This is one of the strangest, and strongest, young adult novels I’ve encountered for a while. The first-person narrator, a young man from Seattle named Noa, is delightful, and manages to be hilarious and irreverent while telling a harrowing tale of science fictional misadventures. The tale begins with Noa literally waking up in space one morning, wearing a space suit labelled “Nico” that is running out of oxygen and tethered to a space ship that is about to explode.
The space adventures are decidedly weird, but the love story is not. Noa falls right away for another guy, named DJ, from Florida, who has also inexplicably woken up on the same space ship. But because of bad experiences with another boyfriend, Noa is conflicted in love. There is one other person on the ship, named Jenny, who interestingly never questions the validity of or interferes with the budding gay romance. As Noa works through his past issues to accept the relationship that DJ offers, he tells a genuine love story about two kids who question, not their gender or sexuality, but their suitability for love.
As an added bonus, the story managed to surprise me completely with an outrageous but science fictionally satisfactory explanation for the weirdness. The unexpected revelations add a whole new layer of complexity to both the space adventures and the love story. It is, indeed, complicated. And set in space!