“Who are you?

What do you look like?”

The wild-eyed curiosity of 11-year-old Alex Petroski (the central character of the novel See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng) grabs one’s attention from the very beginning. And, not only grabs your attention, but swirls it, bounces it around and holds it tight and undivided till the very last page.

You may have read books in which you have identified with the protagonist, but I doubt you have ever thought of the protagonist as one of your best friends. The character of Alex is so dynamic that you feel like you are growing up alongside him. To read this book is to learn or rediscover things about life, to remember things about your own life and the people and the whole universe which you grew up in. It’s all about discovering the meaning of love, bravery and truth among many other things. Alex’s childish innocence brings a humorous vibe to the story but at the same time it is what makes his character so much more believable and real.

“…One time Benji asked me do I feel bad about not having a dad and I asked him, Do you feel bad about not having a dinosaur? Benji said he’s not sure because he’s never had one, and I said I feel the same way about a dad. Benji said it’d be so cool to have a triceratops though…”

If I’m getting ahead of myself, it’s only because it’s difficult to hold in one’s excitement when reviewing such a rejuvenating and original novel. In a standard review you would have read the premise of the book being reviewed by now – so here it is: Alex is an 11-year-old boy with a responsibility level of at least a 13-year-old. He is obsessed with rockets and astronomy and the story begins with his first rocket launch at a rocket convention (to which he goes by himself), followed by a discovery that takes him across the US in a search that’s assisted by his family and friends – many of whom he meets along the way. The story is told in the first person by Alex himself, through audio recordings he creates on his iPod so that he can send it into space for aliens to find and learn more about our planet.

 

There are so many things I could write to describe the story – as it’s filled with interesting events, meetups and fascinating characters such as: Steve, Zed, Terra, Ronnie, the older kid, Alex’s dog Carl Sagan (named after Alex’s favorite astronomer) …and the list goes on and on. But going into more detail will spoil the book for you, and you will definitely enjoy experiencing the story for yourself.

Kivlighan de Montebello
Kivlighan de Montebello

Instead, I will recommend for you to pick up the audio book of See You in the Cosmos as this is the perfect way to immerse yourself into Alex’s world. It is vividly narrated by a young actor by the name of Kivlighan de Montebello and, thanks to him, one can feel the excitement, sadness, confusion, joyfulness and even determination of the book’s protagonist.

See You in the Cosmos is aimed at young readers, but the themes it features, and the way the story is told, ensures that readers of all ages will enjoy it. For fans of the Coming-of-Age genre it is a must and I don’t hesitate to extend my highest recommendation.

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