic for review from the folks at Walden Pond Press (HarperCollins).  And then I went and bought a copy for my brother’s 26th birthday present.  It’s really that good.  Trust me.


Anonymous said...

Cosmic sounds amazing! I love the idea of a teen getting into adventures and experiencing life as a grown up but not actually, you know, being one. I can just imagine all the highjinks that Liam could get into. I will definitely have to pick this one up, especially to see how the whole space aspect plays out!

Liviania said...

I need to buy the new Trek. So good.

This sounds like a really fun title. People used to mistake my sister for a grown up which could be very handy.

Charlotte said...

I agree--it's a lovely one!

Tales of Whimsy said...

This sounds totally up my alley. Funky. I dig that. I'm off to look it up. Thanks for the review.

Kristen M. said...

I'm glad to finally see this one reviewed. I won a copy a while back but wasn't sure if we should keep it. Now we definitely will! Sounds like Z would enjoy it too.

Jen (Makeshift Bookmark) said...

I could not agree more about #8 and #10. I totally judge for misspellings. And, though I love sad books, I have to be in a serious mood. And I can't be sad about anything in real life. It's few & far between as far as "perfect moods" for a really sad read. For example, I didn't know what I was getting into with Second Chance Summer and ended up crying for an hour after I closed it.

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