Book Review: Life in Outer Space – Melissa Keil

Life-in-Outer-Space-Book-Review-Melissa-Keil-She-Latitude

Title: Life in Outer Space (2013)
Author: Melissa Keil
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Extent: 305 pages
Release Date: February 1, 2013
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

Sam Kinnison is a geek, and he’s totally fine with that. He has his horror movies, his nerdy friends, World of Warcraft – and until Princess Leia turns up in his bedroom, he doesn’t have to worry about girls.

Then Sam meets Camilla. She’s beautiful, friendly and completely irrelevant to his life. Sam is determined to ignore her, except that Camilla has a life of her own – and she’s decided that he’s going to be part of it.

Sam believes that everything he needs to know he can learn from the movies … but now it looks like he’s been watching the wrong ones.

Review

How do I begin to review Life in Outer Space? The first thing you need to know, I guess, is that this book is more about the simple things in life. If you take a teenage boy and ask him to genuinely write a diary about his day-to-day life, Life in Outer Space would probably be quite close to it. This is not to say that the book is boring, not at all — in fact, it’s actually funny, relatable, and geeky in the best possible way.

The plot of Life in Outer Space is not terribly uncomplicated: Geek Boy goes about his own life until New Girl comes in. Boy discovers that Girl is beautiful and into the things that he is. There is some Teenage Drama involving jealousy, best friends, family, and future goals. Somehow, all of this might sound like the book will be a dull read, but there is something special in the way Keil tells this story: it’s in the voice of the main character.

I’m not entirely sure how I figure into this scenario. I’ve always imagined myself as that disposable member of the crew who gets killed first and who no-one remembers anyway. Judging by the look Justin gives me as he walks away, I have just been upgraded to the guy who later has his entrails smeared all over the corridor walls.

Sam is your classic geek: he watches horror/sci-fi movies religiously, he plays World of Warcraft, he makes references to films like no tomorrow. The story is told in first person via Sam’s perspective, and since he’s a funny guy, his humour pervades pretty much every scene. Occasionally, his internal monologue reads like a movie script too, which makes the whole book overall just an easy, light-hearted read.

Camilla, the love interest, first struck me as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl (you know, the bubbly, quirky, uncommitted type), but as the story unfolds, she became so much more than that. She was bubbly, yes, but she was also vulnerable. She was quirky for sure, but her fears, goals and insights were also relatable. She might seem uncommitted, but underneath that we saw that it was just how she’s learned to cope with moving around so much.

“And anyway, it’s not always about fitting in, [Sam].”

“It’s not?”

“Nope. Sometimes, it’s about reading your environment real quick, and then finding the bits that fit you.”

The other characters are also highly entertaining. There’s Mike, Sam’s BFF, who’s super stoic and uncommunicative but really just wants Sam to be happy. There’s Adrian, super socially awkward with little regard to cues. There’s Allison, who’s obsessed with Hello Kitty and anime/manga and is the sole group of their quartet. Seeing them through Sam’s eyes, you really understand why these guys are close friends.

There are a lot of movie references scattered throughout the story to big-name titles such as Alien, X-Men, Harry Potter, etc. but these are not alienating to the non-movie-watcher reader, although having passable knowledge on these things would probably make the scenes funnier. Keil also elaborates on the more specific ones, so you shouldn’t get lost either way.

There is a scene in the very first Alien movie, where the alien spawn bursts out of the guy’s chest and scarpers off inside the spaceship. Everyone else just stands around, mouths hanging open, brains unable to process what has taken place in front of them.

I have a feeling that Camilla Carter has just created her very own alien-exploding-out-of-a-chest-cavity moment.

I don’t normally comment on the setting of contemporary novels because, well, it’s contemporary, but I feel like I have to with this one. Life in Outer Space is set in Melbourne, where yours truly is currently stationed, and man oh man, it really does feel like it. Keil makes references to several local places — pop culture shop Minotaur being one of them — and every time I encountered one of these references, I did a little dance inside. This part of the book was pure fun for me. 😛

The ending is kind of predictable because you’d know where the story is going from the very start. Some books can be totally without twists and turns and just be as enjoyable, however, and Life in Outer Space is definitely one of those books. As they say, it’s not the destination that matters; it’s the journey — and what a fun, entertaining journey this was. 🙂

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52 thoughts on “Book Review: Life in Outer Space – Melissa Keil

  1. I’ve been meaning to check this one out, but I was afraid that Camilla was going to be too, well, you said Manic Pixie Dream girl. I’m really tired of them; it seems that’s all authors are capable of writing these days. But if she’s not really one then, I think it’s time to give it a read! Thanks for the great review!

