In Cosmic, Frank Cottrell Boyce presents us with a charming and believable narrator – Liam, the twelve-year-old boy who looks like an adult man.  Liam’s narrative begins in the middle, with him telling us how he got into the mess/adventure that he is in.  His story is told with verve and energy, and just the right mix-in of self-deprecating humor. 

For you see, as the novel opens, Liam is in space, on a rocket near the moon, with four other children.  Unfortunately for Liam, he is the “adult” chaperone on this flight that has gone wrong.  The novel tells the story of what has happened to bring him to this place, and explores what it is like to be always assumed to be older than you are.  (It is frighteningly easy for Liam to fit in with adults.)

I loved Liam’s voice in this book.  He wants to do the right thing most of the time, but he also wants to have fun and thrilling adventures.  Sometimes, he finds, these two don’t always overlap easily.

I think the novel also raises some interesting questions.  The four children who end up on the space flight are – with the exception of Florida, Liam’s friend and pretend daughter – are all child prodigies, pushed to the extreme achievements by their differently overbearing fathers.  Boyce does a great job of showing how each of these children is in some ways limited and stifled by the efforts of these parents.  By contrast, Liam’s parents are the ordinary, appropriate parents that he so desperately wants to return home to.

This delightful novel mediates between the thrills of adventure and the fear of being in over one’s head.  What more could we ask of a recreational book for students?