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Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce is a book the library consider to be a Teen book. But I think this is a book which could appeal to children younger and some adults - me included! I think this is one of the best childrens books I have read in a long time and I was quite pleasantly surprised by that.
The story is told in the first person by Liam, a 12 year old boy who is very tall for his age and keeps getting mistaken for an adult cecause of his height and as he is already starting to grow facial hair. From the very first paragraph we know that Liam is stuck on an out of control rocket in space, the rocket was on its way to orbit the moon but something went wrong. Liam narrates the story into his mobile phone in the hope that someday it might be found and his family will know what happened to him.
This is all explained in the first chapter and from then on in the story of how Liam got to be in the rocket unfolds. It start with Liam explaining just how people keep mistaking him for an adult and there are several funny stories. My favourite is the one where, on his first day at secondary school, the head mistress mistakes him for the new teacher, takes him to the staffroom and introduces him in assembly, allowing him to address the whole school.
Then we are introduced to the character of Florida, a celebrity obsessed girl who Liam teams up with at stage school on a Saturday morning. They go into town together and Liam pretends to be her dad. All fun and games until Liam allows a car salesman to persuade him to take a test drive in a porche.
Eventually Liam wins a competition for Dads to travel to a theme park in China. He has to take his child with him and so off he and Florida go, set on a path that will take them to the rocket.
During the course of the novel Liam of course meets other dads and it is quite interesting to both him, and us as readers, seeing how they behave through the eyes of a 12 year old. Liam has taken with him a copy of a book he found in his Dads room called 'How To Talk To Your Teen' which he refers to often. Florida also has ideas on how dads should behave and offers Liam plenty of tips.
The other theme which runs through this book is that of gaming. Liam is an online gamer who constantly plays World Of Warcraft, and he view every challenge he meets in life as if he were playing an online computer game. This keeps us the reader, aware of the fact that he really is only a 12 year old boy, and also adds to the humour of the book.
Liam's voice throughout the story is convincing and holds the interest. Frank Cottrell Boyce uses exactly the right level of humour to make an adult laugh out loud (me) and also to amuse children, though I suspect they laugh at completely different things.
The character of Florida is also well drawn, and she develops nicely through the story from being a celebrity obsessed airhead to realising that she can actually learn and be quite clever.
The other characters are all fairly one dimensional, but this is necessary for plot development and shouldn't be viewed as a negative. They reminded me a lot of the Dads and children in 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'. In fact there are parallels to this story in more than just the characters.
This book was a big hit with the children I read it with, although there was some contentious discussion about which character made the best dad. You'd think children would know, but clearly not!