Tuesday, July 8, 2008

One Small Step by P.B. Kerr (thanks to Chelsea for the book)

It's 1969, and thirteen-year-old Scott is doing all the things that normal boys do--and also flying airplanes with his Air Force flight-instructor father. When Scott successfully crash-lands a training plane (that he wasn't even supposed to be flying), NASA recruits him for their secret space program. NASA is planning a test flight with chimps before the real lunar landing, but when one chimp must be dismissed, they need a quick substitute--and who better than a boy aviator who can fly a jet at age 13? Just as long as he can keep it a secret from his overprotective mother.

Soon Scott is on his way to the NASA training facility, after having weeks worth of tests to make sure he's healthy enough for it. There he discovers just how clever the chimps are--able to control the flight simulators like regular astronauts. They're more like humans than he'd ever have imagined, so why, then, did one of them go crazy? Is there something about his mission and the way they treat the chimps that NASA isn't telling him? If so, he's going to find out.
Before long, he's up in space with two chimps for company, only communicating with them through sign language. He's going to stay in orbit while the two of them go down in the Lunar Module to land on the moon, and then they'll, hopefully, fly back home. But there's something he's not telling NASA, now.
This book was astoundingly well-written, for being told in a thirteen-year-old's perspective. It was almost unbelievable at some points, but then I began thinking...Maybe this is retrospective and he's writing this at an older age. And then, that's completely believable and incredible.
The whole story was simplisticly written, but that is a good thing, since it was already complicated with technical terms. I guess writing a book about NASA comes with a territory, and those technical terms are needed. I even learned a few things I didn't know.
Okay, so I'm not doing a very good job with describing this book or why I liked it, but I can tell you that I did. There was something about it that amazed me. It took me forever to read, because I was so busy when I was, but it never once became a tedious task. I enjoyed picking up this novel and finding out more about space missions, and following Scott as he makes his way to the moon. It was a good book to read before bed.
And I especially enjoyed the way the chapters were titled. First, it starts of counting down from ten, like counting down till blastoff. After that, it started counting the days that he was in space. But I really loved how it counted down. That was very clever.
The only thing I can pinpoint that I didn't like was how the epilogue was like a giant, red, neat Christmas bow, tying up the package. Everything was so resolved and perfectly polished. The whole epilogue felt like the conclusion to an essay. State the thesis. Recount your points. Have a concluding sentence. I've only ever once before encountered an ending to a book that felt that much like the final paragraph of one of my english class essays. And I sure didn't like it then, and I don't like it now. I mean, I don't want a huge cliffhanger, but sticking me inside a perfectly wrapped package and slapping a bow on it keeps me from feeling like the characters were real. It's like, if that's their end, then they don't have actual lives and therefore never really existed. I'd like to think the characters I'm reading about are real people, even if I know it's not true.So basically, I can sum it all up by giving this book a 4 out of 5 cups of coffe. A really extravagant cup of coffee with tons of hard-to-pronounce ingredients that end up being counterproductive as the coffee turns out to be a little below par. That's the kind I'm talking about.
(sorry about the bad review, I just can't seem to make it good.)

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