this book is not about space


my first thought when I first heard the title of this book: SPAAAAACE!!!


this book is not about space.


honestly, if I hadn't been forewarned about the lack of space-life, my hopes would've been seriously dashed.

Life in Outer Space is about as far away from life in space as it can get--it's the story of a shy, nerdy, Australian sixteen year old, his friends, and the struggle of growing up and changing. I didn't know what to expect when I picked it up after another blog recommended it, but I'm glad I did. Why? Because this is one of the sweetest little romantic/real life books I've ever read. Right up there with Eleanor and Park. I might even like it better than Eleanor and Park, because it's different. It's not set in the past, it's not heavily laced with language, and as much as I love Park, I relate to Sam so much more.

It says on the book jacket: "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 a part of it."


That's what I love about this book. Sam didn't want to be friends with Camilla. He was happy with his life of normality, with his 3 buddies, with coming home to his silently broken family. He wanted her to leave them alone, but she wouldn't have any of it and instead barged (in the most polite way possible) into his life. In most books--and the author even makes fun of this a little--the moment when Camilla makes her first appearance should've been slow-mo, with Sam's jaw dropping, and a dramatic spring breeze flinging her hair this way and that. But it wasn't. Sam just judges her appearance and tries to determine where she's going to fall into place at this school (because, as he puts it, he's dead inside). Camilla shoulders her way into his world, and somehow, it's like they were meant to be best friends from the beginning of time, because that's what happens.

But then Sam wakes up. And he doesn't like the way things are changing, like a snowball down a mountain slope. He doesn't want to deal with that.

And then he shuts down.

you idiot.
I love Sam so much. I "clicked" with him, as it were. If I could pick out a character that I wanted to be best friends with, I'd chose him. He's sarcastic, he likes to write, he's afraid of change, and he knows what it's like to wake up and realize that he's more than attached to a certain person, and he knows what it's like to be afraid of messing it all up again. He also converses in movie quotes, which is like an Olympic sport at my house, so I think we would get along pretty well--though our taste in movies is completely different. I'm not a horror movie fan, but it was pretty neat seeing how that semi-bizarre theme meshed with the rest of the story. That, and all the Star Wars references. I died because Camilla in the last chapter. Freaking died.


The rest of the characters were also lovable, though not so much as Sam. They all could've been a little more developed in my humble opinion (not a bad thing--it made Sam shine even more), even Camilla. I liked her, but I also disliked her. Mainly because she's that golden, free girl that comes in and changes everybody else. Very cliche, in my humble opinion. She also seemed just a little TOO perfect for me--a girl who is nerdy, a musical wizard, and a brainiac. AND a social butterfly? Yeah, that's a bit much. Her "secret" (which I saw coming the moment she visited Sam's house the first time) added dimension to her character, but not much depth, and her fear didn't do much to make her seem more human. Actually, the thing that humanized her the most was when Sam was left alone and she kept making him put one step in front of the other. That was when she felt the most real to me.

Mike...what can I say about Mike? At times, he felt dreadfully absent from the story (but that's just his character, I suppose), but he also felt more developed than Camilla. The relationship between him and Sam is one of the hilarious and guy-iest friendships I've ever read. I love that, although it does play a good part in the book, Mike's sexual orientation is not a MASSIVE dramatic deal (yes, this book has a gay character in it. You have been alerted.) I'm also thankful that we avoided the terrible "I'm gay and in love with my best friend" trope, because that would have been unnecessary on all parts and waaaaaaay too heavy in the drama department of life. I also loved that Mike had other issues besides his sexual orientation--i.e., trouble in school, frustration with his friends and their idiocy, quitting judo for other reasons than a guy...he was a very real character, just a little underdeveloped.
I love that I'm using this gif for Mike, of all people... XD
Adrian and Allison...I don't know what to say about these two. Out of the five friends, they were the least developed. Allison confused me, just because of how she was a shy, grimace-y person who didn't have any friends besides the guys at the beginning of the book, and immediately after Camilla shows up, she's accepted and loved. But maybe that's just because I don't understand the science that goes into girlish interactions (and unlike Sam, I am a girl). Adrian was the obnoxious yet adorable filler character who gave Sam someone who punch and I imagine he was an adorable Ewok for prom. Like, I can't even imagine  how adorable he was. But there wasn't much else to him, aside from him coming up with the vague idea of an intervention for Mike's behalf.

I don't know what to classify this book as. It's not just a romance. It's not just a "guy" book. It's not just a girl book. It's not just a comedy. It's not just a coming of age story. It's all these things, wrapped up in something that resembles a Chipotle burrito made of words. It's substantial and it'll satisfy your craving, but you'll gobble it up fast because it's made up of such delicious words. I can almost guarantee you'll want more after taking the last bite. I know I did.

tis magic. and  good writing.
As for language alerts, it was pretty clean--the word a-se was pretty common, but these kids are sixteen. What do you expect? Mike likes the word "frakking", which is one variation of fricking that I'd never seen before. Justin semi-drops the f-word, but the author changed one letter to make it into a different word, I guess. But I was pretty impressed, language wise (or lack thereof).

