WHAT GOES UP: High Octane YA Sci-Fi

Lynn: For 200 carefully selected teens, a hangar in the cornfields of Iowa is where their future will be decided. They’ve made it this far, but now the tests have gotten really tough. Only two young people will be chosen to join NASA’s Interworld Agency, which has decided to add a third team to its roster. The agency is Earth’s first line of defense against the aliens, and suddenly, there are rumors that alien contact may be imminent.

What Goes Up by Katie KennedyDoes a high-stakes trial with teens against teens sound a tad familiar? In her second book,  What Goes Up (2017), Katie Kennedy makes the idea entirely her own. She focuses on the top competitors as they start through the tests: Rosa, trained her whole life by famous scientist parents; Eddie, whose horrifying background has taught him to think waaay outside the box; brainy Trevor; and privileged Brad. Kennedy wastes no time, jumping right into the tests as wildly imaginative as they are captivating. Let me just say that the scorpion-in-the-box test is worth the price of the book all itself. Add hilarious dialogue, characters that become intensely sympathetic, and a series of high-octane plot twists, and you have a book that is impossible to put down.

This is the sort of science fiction that makes use of real science. Kennedy provides enough explanation of the facts without slowing the pace of the story or limiting her audience to future physics majors. Give this wild ride through the galaxy to teens looking for something smart, wicked funny, and above all entertaining.

Thanks, Katie Kennedy for blasting me right out of a reading slump!

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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