I absolutely adored Katie Kennedy’s debut novel last year, Learning to Swear in America. So I was all-in for her sophomore follow-up, What Goes Up. Here’s more about it:
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.
Just like Learning to Swear in America, What Goes Up has a NASA/spacey angle to the plot – which as a total space exploration geek, is right up my alley. I loved that Kennedy set this book in the not-too-distant future — in our familiar world, but with some added tech capabilities. A few subtle references, and her world is easy to accept and move into for the sake of the story.
I loved the characters, not just Rosa and Eddie – but some of the supporting players really stand-out and make this more of an ensemble story than focusing on these two teens alone. Their personalities and quirks make them so endearing, and it’s part of what I love about Kennedy’s writing, is her ability to bring these characters to life.
The plot is wacky and wild and totally out there, but somehow she makes it work. The two halves of the book are a little disjointed, with the first half focusing on the competition and training and the second half focusing on the world-saving plot line. But ultimately, the characters’ story arcs come full circle and what we get is the wildest, weirdest coming of age story set against a crazy science fiction backdrop, with a heavy dose of comedy and just a dash of romance.
Look for What Goes Up in stores July 18th.