Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2013 – Rachel’s Wrap-Up

See the AWW13 Challenge we set ourselves here

So, I predicted I would not finish my challenge about mid-way through 2013, and unfortunately, I was right. I read 5 out of 7, with 3 of them being DNF. There is absolutely nothing about reading 7 books in a year that is difficult for me, but for some reason, I just didn’t end up reading all the ones I put on my list, despite reminding myself I needed to every few months. HOWEVER, I know I read over 7 Australian books by female writers in 2013, so I’m going to be a bit of a cheater and rate books not on my list and review a book not on my list (you can see my original list here).

1 star – What the living shit did I just read? How did this get published? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?

2 stars – I finished it, I did not like it and I would not recommend it.

3 stars – I enjoyed it and I will probably read it again one fine day when my TBR pile isn’t 300+. I may or may not recommend it.

4 stars – I really, really liked it. I will definitely reread it and recommend to others!

5 stars – Love. It’s love. Straight onto my favourites shelf. I will be unable to shut up about this book and be constantly forcing it on family, friends, random strangers…

My Ratings:

The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta – 5 stars

Endless amounts of love for this book. At this point, I am going to suggest you check out our blog if you haven’t already done so. In it, you will find endless rantings about how much I (and Annette) love this and other Melina Marchetta books.  You can also find my thoughts on the novel here.

Divine Clementine by Hayley S. Kirk – 2.5 stars

All This Could End by Steph Bowe – 3.5 stars

Friday Brown by Vikki Wakefield – 4 stars

Suburban Freak Show by Julia Lawrinson – 3 stars

Saltwater Moons by Julie Gittus – 2 stars

Stolen by Lucy Christopher, Love Like Water by Meme McDonald & Chain Of Hearts by Maureen McCarthy were my DNF books

My Review:

Life In Outer Space by Melissa Keil – 4 stars

Set in Melbourne, the story follows MC Sam Kinnison, Star Wars + horror movie fanatic, and his small group of fellow geeks as they navigate their way through their penultimate year of high school. Sam is happy enough with the status quo, until new girl Camilla Carter walks into the IT office and turns his world upside-down.

Life In Outer Space was one of those books that I’d-read-about-was-really-excited-for-hurry-up-release-date, then completely forgot about until I saw it sitting on the shelf in Dymocks. I was actually shopping with Annette at the time and we decided to treat ourselves to one book each (although, to be honest, I was going to buy it anyway). I started it a few days after buying it and ended up devouring it in one day. I loved it. It made me happy and it’s not often I read a book that made me laugh and smile as hard as this one did. It was refreshing to read something that wasn’t too deep and didn’t leave me wrecked with sad feels for days after (not that I don’t love that), or worse; a book that fell short of my expectations and made me feel like I wasted my time on.

At the start of LiOS, Sam is just coasting along, barely surviving the horror that is high school and Camilla is just what he needs to shake him awake from his ordinary existence. While I didn’t find Sam particulary swoon-worthy, I loved his internal monologue. Melissa Keil hit the nail on the head with a perfect blend of humour and wit and Sam’s confusion over how the effortlessly cool Camilla was changing things for himself and his misfit friends was very entertaining to read.

I fell in love with stoic Mike, idiotic Adrian and quirky Allison just as much as Sam and Camilla.

‘Mike is beside me, expressionless and silent, as is his MO in any public setting. With his brown hair and brown clothes, Mike blends in to most backgrounds. I’m half-expecting him to develop the ability to change skin colour as well, like a cuttlefish.’

‘Adrian appears beside me, glaring down the corridor. He has his about-to-open-a-can-of-whoop-arse face on. Objectively, Adrian Radley has zero cans of whoop-arse to open.’

‘On my other side, Allison Winfield is doodling on her loose-leaf with a chewed on Hello Kitty pencil. She looks sideways at me and grimaces. She grimaces a lot. I don’t always understand why. But in spite of the Hello Kitty, I know that a habitual grimacer is one of my people.’

Some of my favourite parts:

– Sam’s method in his determination to get to the bottom of Mike’s ‘downward spiral’ (which is, of course, inspired by a movie) in the last quarter of the book was when I was laughing the most.

– The explanation of the Extremely Gay Weekend. Hahaha

– Sam and Camilla’s speeches to each other at the end of the book.

So to sum up, Life In Outer Space is a stunning debut novel. It’s light and fun and you’ll finish it with a big smile on your face… and maybe a toothache from the sweetness. Definitely go out and buy it, you won’t regret it!


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