Action-packed and wildly funny, this near-future sci-fi features three teens on an inter-dimensional mission to save the world.
Rosa and Eddie are among hundreds of teens applying to NASA’s mysterious Multi-World Agency. After rounds of crazy-competitive testing they are appointed to Team 3, along with an alternate, just in case Eddie screws up (as everyone expects he will). What they don’t expect is that aliens will arrive from another dimension, and look just like us. And no one could even imagine that Team 3 would be the only hope of saving our world from their Earth-destroying plans. The teens steal the spacecraft (it would be great if they knew how to fly it) and head to Earth2, where the aliens’ world and people are just like ours. With a few notable exceptions.
There, the teens will find more than their alternate selves: they’ll face existential questions and high-stakes adventure, with comedy that’s out of this world.
Description taken from Goodreads. I received an advance copy of this book, published July 18th, 2017, in exchange for a honest review. These opinions are my own.
There’s been a trend of space-related novels in the genre recently, and I’ve looked forward to many of them. In fact, two of them were in my Diversify 2017 event (Dare Mighty Things and Nyxia). But more so than the other space books I’ve read recently, What Goes Up was the sci-fi novel I was looking for this year. It took all the good parts of Kennedy’s debut novel Learning to Swear in America and meshed them together with some new ideas to create a story that’s respectable both in the literary sense and in the entertainment sense.
Perhaps what I loved most about What Goes Up was how it kicked off right from the beginning. The action was one part of it, but what caught me off-guard was how personal the characters were. I felt like I knew them and could see what they were going through. They were intelligent kids like in Learning to Swear in America but without the slogging pace and the impersonal narration.
Plus, I’m a sucker for great training scenes. Blame it on my anime background, but this book had me reminiscing back to the trials from the early days of Naruto and Hunter x Hunter. I very seldom see this kind of intense and intricate training in any American media, and it was refreshing to see it portrayed in a book.
Where tones of Learning to Swear in America did come through was in the middle. There just wasn’t a whole lot going on because it was mainly used as a transitional period between the training/trials and the main premise, and the story started to drag. It definitely helped that I was much more invested in the characters in this one. Once the romance and the premise picked up, things moved pretty quickly. It wasn’t terribly realistic, but it was fun to follow, and there were surprising twists. I also loved the focus on having supportive and challenging adults around the main characters.
Overall, I’d say Kennedy’s either matured a lot as a writer, she has a fantastic editor, or Learning to Swear in America was a fluke. All things considered, I’ll be much more excited about her upcoming releases now. In addition to being a solid addition to YA sci-fi, the story talked a little bit about good and evil and the challenges Rosa and Eddie faced to get to where they are. I’d like to see Kennedy go further in this direction in the future. 3 stars.