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    • Definitely check it out! I borrowed it from the library because I wasn’t too sure about it myself, haha. I actually haven’t read a lot of MPDGs in books, but I’ve seen TONS in movies… and I found Camilla to have more depth than them. Hope you like the book! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This one sounds like a great read! Glad you liked it. I might give it a try someday. Great review!

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  3. Reg you are adding so many books to my to-read list! And I actually moved this one close to the top because it actually sounds amazing, and I feel like at some point I may need a light contemporary to read for a change from my usual genre! I think it will be interesting to see the character development, because both Sam and Camilla could come across as stereotypes (the classic geek and the manic pixie dream girl) but from the sound of your review that doesn’t seem to be the case.
    Also I feel like the setting would make me want to visit Melbourne and, well, I love any book that makes me want to travel to new places! 😀
    Great review!

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    • Mission accomplished! I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this myself – it was sweet and cute and definitely a great yet light-hearted novel if that’s what you like. 🙂

      I admit I’m usually a bit softer on male protagonists than female protagonists, just because they’re quite rare, but I do think Sam’s adorable! And COME TO MELBOURNE. You don’t need a reason to fly over here. ❤️

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      • Every so often I do love sweet, cute and light-hearted novels. It’s something I never need to really be in the mood to read but something I always love reading!
        Oh they’re definitely rare, I can probably count on one hand how many books I’ve read with male protagonists. And Melbourne is definitely on my travel bucket list! 😀 It’s a long way from England so I’d need to plan a long trip though to really get the most from the experience ❤

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              • Oh same here, it’s not too bad at first but then eventually after a couple of hours it’s just horrible and cramped and uncomfortable!
                God I would love it if teleportation was invented. I think I’d be willing to spend the money for the convenience! 😀

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                • Yeees, I know! And I’m especially sad when the seats don’t have a USB charger, haha. I need to know that my phone won’t die when I’m reading on it. I also NEED an entertainment screen even though I might just end up playing around with it instead of actually watching something…

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                    • Fair enough! I think I do most of my mucking around on my phone, and my battery’s kind of dead already… so a USB charger is often the difference between 8 hours of fun or like, 2 hours of fun and 6 hours of boredom. xD

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                    • Oh I feel that way when I’m not near a USB charger and my phone goes dead. I use it on the train a lot into work and if I’m away from the office all day I have no chance to recharge it. The worst is when you’re trying to save the last little bit of battery you have, only for your phone to die right in the middle of you doing something important! :/

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                    • Yeees. My phone’s about 3-4 years old now and the battery’s as good as dead so I have to charge it twice a day… and with Pokemon Go, it pretty much dies in 45 minutes, HAHA. I probably should get a new one with longer battery life. :/

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                    • My phone is barely a year old and I’ve already noticed the battery life steadily going down and down, obviously the more I use it the quicker it dies on me but normally I can get away with one charge a day
                      Oh you’ve joined the Pokemon Go craze then. I still don’t get what all the fuss is about but maybe if I download the app I will! 🙂

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                    • I have, haha. I have been playing the Pokemon games since I was a kid so it’s kind of natural I’d pick this one up too… and judging from the crowds on the streets, I think most are playing for nostalgia as well. You should try it out to see if you like it – the crashes and freezes are REALLY annoying, but the game itself is kind of fun. ❤

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                    • My friends have already recommended it to me, but my phone has such little space I’d need to delete literally everything else on it, and even then I wonder if I’d have enough space.
                      Two of my friends are already obsessed with the game, I went out with them last night and I was asked to stop the car (I was the designated driver) twice so they could catch Pokemon :/

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                    • Yeah, I need WordPress on my phone at least! 🙂
                      Not too sure actually, the names don’t really mean much to me, but one of my friends caught a pikachu on the way to the bar. She wanted it to be the first one she caught!

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  4. I’m glad you liked this book 😄 it’s sounds cute and geeky and full of fandom which I know you’ve been looking for. I might check it out.
    P.S I do that whenever Venezuela is mentioned, it even happened on Friends once!

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