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.
Life in Outer Space was the one of the first #LoveOzYA novels I ever read, and since then, I’ve fallen in love with Melissa Keil’s writing and the way in which she creates such beautiful and touching stories set in Melbourne. I haven’t read many books set in Melbourne as a lot of the #LoveOzYA novels are either set in Sydney or the countryside, so when I do stumble across one, it’s like an added bonus. Complete with quirky character that you can’t help but fall in love with, pop culture references, and adorable yet realistic romance, The Secret Science of Magic has scored itself a special place in my heart. This is a book I’ll be recommending for quite some time to come.
Home, Sweet Home
There’s something so comforting about reading novels set in Australia, and even more so with ones set in Melbourne. Off the top of my head, Melissa Keil’s novels, Ellie Marney’s Every Breath, and Ida by Alison Evans are the three main things that come to mind when I think about books set in Melbourne. I love reading about characters walking past Flinders Street Station or going to Melbourne University, as the characters do in The Secret Science of Magic. I love the familiarity of reading a novel set in Melbourne, and I adore how the way it’s described always is able to capture the essence of the city I call home.
One of the things I loved most about Life In Outer Space was the pop-culture references, and I was exceptionally pleased to find that The Secret Science of Magic had just as many relevant, nerdy references. There’s nothing that pleased me more than reading about how something was TARDIS blue or hearing Sophia argue about which Doctor is the best. I find that a lot of contemporary novels without pop-culture references feel a little unrealistic, because we’re surrounded by references every day, and avoiding them in an attempt to make your work “timeless” doesn’t always work in your favour. I love how Melissa Keil embraces pop-culture and uses it not only as a reference to the world we live in today, but also to accentuate the passions of her characters and the type of lives they lead.
I would be hard not to fall in love with Sophia. She’s a child-prodigy who knows that people as smart as her either turn out to be recluses or weirdos when they leave high school, and she doesn’t know what to do with her life. She doesn’t really understand people all that well at times and she chooses Doctor Who over socialising. There were times when I could see a lot of similarities between her and Sherlock Holmes — their brilliance, their difficulty in understanding people sometimes — and I loved making comparisons between the two. As Sherlock is one of my favourite literary figures, it was really a treat to see some of the best parts of his character in Sophia, even if she didn’t have “the deduction thing”.
Even for readers with hearts of steel, Joshua will make you turn all gooey inside. He’s a little strange and very into magic tricks, and this combination made my heart melt. The scenes between him and Sophia were extremely cute, and I loved how their friendship formed and how their relation grew from that. There’s a scene towards the end that made me squeal of happiness — it was just that cute. This romance is one that you’ll just have to read for yourself. It’s spectacular!
Science and Magic
Undeniably, the perfect blend of science and magic is what made this book such an unforgettable read. For two things I’d never thought to be linked before, I absolutely loved the way they were seen to intertwine with each other in The Secret Science of Magic and I found both aspects to be exceptionally well researched and woven into the narrative seamlessly. It was also marvellous how the characters’ passions about these things made even myself get excited about a math fact or some magician Joshua had mentioned. I just adored spending time with these beautiful, adorkable characters.
Ultimately, The Secret Science of Magic is a brilliant, enjoyable novel about what happens when science and magic meets. Full of pop-culture references, relatable characters and an adorkable romance, this one has got to be my favourite #LoveOzYA novel of the year. I’m already looking forward to seeing what Melissa Keil is writing next! In the meantime, I’ll be reading a recent purchase of mine — Cinnamon Girl.
Have you read The Secret Science of Magic, or any other books by Melissa Keil? Do you read many Aussie YA novels? Do you enjoy reading books set in your hometown? What other YA novels would you recommend for fans of contemporary fiction? I’d love to know!
Thanks to Hardie Grant Egmont for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Check out the other blogs participating in The Secret Science of Magic blog tour!