Teen romance novels of all kinds seem to be extremely popular nowadays, but have you ever noticed that many of them involve rather average protagonists? Melissa Keil’s “Life in Outer Space” takes the high school romance clichè and twists it by starring a smart, geeky protagonist. Sam Kinnison is an aspiring screenplay writer and a huge movie nerd. He is convinced that he and his small circle of friends are destined to remain at the very bottom of the Bowen Lakes Secondary school social hierarchy, and he doesn’t plan to change that one bit. In fact, he feels the best way to get through school is to more or less ignore everyone that isn’t one of his friends. Yet this routine doesn’t last for very long because of Camilla Carter, a new student who’s lived in many different places due to her father’s gig as a traveling musician. She’s completely unlike any other girl Sam has ever met—she’s friendly and social, yet also unique and totally collected. The two of them quickly become close friends, and Sam finds himself involved in events he’d never thought he’d experience. This is a major plot twist in the movie that is Sam’s life, and before he knows it life is changing in too many ways for him to keep track of, including the fact that he now has the one thing he never thought he’d have—a crush. Will Sam keep it together throughout all the drama, or will he collapse under all the pressure?
“Life in Outer Space” stands out among the crowd of teen novels due to its colorful cast of characters. Sure, there’s a good amount of novels with one or two quirky characters, but Sam and his crew aren’t just the stereotypical unpopular kids. They all have very distinct personalities—for example, Sam is witty but somewhat negative, his best friend Mike is calculating and a hard-worker, and his friend Adrian is boisterous but more social than you would think. The way Keil writes her characters is undoubtedly one of the best parts of the book. I also really enjoyed the geeky pop culture references sprinkled about and the book’s almost passive-aggressive sense of humor. All in all, the character development and uniqueness of this book alone make it a great read for those looking for a romance novel that’s different than the norm—and yes, it’s still very enjoyable even if you don’t get the nerdy references. It also teaches you that it’s perfectly okay to be weird and that even the most unpopular people can feel like a star as long as they’re surrounded by the right friends.
Submitted by Lauren Leon