All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Life In Outer Space – Melissa Keil

on May 9, 2013

Life In Outer SpaceLife In Outer Space
Melissa Keil
Hardie Grant Egmont
2013, 305p
Read from my TBR pile

Sam is a geek. He’s a target at school and he usually spends his time hanging out in the IT rooms with his small group of friends, all of whom are equally unpopular as he. Sam has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of horror movies and he writes his own scripts, dreaming of one day making it big. He plays World of Warcraft and so far he hasn’t really had to think much about girls.

But then Camilla arrives at his school. She’s beautiful and wordly, having lived all over the globe, most recently in New York. Her father is a famous music critic. She’s immediately accepted into the popular group at school – in fact they almost beg for her attention. But Camilla is nice to everyone, even to Sam and his friends and no one is nice to them. She plays WoW too and asks for help on a quest one night. It’s the beginning of a friendship that develops not just between Sam and Camilla, but Sam and his whole group of friends: Mike, the gay karate blackbelt, Adrian, the short and slightly overweight one who thinks he’s invincible and Allison, the perpetually pre-pubescent girl of the group.

Sam doesn’t want to fall for Camilla’s charm but he can’t help but be taken in by her ability to be utterly nice to everyone, even knob-jockeys like Justin Zigoni, the most obnoxious student in their year who has made Sam’s life mostly hell for all of high school. Bit by bit Camilla sneaks under his radar and becomes a key part of their group, fitting in like she’s always been there. Camilla has the ability to fit in everywhere, but it’s with Sam and his friends where she seems most comfortable. Before he knows it, their friendship has developed, for Sam, into the most epic crush. But Camilla is the sort of girl who dates rock gods who play bass, not nerds who write scrips and play WoW. At least that’s what the movies say…. right?

Two months ago I went to a blogger summit in Sydney and met a bunch of fantastic bloggers. Over dinner, I asked each of them to recommend me a book and Mandee at VeganYANerds recommended me this one. I immediately bought it after I arrived back home. It’s one of those books that when I picked it up and began reading, I thought to myself ‘why didn’t I read this earlier?!’

Sam’s voice is amazing! He’s funny, self-deprecating, intelligent and aware but also…realistic. I admit, it’s been a while since I really associated with teenage boys, but reading this book was almost like being transported back to high school. It was genuine without being over-dedicated to stereotypes – everyone has known a Justin Zigoni at some stage in their lives and everyone has known people like Sam and his friends. Some people have been Sam and his friends. They’re an eclectic little mix, not what comes to mind when you think “geeky outcasts”. Mike is a karate black belt but he’s kept his sexuality close to his chest, telling only the group and his parents. Adrian kind of reminds me of Wolowitz from The Big Bang Theory – short, slightly crass and thinks that he’s capable of much more than he really is. I laughed out loud so many times reading this book. I just love Sam’s take on life, the nicknames he gives teachers, the way in which he describes mundane day-to-day events without making them sound boring. He cares about his mother, he tries to keep her happy when his parents are going through a rough patch, but he also does it in subtle sort of way, using his great passion of movies. I thought it was incredibly sweet but not out of the realms of a teenage boy’s emotional capabilities.

Camilla has the potential to be extremely unlikable – she’s beautiful but she’s nice to everyone! She’s glamorous, exotic, she has a tattoo in high school. Her dad is famous! But somehow Keil breaths life into her, makes her vulnerable, makes her connect with Sam and his friends. Her life isn’t as fabulous as it sounds, but not in a whiny way. She’s rather down to earth about what she lacks and it’s clear she enjoys spending time at Sam’s house to avoid being alone.

I think this is honestly one of the most enjoyable contemporary YA novels I’ve read in a long time. I read it in one sitting, easily sinking into Sam’s life and that of his friends. This is a really lovely story, it’s not complicated, but it’s fabulous in that simplicity. I don’t have Sam’s passion for movies (mine is obviously books) but I love the way in which it was incorporated into the narrative. Both Camilla and Sam seek to expand the other’s horizons with movies and use them in subtle ways as well. When Sam is depressed because his parents are having difficulties, Camilla who is in another country, uses movies to cheer him up and sends him on quests in the real world. They get each other and it’s awesome. I really enjoyed watching their friendship grow and develop – Sam going from being awed by Camilla, almost intimidated by her because she’s what he sees as “cool” and “popular” to seeing her as actually Camilla, a girl he’s friends with and wants to be more with. I can’t praise the voice in this one enough. Thanks for the recommendation Mandee!


Book #115 of 2013


Life In Outer Space is book #49 for AWW2013


6 responses to “Life In Outer Space – Melissa Keil

  1. Belle says:

    Clearly I really need to read this too! Sounds awesome.

  2. […] Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Keil. A couple years ago I read Melissa Keil’s Life In Outer Space and absolutely loved the heck out of that book. This was released last year but I didn’t pick […]

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