Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil (Ricki’s Review)



Life in Outer Space
Author: Melissa Keil
Published August 1st, 2013 by Peachtree Publishers

Goodreads Summary: 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?

My Review: Kellee wrote her review almost a year ago, and after reading her review, I laughed because my notes about this book are so similar to her thoughts.

While reading this book, I thought about its connections to Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli and Paper Towns by John Green, and the narrator reminded me of Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. But while this book is similar to others, it is very different.

Sam makes being geeky feel cool. I am geeky, so I appreciated this. He experiences tough life issues that many teenagers face, and he doesn’t lie about his lack of knowledge about dealing with these issues or understanding girls. The book contains scenes with World of Warcraft and there is a lot of information about horror movies (both of which aren’t interesting to me), yet I remained very engaged in the story and the characters. Keil writes the male narrator very well, and I think all types of adolescents will identify with the themes of this book. This is one of Kellee’s favorite books, and I see why. Thank you for nagging me to read it, Kel. It is one that will stick with me forever.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Why hasn’t this book received more press? It belongs in classrooms. As a teacher, I would use it as a mentor text for characterization. The scenes with Camilla are written breathtakingly well. If students read these scenes, they would want to read the entire book.

Discussion Questions: Did you find Camilla to be realistic? Could a student walk in and change the entire dynamic at the school in such a powerful way?; Why does Camilla like Sam? Is this realistic?; In what ways are media used by Keil to engage readers?; What does this book teach us about friendship?; How does Sam’s family life add to the complexity of this book?

We Flagged: “I guess some people enter your orbit and get stuck, and there’s nothing either of you can do about it” (p. 70).

And I loved the quote Kellee picked out. It is the scene I remember the most in the book:

“She is wearing a yellow dress that looks like it belongs to a 1950s housewife, and a pair of flat red boots. Her hair is longer than I’d imagine would be practical; it’s parted in the middle and hangs in brown waves almost to her waist. She peers around the room impassively. She doesn’t look terrified. She doesn’t look insanely overconfident, like Adrian that time in year seven when he performed a song as his book report for The Outsiders. Mike and I mark that event as ground zero for the downward social spiral of our group.” (p. 11)

Read This If You Loved: The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, Paper Towns by John Green, Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Recommended For: 

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2 thoughts on “Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil (Ricki’s Review)”

  1. I’ll take a look at this, but I’m so tired of books with bullying, especially when it’s the geeky kids who are bullied. We need some new topics! The percentage of geeky kids in real life and geeky kids in fiction doesn’t seem to jive! (And I, too, am a Geek-American. I thought about listing my daughter’s ethnicity as Klingon or Hobbit when I registered them for school.)

    • It’s funny—I try really hard to get a read on your tastes, and I haven’t quite figured it out yet. I am going to keep trying. I think you, and I have different perspectives. I love books on bullying because I see it so often in schools. I am of the “you can never have too many bully books” mantra because I think it is good to remind kids of this issue, but I certainly see how that might get tiresome for others.


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