Title: See You in the Cosmos
Author: Jack Cheng
Genre: Realistic Middle Grade Fiction
Number of Pages: 315
Some parts of this book were extremely unrealistic but the main character was so endearing I hardly cared. See You in the Cosmos is written in script form reading off of a series of audio recordings, which I’ve never seen done before but ended up working really well. An 11-year-old boy named Alex (who is definitely on the autism spectrum, even though he’s not officially diagnosed) leaves home with his dog to go to a space convention.
His mom is mentally ill and it doesn’t seem like she notices that he left, and grown-up strangers are extremely accommodating of Alex in the midst of a sketchy situation. It reminded me a little bit of cheesy 80’s movies where kids go hitchhiking across the country and there are no consequences. Quirky, nerdy Alex just wants to launch an iPod with a bunch of recordings on it into space during the convention and try to make first contact, but the disappearance of his dog leads to the adventure of a lifetime and a number of surprising realizations about his family.
I loved Alex’s character but the side characters weren’t as well-developed, partially because they were written to behave in ways that didn’t make sense to support Alex’s journey. The book still kept my interest throughout and I loved the protagonist’s narrative voice and the funny things he said and conversations he had. Sometimes this book felt like it took on too much subject matter at once (with the mother’s mental illness feeling a bit like an after-thought) but overall I thought the author did a fantastic job making you care about what happened to this character. I’m looking forward to seeing what Jack Cheng writes next.