Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy

Many thanks to Bloomsbury & NetGalley! I promise all the opinions here are my own. Pinky swear.

The description on Amazon is pretty detailed, so let’s take a look at that:

An asteroid is hurtling toward Earth. A big, bad one. Maybe not kill-all-the-dinosaurs bad, but at least kill-everyone-in-California-and-wipe-out-Japan-with-a-tsunami bad. Yuri, a physicist prodigy from Russia, has been recruited to aid NASA as they calculate a plan to avoid disaster.

The good news is Yuri 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 the trouble is, even though NASA asked for his help, no one there will listen to him. He’s seventeen, and they’ve been studying physics longer than he’s been alive.

Then he meets (pretty, wild, unpredictable) 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 live a life worth saving.

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

I wanted to read this book for a few reasons. One – my nephew is getting older, 11 now, and I’m kind of on the lookout lately for books I think my sisters’ little ones might some day want to read. Two – main character is a physicist! Three – asteroid hurtling toward Earth! Four – NASA! Really, so many good ingredients there. Unfortunately, the final dish was a little bland.

I felt like this was more of a middle-grade romance novel. It felt very formulaic, and the main focus ended up being on Yuri’s crush on American girl Dovie. I was more excited about the possible asteroid-hitting and the science that would go into saving the world, so I was disappointed by that. But basically, two wildly different teenagers meet, have romantic feels, obstacles are in the way, etcetera. You know how romance novels go. Except there were no explicit sexy times, because this is for the teens. Despite the urgent crises in the book – an asteroid about to hit Earth, the question of how Yuri will get home, his feelings for Dovie – there were no surprises, no laughs, no heart pangs.

And I should have seen this coming just from the description – but Dovie is theΒ Manic Pixie Dream Girl character and man that’s a tired old trope. Her parents are hippies so that’s supposed to explain that,Β but it’s so boring to make that the reason for a guy to fall for a girl. “Ooooh, she’s so crazy and different, it’s what I didn’t know I always wanted!”

I read this in about two sittings, so it went by quick and was entertaining enough so that I didn’t just quit it, but it felt very trite. I probably won’t keep this on my running list of books to suggest to my niece and nephews.


~ Sarah



  1. Aww man, that sucks that this wasn’t better cos at first glance (at the description & the cover) it seems so good. But MPDG, no thx, I’m tired of you.


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