Age Group: Middle Grade
Publishing Date: July 30th 2008 by MacMillian UK
Summary: Liam Nelson is a kid trying to enjoy his young life...by sitting in front of his computer every day playing World of Warcraft. But the few times he does go out in public, he isn't seen as a 12 year old. He's got some sort of disorder where he looks like a 30 year old. His crazy antics go from (almost) riding a brand new Porsche out side of the car showroom, to having to ride on a roller coaster for a whole day. But nothing tops him entering the Drax Communications contest. It's a father-son sweepstakes, and the prize is "the biggest thrill ride in the universe". Not on Earth. The Universe. The winners...get to go to space. Liam, without his parents knowing, enters and after a bunch of lucky breaks, he somehow gets in. He somehow convinces to get Florida, one of his friends and a twelve year old girl, to come with him. When they get there, he is fascinated by the rocket and all the cool machinery that go along with. He is extremely excited to get to go to space until
he learns that only the kids get to go to space because "they're the future, and will pioneer long distance space travel" Liam, infuriated, wants to take Florida home, but they can't. Because of a bunch of legal documents he'd signed and because their parents would find out they're not at a summer camp for gifted kids, they have to stay. Then, a contest is introduced, to find who's going to be the one dad our of four to join the kids in space. Through a rigrous course, four dads: A genius, a leader, a billionaire, and a kid, fight to get into space. But when liftoff day comes, does Liam get to go to space? What if it isn't worth it, what if...something horrible went wrong? Frank Cottrell Boyce, writer of praised book Millions, writes a fantastic book that is literally out of this world.
What I liked: I like the mischievous personality of the main character Liam. Most people would be scared what other people would think if they were as tall as an average adult male and had the aging qualities to back it up, but Liam turns his odd quality into a positive. He tries to really live life to his fullest and while that might include breaking some rules, it turns into a gigantic positive after he wins the sweepstakes. It also had what I like to call the "bumpy road" plot structure. Evenly spaced throughout the books are different challenges the main character needs to overcome, until of course, the climax, where things get interesting, meaning that there is always solid action 24/7, while some books decide to suspend all the action and put it all on you at the climax. Also, Stuart Gibbs recommends this book, which is always a plus.
What I didn't like: Nothing major really. Just a few minor tweaks such as how the author told you who got picked as the dad who gets to go to space, or maybe the fact that Florida is a little too much like your normal teenage girl, and while that isn't the worst thing, it would've been cooler if she stood out a bit more than a sterotypical teenage girl (although knowing literally everything about every living celebrity is a pretty cool quality). It really is a great book.
Rating on 'the scale': 9.2 out of 10
Why? I mean it's a great book. Plot is amazing. Loved each of the character personalities. But science fiction isn't really my thing. I'm sure a Sci-Fi lover would put this in the upper nines or even give this a perfect ten, but for me, I like more realistic books so sorry Sci-Fi, you get a one point deduction :'(. This book is to me, an 8.5 (Minus 1 point for Sci-Fi and .3 for the minor tweaks) and it gets .5 extra points just for getting recommended by Stuart Gibbs.
Related: The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet by Eleanor Cameron/ Space Case (Series) by Stuart Gibbs