Life in Outer Space is a romcom in YA book form. It's cute, it's sweet, it's adorable, and it's predictable. It's a fun, fast read that doesn't demand attention but provides a lot of entertainment and pop culture references. It's full of interesting, if slightly under-characterized characters, and Keil spins her story rather well. Life in Outer Space is funny, authentic and full of great moments, though it does falter when it comes to secondary characters especially.
Where the book floundered the most for me was where the female love interest, Camilla, was concerned and how Sam acted around her. It's not a spoiler to label her the love interest because long before Sam has his "a ha!" moment, the reader is acutely clued into his feelings for her. There is a real connection between the two main characters. It just took Sam way way too long to catch on to what he wanted. Though I appreciated the slow-building of a real relationship between the two, it made the storyline feel stretched rather thin. The romance is sweet, and funny, but it could've been tighter.
-Quirky and idiosyncratic? Check. - Wild hair choices and unique approach to fashion? Do Leia buns count? I say they do -- check. -Opens up the love interest to a wider experience of (high school) life? Double check. -Fixated on the main character from the start? Oh yeah - but not in a creepy way.
There's more to both the trope and to Camilla, but she fits within the designation fairly well.
She does differ from the trope in that Camilla has a realized inner life and struggles of her own. She struggles with family issues, abandonment issues, and more. The fact that Keil fashioned her into a more evolved MPDG is what saved both Camilla and the love story. I liked her, despite how she was occasionally presented. She was interesting, she wasn't dependent on Sam for meaning, and she was funny.
The other side characters aren't as defined as Camilla and Sam. Mike seems to be sadly defined by his homosexuality, despite the author's clear attempts to do otherwise. Adrian never evolved into more than comic relief, and though the parents are featured, they lack presence. They're likeable enough, but they aren't memorable. They just seem to exist in the periphery of Sam and Camilla's love story and lack any agency on their own.
There's angst, there's romance, there's a high school dance. All in all, Life in Outer Space constitutes pretty typical contemporary fare, but it's fun to read and the nerdery of the main characters makes for a fresh feel. It could have been more original, and the secondary cast could have used some more time and definition, but it was a fun and pretty adorable read. I'd read it again, and I would recommend it to a friend looking for something light and quick. ...more
So very impressive. I loved this one. It's creepy and unpredictable and poignant and relevant and all the wonderful things. I will keep an eye on CatSo very impressive. I loved this one. It's creepy and unpredictable and poignant and relevant and all the wonderful things. I will keep an eye on Cat Winters and am eager to see where she applies her talent next....more
Fun, funny, and charming, How Zoe Made Her Dreams... is a book of so much fluff, it might just float ofRead This Review & More Like It On My Blog!
Fun, funny, and charming, How Zoe Made Her Dreams... is a book of so much fluff, it might just float off a bookshelf. It's a fast and entertaining read, full of surprisingly developed characters, but unfortunately How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True is just not on the same level as Smart Girls Get What They Want. I liked it, but it just didn't have the same impact as Strohmeyer's first. Zoe struggles with some serious issues, and I might have teared up once or twice when she confronts her issues, but the emotional pulls are few and far between. For ninety percent of the story, this is a fluffy piece, with a silly plot, operated by characters that are pretty generic, if certainly likeable.
Fans of the author's other books, and epecially Smart Girls Get What They Want will find similarities between the novels, but Zoe ultimately ends up a pale copy of its predecessor. I don't mean to knock the author's newest because I was certainly entertained while reading, but anyone who has read Smart Girls before trying this will find it just not quite as good. A lot of my issues stem from the plot and the setting - the competition among the Princes and Princesses for the grant money comes across as frivolous, and often laughable. It's charming and amusing, but never really sells the competition as a serious plot device. As a result, all the drama and suspicions set up around the Dream & Do failed to make me care about its ultimate winner.
Strohmeyer can certainly write a credible teenage voice, however. Zoe, through all her present struggles and past heartaches, comes across as authentic and consistently real teen girl. Her voice is strong and likeable, and the author's style works well for a silly but fun read. Zoe's relationship with her cousin is another strong point; the two girls have a real bond and love another. It's all too rare to find such real, strong friendships between teen girls in YA, but so far, in each novel, Strohmeyer has taken the time to build such remarkable and meaningful friendships for her female characters. For that alone, this novel is a winner. I wish Zoe had more female friends, maybe made during her time at Fairyland?, but I will not take her relationship with Jess for granted.
For a novel of such fluff, it's heartening how well characterized Zoe (and her love interest) are shown to be. While I loved Gigi, I do think Zoe ends up being the more rounded and dimensional main character. Zoe has a lot of facets to her personality, and amazingly, who she likes doesn't define her or her actions during the novel. The romance might not be as endearing as I thought Gigi's was in Smart Girls, but I have to admit I was rooting for the two kids before the end of the novel. It's a light read, and the love interest is pretty great, but I wasn't overtly involved. I just wanted more substance and depth to the plot. If I'd had that, How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True could have easily been a four-star read.
If you're looking for a charming fluff read, this is a perfect fit. A "done in one day" read, Strohmeyer's capability for writing YA is evident and lends itself well here in her second YA offering. An amusing plot with a couple twists en route make for a fun few hours spent in the company of this cast of Princes and Princesses and furries. How Zoe Made Her Dreams... may not be the best book of 2013, but it's a great diversion for a few hours of pure fluff....more