Saturday, August 12, 2017

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng


 Alex is 11 and on his way to a festival where he is going to launch the rocket he built into space.  He has been communicating online with others who are headed to the festival and has made all his plans to get there, along with his dog Carl Sagan.  Just like his hero, the human scientist Carl Sagan, Alex is planning to send messages to aliens about what life on Earth is like so he is keeping a running commentary about what he is doing.  Things don't go as planned at the festival but he learns that there is a man with the same name as his supposedly dead father living in Las Vegas and, with the help of some new friends, he delays his return home to go meet this man.

Alex is clearly labeled as 11 years old but I'm not sure the author knows exactly what an 11 year old is actually like.  At times Alex is incredibly bright and knows tons of things that are unusual for someone his age.  At other times he is unbelievably immature and naive about things.  For instance, he is totally clueless about what is happening with his mother which just doesn't ring true to me at all.  I've worked with thousands of kids during my career and the ones from homes with messed up parents know that their parents have issues and are actively covering up those problems to others.  I can suspend my disbelief that the adults he runs into are just helpful people and not super predators, but I couldn't get over the stream of consciousness ramblings of Alex as the book wore on.  It was cute at first when he would ramble for quite awhile along the lines of "first this happened and then that happened and then this other thing happened" but it got pretty grating to me and was just a further example that he was fairly young in his thoughts. 

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