11-year-old Alex loves space. He has been recording sounds from Earth on his golden iPod, to launch into space on a rocket so that alien lifeforms can find it and hear about life on Earth. He and his dog, Carl Sagan (named after his hero), travel to the Southwest High-Altitude Rocket Festival to launch the rocket and iPad, where his journey takes an unexpected turn, landing him in Las Vegas in search of his father.
We are told the story in the form of recordings on the iPod, as Alex travels from Colorado to New Mexico to Vegas to L.A and home again, recording all kinds of things to send to his friends in space. This style of narration took a bit of getting used to but was effective and original. The feel of the book reminded me a lot of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, but with a very different storyline. The plot is quite fast-moving, and at times difficult to follow because we only get to know what Alex is able to record, but it’s a fun way to read.
I liked the range of characters. Alex is a brilliant lead, full of questions with an interesting take on the world, and I love dogs so Carl Sagan was obviously a delight. The characters they meet along the way are all interesting and – mostly – likeable, especially Terra and Zed. I didn’t like Ronnie at all to begin with but he is an important part of the story, uncovering some of the mystery behind how an 11-year-old was able to hop on a train to another state all by himself.
Although this is ultimately a children’s story, some of the content is pretty heavy and moving. I would definitely recommend it to adults as well.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.