Book Review: Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy

Posted July 11, 2016 by Lori in Books, Reviews / 2 Comments Tags:

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I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Learning to Swear in America by Katie KennedyLearning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy
Published by Bloomsbury USA on 2016-07-05
Genres: Love & Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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four-stars

Brimming with humor and one-of-a-kind characters, this end-of-the world novel will grab hold of Andrew Smith and Rainbow Rowell fans.

An asteroid is hurtling toward Earth. A big, bad one. Yuri, a physicist prodigy from Russia, has been called to NASA as they calculate a plan to avoid disaster. He knows how to stop the asteroid: his research in antimatter will probably win him a Nobel prize--if there's ever another Nobel prize awarded. But Yuri's 17, and having a hard time making older, stodgy physicists listen to him. Then he meets Dovie, who lives like a normal teenager, oblivious to the impending doom. Being with her, on the adventures she plans when he's not at NASA, Yuri catches a glimpse of what it means to save the world and save a life worth living.

Prepare to laugh, cry, cringe, and have your mind burst open with questions of the universe.

I really didn’t know what to expect from this book at all. I LOVE the cover. And it was compared to Rainbow Rowell and Andrew Smith. Which, I have to say, are some pretty impressive authors. So given all of that, plus the off-beat feeling I got from the synopsis, I was excited to give it a try. But also definitely nervous. I think we all know how scary comparisons to authors we love are. So I went in a bit cautious but with an open mind and I’m happy to say that I did enjoy this book quite a bit.

The best thing about this one is the MC. He’s a teenager who is also a genius. He comes from Russia to America to help with an asteroid that’s going to destroy the world. Think Armageddon. Except with a teenage Russian physicist. It sounds weird, and it was, but I absolutely loved his perspective. Being a genius and a doctor by the time he’s seventeen as well as coming from Russia, he doesn’t quite understand American teens. And this leads to many interesting thoughts on American culture and several funny mix-ups. I just loved seeing America through his eyes, how he worked to fit in, what he wasn’t willing to change, what he found most fulfilling, and what he thought was just ridiculous. His journey through the book was what really made it worth reading.

After reading this book and having reading most of Rowell’s books and Smith’s Winger series and Grasshopper Jungle, I feel like I need to address the comparisons. First of all, I can definitely see how they came about. Yuri definitely felt like a combination of Cath from Fangirl and Ryan Dean from Winger. He was socially awkward, smart, and a teenage boy falling for a beautiful girl. But the book itself fell a bit short of Rowell/Smith books. I enjoyed it but it didn’t leave nearly as big a mark on me as the others. I also had a hard time with how quirky it was at parts. I felt like it was trying a bit too hard to be different and weird at times. There were moments of self-discovery and enough character growth for this book but nowhere on the same level as the other authors’ books. Rowell and Smith have a way of making books about interesting characters and situations that also give me, as the reader, quite a lot to think about. But this book was much lighter. A few deep moments but mostly it was fun and about Yuri, without a lot that related specifically to me as the reader. And that’s totally fine. Like I said, I enjoyed the book. But it wasn’t the same as a Rowell/Smith book.

Overall, I would recommend this book. Especially if you’re able to just put aside the fact that a teenager is saving the world from an asteroid and can just enjoy the ride. If you’re looking for something lighter and fun but not a straight contemporary romance, this is one you should check out. It’s like a YA The Martian without all the science and math. And instead of being abandoned on Mars, he’s abandoned in the foreign country of America and forced to figure out how to survive among the people on his own while saving the world. It’s full of quirky characters and some fun moments. If you enjoy books like that or need a break from some of the heavier books, check it out!

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