The fate of the world rests on the shoulders of an awkward teenage genius in Kennedy's comical debut novel.
Yuri Strelnikov is a 17-year-old Russian physics whiz called in to help NASA concoct a plan to deflect a deadly asteroid heading straight for Los Angeles. In fact, Yuri's unpublished work on antimatter may save everyone from global catastrophe, if only the older, more experienced scientists at NASA will deign to listen to a cocky, socially awkward wunderkind whose loyalties they have reason to suspect. It's a lot of pressure for a teenager to handle, even one as brilliant as Yuri. However, after a chance meeting with Dovie Collum, the daughter of a NASA building janitor, Yuri finds an outlet for his stress and loneliness amid the white girl’s close-knit, eccentric family. Though the relationship between Dovie and Yuri is ostensibly a romantic one, the chemistry between them never quite gains momentum or achieves maximum impact, much like the threat of the asteroid threatening to lay waste to the region. Despite the gravity of the situation, Kennedy's narrative maintains a light and humorous tone punctuated with punchy one-liners, wry humor, and cultural misunderstandings, such that the stakes never feel as high as they should.
An end-of-the-world romp that will prompt readers to think and to laugh, this novel ultimately teases more suspense and romance than it genuinely delivers. (Fiction. 14-18)