ARC Review: What Goes Up by Katie Kennedy

review         book

Book Covertitle: What Goes Up
author: Katie Kennedy
pages: 336
format: Paperback ARC
buy it: Amazon | B&N | Goodreads
rating: 4/5 (from hated to loved) or 7.5/10 (all books I've ever read)
recommended for: Fans of The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness, Denton Little's Death Date by Lance Rubin, and other tongue-in-cheek light sci-fi.
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.

in depth

  • I thought the book would focus more on the competition, but I was wrong. It took up a big chunk of the beginning and was really clever and fun, but more of the book focused on what happens after. Kennedy masterfully mixes humor and poignancy in telling the story of Rosa and Eddie struggling to prove themselves to the IAA, to each other, to their own standards. Plus alien mayhem (not like tentacle aliens, though) and some zipping through other dimensions. It has strong emotional beats but is also wildly funny. 

  • The main cast is lovely and relatively diverse. There's Eddie, white Indiana farmboy with a dad in prison and a genius grandma; Rosa, Chinese supergenius with two supportive parents who happen to be nationally renowned scientists; Reg, a Southern black pilot who's grieving his lost copilot and training his new ducklings. Eddie and Rosa are our POVs, with distinct voices and personalities. They make a lovely contrast: the Hermione-esque, brilliant rule-follower meets the innovative, rule-bending wild card.

  • Half the fun of the work is watching Eddie and Rosa discover their own talents and each other’s, learning how to complement each other. There’s obvious friction in the beginning. One is the obvious genius shoe-in; the other is constantly underestimated. They’re both well fleshed-out, with personal motivations and insecurities that make them active drivers of their own plot. Although, it feels like a story about Eddie more than about Eddie and Rosa. He’s got the most to prove and the most to lose. Maybe it only felt that way because I connected to him most.

  • Science fiction can get hand-wavey, but I thought Kennedy did a great job of making a realistic near-future world. I’m no expert in quantum physics, but what I do know seemed to gel with her world, and she doesn’t get into too many tedious details. Nor does she throw in things like Tribbles and little green men that could seem campy. Hers is a near-future sci-fi, an Earth on the cusp of interdimensional exploration. Although, given that, I thought there’d be more fun tech, like wristband computers or something.

  • If you want a funny read with a lot of heart and a breakneck plot, What Goes Up is just the thing. I can’t believe it hasn’t gotten more hype. There’s just something so pure about it, in a market dominated by gritty darkness. Which I love--but sometimes you need your philosophy with a side of slapstick, and Kennedy serves it up admirably.

      in a sentence

      What Goes Up is a witty near-future science fiction with charming characters and breakneck action. 


      will i read this author again?  Yes   
      will i continue the series?  I really hope there's a sequel!   

      Note: I received this copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.

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