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See You in the Cosmos: 12/23/17
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng is written as a series of audio file transcripts. Now I've read and enjoyed books that use this technique before — namely 0.4 and 1.4 by Mike Lancaster. But this time, the conceit didn't work for me.
Alex Petroski and his dog Carl Sagan head out by train from Colorado to Los Angeles via New Mexico and Las Vegas. He's on a quest to record awesome sounds and stories for his rocket like was done with Voyager.
The other half of this set up is that Alex is leaving home — leaving an unhealthy where his mother can't take care of herself let alone him. He's been doing everything including the grocery shopping, while also being part of the rocket club, and going to school.
Part of what put me off from the get go is Alex's cheerfulness. It's not that he's optimistic that things will work out — he's just HAPPY. Unnaturally so. Naively so. More so than I would expect someone going through what he's gone through to be.
I even tried this book as an audiobook and the narrator reads Alex's monolog in an over the top happy voice that I just couldn't make it through the entire book that way.
What Alex reminded me most throughout was Russell from Up (2009). What saved Russell from being intolerable and his cheerfulness unbelievable is that he wasn't the main character of the film. His behavior could be seen through the filter of a depressed and grieving old man who was trying to have one last adventure. Alex as the protagonist here doesn't have that. He's unfiltered and it doesn't work.