May 19, 2015

Life in Outer Space - Melissa Keil

Life in Outer Space book cover
Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
Publication Date: February 1, 2013
Source/Format: Borrowed from the library || e-book

Sam is a geek movie-buff with a ragtag group of loser friends who have been taking abuse from the popular kids for years. But when the super-cool Camilla moves to town, she surprises everyone by choosing to spend time with Sam's group. Suddenly they go from geek to chic, and find that not everything boils down to us and them. With their social lives in flux, Sam and Camilla spend more and more time together. They become the best of friends, and Sam finds that he's happier and more comfortable in his own skin than ever before. But eventually Sam must admit to himself that he's fallen in love. If he confesses his true feelings to Camilla, will everything change again?

I'm trying to keep it together, friends, but I can't stop a silly grin from taking over my face whenever I think about Life in Outer Space. Right from the start, I knew I was going to love it, and true enough, I did. This novel is just so utterly delightful. It hits all my sweet spots - characters that come alive off the page, a simple yet engaging plot and very readable writing. 

Life in Outer Space stands out among other contemporary YA novels, at least in my opinion. Coming off such a fun read, I wanted to do something a little different for this review. I'll be sharing five songs that I think fit this story perfectly. Translation: this will be a soundtrack (a nod to Sam's love of movies and Camilla's love of music) of sorts. Without further rambling, here are five reasons (in song) that you should pick up a copy of this book!

"No one could ever know me / no one could ever see me
Seems you're the only one who knows what it's like to be me
Someone to face the day with, make it through all the rest with
Someone I'll always laugh with / even at my worst, I'm best with you"
(I'll Be There For You - The Rembrandts)

Sure, it's a bit of a predictable choice, but I couldn't kick off my playlist without paying homage to the amazing set of friends that Sam has in this novel - Alison, Mike, Adrian, and eventually Camilla. These guys are each other's people; they just get each other. They've each got very individual tastes and attitudes, but they also happen to be a solid unit of support, encouragement and companionship for one another - through good and bad.

"Cause all I know is we said hello /
Your eyes look like coming home / 
All I know is a simple name / 
And everything has changed."
(Everything Has Changed - Taylor Swift feat. Ed Sheeran)

Camilla is the new girl in town, and she's quite the whirlwind. She definitely is the type to leave an impression, and not just because her dad is known for his career! She's fun, smart and straightforward, and I particularly love that she's really friendly without discrimination. From the moment she makes an appearance in Sam's life, things start to change. And it's not just for him, but for his friends and for Camilla too, but more on that below.

"When you're happy like a fool / let it take you over
When everything is out / you've got to take it in
Oh, this has gotta be the good life"
(Good Life - One Republic)

At the beginning, Sam and his original set of friends (Alison, Adrian, Mike) are sticklers for their comfortable routine. They've figured out the best ways to avoid getting picked on, and that involves basically being invisible to the rest of the school population. But once Camilla inserts herself into their little group, she injects new life into their days. She, simply put, brings them (as a group and as individuals) out of their shells, resulting in some pretty epic experiences and life changes. And they, as a group, ground her, give her a bit of foundation and stability, which she's never really had before.

"I don't wanna be needing your love 
I just wanna be deep in your love
And it's killing me when you're away"
(Sugar - Maroon 5)

Camilla, with her vivaciousness and fearlessness, shakes up Sam's world. While he initially doesn't know what to make of her, he eventually discovers that she fits perfectly into the machinery of his daily life. The way these two develop a friendship, sharing their fears and dreams, accomplishments and problems, is utter perfection. And when Sam realizes that he might be feeling differently towards Camilla? It's just the right combination of awkward, crazy and awesome as he comes to terms with it.

"We reach the top / we took the fall
But we laughed through it all 
Cause dreaming of them better days / has always been our way
And you may see my friends and find no worth
But no, I'll never go and change them for the world"
(Hail, Rain or Sunshine - The Script)

In the end, though there happens to be a bit of romance, and a little bit of family/home life too, this novel is all about friendship. I loved the group dynamic that Keil captures, loved the individual characters and their quirky personality traits, loved the way that the ups and downs of friendship are written into this novel. It's seriously so well done! By the end, I wanted to be a part of the group too, and hang out with Alison, Adrian, Mike, Sam and Camilla.

In conclusion, you should most definitely get your butt to a bookstore or library and grab Life in Outer Space. It's seriously left the best impression, as I've been smiling the entire time I've typed out this review. You'll love Sam, Camilla and the rest of these friends - and the story is pretty damn compelling too. Obviously, Life in Outer Space has earned a strong "HELL YES" recommendation from me, so go and get it now!


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