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The Half-life of Planets

The Half-life of Planets

3.3 8
by Emily Franklin

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Lianna is an aspiring planetary scientist and also a kissing addict. This summer, though, she plans to spend every kiss-worthy hour in the lab, studying stars.

Hank has never been kissed. He's smart and funny and very socially awkward, because he's got Asperger's syndrome. Hank's plan for the summer is to work at a music store and save enough to buy his beloved


Lianna is an aspiring planetary scientist and also a kissing addict. This summer, though, she plans to spend every kiss-worthy hour in the lab, studying stars.

Hank has never been kissed. He's smart and funny and very socially awkward, because he's got Asperger's syndrome. Hank's plan for the summer is to work at a music store and save enough to buy his beloved Fender Jazzmaster.

What neither Liana nor Hank plan for is their fateful meeting...in the women's bathroom at the hospital. But their star-crossed encounter could be the very best kind.

Two veteran YA authors tell, in alternating chapters, the story of two kids who discover that the best parts of people can't be summed up easily.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In alternating first-person narratives, Franklin (the Principles of Love series) and Halpin (Forever Changes) recount an offbeat teenage relationship. Liana is focused on a college-level summer course in astronomy to divert her attention from boys, after receiving a hurtful note alleging her promiscuity (“I am not a slut.... Even though I could give a guided tour of all the different places I’ve kissed different boys in this semi-small town”), while cerebral Hank, who has Asperger’s syndrome, is socially awkward and obsessed with music. Because Liana is conducting a summerlong personal experiment in which she abstains from kissing, meeting Hank brings unforeseen challenges and unexpected bonds as they learn how to relate to each other in new and meaningful ways. The two teens connect over music (they are both wellsprings of musical knowledge and band trivia), their respective family troubles, and a desire to express themselves. The discursive story favors dialogue and introspection over action and can border on melodrama, but the characters’ candid perspectives ring true and the romance should have readers longing for connections as deeply felt. Ages 12–up. (June)
VOYA - Cheryl French
Liana kisses boys to make up for the emptiness and loss that she and her parents do not talk about. She plans to spend her summer in the lab, studying advanced planetary science and proving that she does not deserve the reputation she has. Hank has Asperger's, obsesses about music, and seems to have a near encyclopedic knowledge of bands, lyrics, and guitars. He plans to spend his summer working to purchase a Fender Jazzmaster. When Hank bursts through the door of the woman's bathroom at the hospital, all of their plans are sent spinning in this summer story of identity, labels, perceptions, and budding romance. In alternating chapters, Liana and Hank stumble, question, make mistakes, and learn to take chances. In style and focus, the book is reminiscent of Rachel Cohn and David Levithan's Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (Knopf, 2006/VOYA April 2006), but with less passion and depth. Liana and Hank are likable but roughly sketched. The characters orbiting around them never fully come into focus. Additional details would have given the characters and story more substance. With its slow pace and occasionally heavy-handed and gimmicky tone, some readers will lack the patience to see the book through. Readers who are looking for a light, predictable romance that is a bit different may overlook those flaws and appreciate the humor and liberal sprinkling of musical references. There are moments of vulnerability and insight that offer readers a glimpse of what the story could have been. Reviewer: Cheryl French
Kim Coyle
Liana is an aspiring planetary scientist who loves to kiss. She has even earned a not so welcome reputation. Hank is a boy with Asperger's syndrome who loves music. The unlikely pair meet and discover that their differences just might make them perfect friends—maybe even something more. The only problem is that Liana has sworn to herself that she won't kiss anymore boys, and Hank cannot stop talking about music long enough to try kissing a girl. Told from both Liana's and Hank's perspectives, the story develops through the questioning that each teenager asks about the other and themselves. With a little help from the planets, Liana and Hank realize that no matter how different they are to everyone else, they still have each other. The Half-Life of Planets is an uplifting teen romance story filled with laughter. Reviewer: Kim Coyle
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—This story is told from two alternating points of view. Liana, who loves studying about outer space, has recently been deemed a "slut" via an anonymous note, and she aims to disprove the label by not kissing anyone during summer break. Hank, who has a vast knowledge of music, has Asperger's syndrome, and he doesn't think that a girl would ever want to kiss him. When the teens meet, they quickly form a bond, yet as they navigate their friendship, they have a hard time expressing their individual needs. While the book is reminiscent of Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower (MTV, 1999) and Rachel Cohn and David Levithan's Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (Knopf, 2006), its unique qualities set it apart. The authors do an excellent job of demonstrating Hank's disorder without explaining it in detail. Liana's chapters, while not as strong as Hank's, nevertheless poignantly express her struggles with family issues and her negative self-image. Having both points of view gives readers a better understanding of each teen and the opportunity to witness the same scenes through different lenses, further aiding in understanding Asperger's. At times the story is bogged down by song titles, lyrics, and facts, but overall it is worth the read.—Sarah K. Allen, Elko Middle School, Sandston, VA
Kirkus Reviews
"I am not a slut," says Liana Planet (pronounce pluh-net) in the attention-grabbing first line of this fine romantic comedy. She has a reputation for loving to kiss, and many boys have been the beneficiaries of her passion. It has never taken her beyond locking lips, however, and now she's experimenting on herself this summer: Can she become a new person and leave her kissing-bandit ways behind? An aspiring scientist doing planetary research, Liana understands planets and their predictable orbits and patterns; it's people she doesn't always get. Nor does Hank, a teenager with Asperger's syndrome who gets music but can't read social cues. Put them together, telling their stories in alternating first-person narratives, and the result is a story laced with intelligent humor, well-drawn characters-even the secondary ones-and believable situations. There's melodrama here and some cliched scenes, but these are high-school students after all, and readers will find themselves cheering for the proper alignment of these star-crossed lovers. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin are both accomplished authors in the young adult world. Emily has written a dozen novels for young adults, including the critically-acclaimed Principles of Love series and The Other Half of Me. Brendan's first novel for young adults, How Ya Like Me Now, was published in 2007; his second YA effort, Forever Changes, came out in September 2008. Emily (www.emilyfranklin.com) lives in Newton, MA; Brendan (www.brendanhalpin.com) resides in Jamaica Plain, MA.

