The Half-Life of Planets by Emily Franklin and Brandan Halpin

This story is written by two authors, told by a guy and a girl in alternating chapters, and focuses a lot on music, so it’s easy to start comparing it to Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Thanks to a unique plot line and tone, though, it’s clearly not a knock-off.   Whereas Nick & Norah’s story takes place in a single, frantic night, this story has a relaxed pace and takes you through an entire summer of Hank and Lianna hanging out and getting to know each other.

Lianna is a girl who is obsessed with science — particularly astronomy.  But she is also a slut.  At least, that is what the anonymous note in her locker said.  In fact, that was all it said.  After receiving that note, Lianna has decided that she needs to take some time off from kissing.  She has kissed an awful lot of guys, and it hasn’t really gotten her anywhere relationship-wise, so she has decided to give up kissing for the entire summer to see if she can find someone who is actually worthy of her kisses.

Hank is a guy who has never been kissed, thanks to his extreme social awkwardness.  As he readily explains, his Asperger’s Syndrome is largely to blame for his difficulty reading body language and social cues.  While his mother and brother understand the nuances of his personality, it takes Lianna a while to get used to his extremely blunt nature and obsession with all things music.  As she gets to know him better, Lianna comes to enjoy his seemingly-endless knowledge of musical trivia and his “chording” (his fingers will randomly start playing guitar even if he is not holding one).

I think the authors did a great job with this story.  They explained Asperger’s Syndrome enough for teens to “get” it, yet they were not overly didactic about it.  They created some very unique characters, but they didn’t make them seem too strange to be believable.  And, best of all, they wrote a cohesive story that didn’t have to be filled with tons of action or mystery to keep me interested until the very end.  Though there are some sad parts, I think of this as more of a “romantic comedy.”

Happy Reading!

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