Title: What Goes Up
Author: Katie Kennedy
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Synopsis (from Amazon):
Rosa and Eddie are among hundreds of teens applying to NASA’s mysterious Interworlds Agency. They’re not exactly sure what the top-secret program entails, but they know they want in. Rosa has her brilliant parents’ legacies to live up to, and Eddie has nowhere else to go–he’s certainly not going to stick around and wait for his violent father to get out of jail. Even if they are selected, they have no idea what lies in store. But first they have to make it through round after round of crazy-competitive testing.
And then something happens that even NASA’s scientists couldn’t predict . . .
Why I Think Boys May Enjoy This
What makes this book so pleasant of a science fiction is that it starts definitively as a realistic coming-of-age story. While later in the story, the science fiction elements become more important, What Goes Up focuses more on the science than the fiction. The alternating point-of-views between Rosa and Eddie give two very complete and complex characters a chance to share two very different worlds. Rosa comes from intelligence and success and is one of the best because she was raised and expected to be. Eddie is more of your Good Will Hunting poor genius archetype, albeit with some cool heritage of his own that comes about during the course of events. In the first half of the book (the competitive element between all the teens invited), they demonstrate how being the “best” doesn’t take only one type of approach.
Once the science fiction elements overtake the high school (albeit a very competitive and high level one full of super smart teens), the plot hits the ground like a fast-paced but teen version of a John Scalzi novel. The science is believable enough for those that buy into the theory of multiple universes, but Kennedy cares more about telling a fun and enjoyable story than the depth of the science itself. This is in no way an insult. I, for one, prefer light sci-fi that focuses enough on the science to get me into the world-building but not so much that every minute detail must be “real” or “believable” for it to matter. Just enjoy the ride.
The fast pace Earth-hopping story is a super fun read as you move along. The supporting cast of characters were a little stock at times, but Reg (their trainer and the only adult character who isn’t somewhat antagonistic or demeaning to the kids) really took the cake as a deep and fantastic mentor, who also had plenty of his own humor. All in all, this was a really fun read and I’m glad to have picked it up!
Even though the characters are in their late teens, there is pretty much no major content warnings. Any violence is PG13, language is minimal, and there is no sexual content to worry about. There is a scene of underage drinking, but it makes sense considering one of the character’s family history and low self-esteem. Therefore, this scene adds to the coming-of-age elements instead of serving as a “I want to make my teen get drunk for lulz” type of scene. This book is more than appropriate for the late middle grade/high school crowd of 12+.