book review

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

3328294711-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

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*I would like to thank Dial Books and NetGalley for having this available for a review.

See You in the Cosmos is by far the best middle-grade book I’ve read. It is about an 11-year-old kid Alex Petroski from Colorado, who loves space and rockets and astronomy. He named his dog after his hero Carl Sagan, the great astronomer. He knows a lot about space and even astronomy jokes. He is a member of an online forum, about space and rockets of course. And he even made his own rocket, the Voyager 3, to launch in a rocket festival in New Mexico. He also decided to make recordings on his Golden iPod so he can put it inside his rocket in the event that it reaches space and some intelligent beings find it. In his recordings, Alex narrated about his everyday lives and about things on Earth. Alex started his adventure alone despite the fact that he is not allowed to travel without a companion. Since then, he started meeting interesting people who help him along the way. Unintentionally, though, Alex also teaches them something about themselves.

Alex’s trip to the rocket festival led to another adventure to find more about his dead father. Coincidentally, someone with the same name and birthday has a public record in Las Vegas. And so he decided to head to Vegas instead of home with some friends he met at the festival. But Vegas is not his last stop, what happened there led him to head to LA and visit his absentee brother, Ronnie.

What started as an adventure for fun and his passion ended up as an adventure for finding out about truth, hope, love, and family.  

The moment I saw the cover I am immediately interested. But when I read the blurb, I am totally sold. And after reading just a few pages, I’m already sucked in the story. But when I actually finished it, I am left wanting more. I really like the idea that the author used recordings instead of chapters. So about 90% of the book are in Alex’s perspective. A kid’s perspective on all the things that’s happening around him. I love Alex as the main character. He is funny and smart and adorable but there were times that he is naïve on some things, too, which I totally understand. He is still a kid, anyway. Alex’s love for his family (and dog) especially his mom is really admirable, too. For a kid who’s been neglected, he chooses to be responsible and man up, he takes care of his mom instead of rebelling. Even his passion for astronomy is something I wish I have.

Everyone seem to develop a liking towards him. Even the supporting characters are remarkable especially Terra, Alex’s half-sister and Zed, the hippie bald writer. Even Ronnie, Alex’s absentee brother, is quite likeable. Maybe not at first, but after knowing his struggle, I get why he behaves like that. In one way or another, you can relate to them. I also like how each character grows throughout the story. It is something you don’t see in a lot of books. How everyone Alex meets along his way tried to help him without reservation is really amazing and not caring about how much bother it is or how much it cost them. They made the book extra fun to read.

The pacing of the book is fast and the plot is really interesting. Not much people are into astronomy, myself included, and it is such a delight to read one about a kid who’s obsessed with it. Some stuff may seem unrealistic but I don’t really care. I am enjoying it too much.

For a middle-grade book, See You in the Cosmos briefly deals with mental illness and divorce in a kid’s perspective. Which reminds me to never underestimate children’s capabilities to understand complicated issues. We may try all we want to shield them from the truth as to not hurt them or something, but it doesn’t mean that they will not understand or will get hurt less. Sometimes, they just want to hear it from the adults.

Needless to say, it is totally an enjoyable book to read though it left me teary-eyed on some instances. I feel like I found an inspiration (and motivation) through Alex Petroski.

Overall, See You in the Cosmos is a delightful and heartwarming book for middle graders but I’m pretty sure adults will enjoy it as well. It is good! Five purple hearts for this gem! I can’t recommend it highly enough.  

Go ahead, grab a copy and have fun reading!

RATING: 5/5

5hearts

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(*Photos and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Purchase it on Amazon.com: See You in the Cosmos

Purchase it on Amazon.co.uk: See You in the Cosmos

Purchase it on Amazon.fr: See You in the Cosmos

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