Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Secret Science of Magic by Melissa Keil

Title: The Secret Science of Magic
Author: Melissa Keil
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age
Source: Hardie Grant Egmont

The unsolvable problem: If Sophia is a genius, why can’t she crack the puzzle of what to do with her life?

Fact: Sophia is smart. As in, certified-child-prodigy, breezing-through-uni-subjects-even-though-she’s-only-in-year-twelve smart. This terrifies her, because geniuses have a tendency to end up as recluses and weirdos – and with her current social ineptness, she’s halfway there already.

Truth: Joshua is good at magic tricks, ignoring most things about year twelve, and not thinking at all about life after high school.

Fact: Sophia can’t even talk to her best friend Elsie about her anxieties, because Elsie is firmly focused on her own future – and on plans that will mean leaving Sophia behind.

Truth: Joshua has had a secret crush on Sophia since forever, but he doesn’t have forever to act on it.

Fact: There are some things no amount of genius can prepare you for … and the messiness of the real world is one of them.

Truth: Timing is everything.

The long-awaited YA novel from the award-winning author of Life in Outer Space and The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl.
Review by Nara

I know a lot of bloggers that quite actively promote #LoveOzYA. For those who don't know what this is, this is a movement trying to gain more popularity for Australian YA novels. I personally don't do a lot of promotion for the movement, but I do have to admit, there is a lot to love about Aussie YA. Often, the novels are set in Australia and we're able to see familiar scenes and themes. There's something strangely gratifying about seeing novels set in Sydney or Melbourne although I don't live there and don't know them well enough to necessarily recognise places.

Joshua and Sophia are great characters who are excellently developed by Keil. Sophia was actually pretty frustrating at times, as she had difficulty interpreting social cues from her friends and she was unable to talk to anyone about her many concerns. In part this was because of her social anxiety, so it was understandable, but was nonetheless frustrating to observe as the reader. Joshua was much easier to like, with his nerdy charm. The way he interacts with his friends and family (and Sophia) were wonderful to see.

I found the progression of the romance quite realistic, and was definitely shipping the two from chapter one. The romance was quite a dominant part of the story, but it didn't feel like it was overshadowing the other threads of the plot, which were mostly focused around Sophia and her struggle to overcome the label of "child genius". Josh didn't really have as much of a plot independent of Sophia, but I felt that this was okay.

The only thing I can criticise about how realistic the novel was that there were some odd choices of language for year 12 students. I honestly don't know anyone past the age of 10 who would say the word "willy", for example. Certainly by year 12, students wouldn't be saying it.

Overall, The Secret Science of Magic was a delightful Aussie contemporary YA which I would definitely recommend to those looking for a light read that is still able to focus on some important issues.

Really liked it
Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Romance: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 4/5