Sam's life revolves around movies. Well, maybe not revolves. But they definitely are a big deal to him. He loves to dissect them, he loves to watch them, and he loves to quote them. And I can't go through this book without picking out a few of my favourite quotes. I just can't. I will try to use self control, though.

"I'm tired of not knowing things," I mumble.
Dad chuckles. "Yeah? Get used to it."
"You smell like cigarettes and...fajitas?"
"Yeah. I've had a weird day."
Mike lifts the ice pack and frowns at my face. "So which movie inspired this piece of brilliance?"
I attempt a scowl. "Not everything in my life is inspired by a movie, Michael."
Mike stares at me.
"
Karate Kid."
 "So. Are we concocting some elaborate scheme where we pretend to be twins to get your parents back together?"
"Am I supposed to know the reference?"
"Dude.
Parent Trap."
"Isn't that a Disney movie?"
"Yeah. So?"
"How gay are you, Mike?"
Mike snorts. "My cousin made me watch it last time I babysat. It was possibly the stupidest thing I've ever seen. Anyway, doubt we could pass for twins."
"Yeah. You can't pull off blond."
"You'd look even more emo with dark hair."
 “I think, because…well, I like the idea of coming up with a story that never existed before, but I don’t really want to be in charge. I don’t want to be famous. I guess I like the idea of sitting in the dark and knowing that I created the thing on screen, that it’s my story, but, like, no-one else has to know it was me. Does that make sense?”
 Her heavy winter coat is damp from the rain, and it feels like the actual Camilla is somewhere miles beneath layers of wool--but it is still her. And she is home. I want to tell her that I'm happy she's back, but the first words that slip out of my mouth are bizarre, even by my standards:
"You were gone for too long."
She pulls loose from my arms a little and peers up at me. Her face passes through a bunch of different things. For a rare second, it is serious. "I know."
"Everything just feels really...tilted," I mumble.
She squeezes my hand tightly between both of hers. "I'm sorry about your parents. I'm sorry I wasn't here when it happened. I'm sorry it's rained for ten days straight."
She grins. "And you, Sam, look great! How does it feel being an Imperial henchman?"
"Awesome. I am ready to crush all uprisings with my mindless conformity and surprisingly crap aim."
"You. Here. Sitting in a corner all by your lonesome. You're going to make me be incredibly cheesy. You know what I'm going to have to say."
"Camilla..."
She leans a little closer. "Nobody. Puts. Baby..."
"Camilla, I'm sort of, a little bit..."
"Sam, are you really going to make me finish that line?"
"...a little bit completely in love with you."
Objectively, I know the world continues to spin. The music hasn't stopped. People haven't frozen in place. There is nothing to mark that everything has changed.
"Camilla, you're one of the best friends I've ever had. You're smart and amazing and weird and probably the most beautiful person I've ever seen...and before I met you, all I wanted was just to fast-forward through everything. But, really, I think my life was just paused, or something. You...made me press play. You made everything move. And no matter where you go, or whatever you feel about me...I will love you forever for that."

Life In Outer Space was adorable and made me giggle and almost cry and I just really loved it. I mentioned this scene above, but I think my favourite part was when Camilla intervened (wow, there are a lot of best-friend-you-don't-know-what-you're-doing interventions in this book, aren't there) and sent Sam on mission after mission, to just to keep him going. My parents have never separated, unlike Sam's, but I've dealt with some pretty hard stuff in my teenaged life, and there were times when I just wanted to have a friend kick me in the rear and make me get out of my fetal position and go do something. I've only had one friend do that for me, and I have to say--it changed my life. I can't imagine how I would've made it through the past year without that friend telling me to keep pushing myself. So that part of Life in Outer Space especially spoke to me. But overall, it's an amazing book, and I recommend you go pick it up and read it.


Because, you know, nobody puts baby in a corner.

Comments

  1. Oh I absolutely LOVE this book! I grinned like a complete idiot reading it because I so related to Sam. He was the perfect example of an introvert awkward writer...and him and Camilla? Absolutely adorable. I agree about Adrian/Allison. Actually I had HUGE issues with them because of their names. I mean doesn't the brain only read like the first and last letters when it's going fast? I read really fast. So I was constantly mixing up who was saying what....which was awkward in the scene where Allison kisses Sam. I had a double take moment there. *headdesk* I NEED TO SLOW DOWN MAYBE. I just wish their names had been a bit more different?
    Still, this is one of my favourite books. x)
    Thanks for stopping by @ Notebook Sisters!

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