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Half-Life of Planets 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
MorrisMorgan More than 1 year ago
“The Half-Life of Planets” is a book I have mixed-feelings about. On the one hand, it is a really great portrayal of the thought processes of someone with Asperger’s and their first experiences with the opposite sex. On the other hand, it seemed quite a bit over-simplified in terms of how the neurotypical half of the relationship reacted to their own circumstances. Hank is a boy with Asperger’s and a very complicated home situation. Lianna has quite a few things going on in her own life and has some self-esteem issues related to her family life. I love the way that Hank is written, along with the authors not excusing some of the mistakes he makes by chalking it up to Asperger’s. I believe quite a few middle-grade aspies will love reading about such a relatable character, and I also believe that it will be quite an eye-opener for those who may know someone on the spectrum but not closely. Lianna, on the other hand, seemed to handle things unrealistically at the end. I don’t mean her interactions with Hank, though those are understandably awkward. She does quite a few over-the top things that seem to just be swept easily under the rug at the end in favor of a nice, tidy ending. In spite of my thoughts on Lianna, I still recommend “The Half-Life of Planets” for readers 7th-9th grades. There are a lot of valuable insights to be found in the book. However, I think it will lose the interest of older readers. This review is based upon a complimentary copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
ABookDork More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I read it for a book group and couldn't put it down. Hank and Liana were both interesting characters. Liana was likable even though she had issues. I loved being in Hank's head as he tried to analyze the situations he was placed in. This story is truly sweet and the characters have fantastic chemistry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
xChrissyx More than 1 year ago
I started reading it and I thought that it was really good... but as I continued it was just kind of boring and there wasnt something that will motivate me to keep reading... I just kept reading becase I had to.. not because I wanted to know what was going to happen.. since Nothing interesting happened at the end.. I was kind of dissapointed bt oh well.. I guess it was in fact interesting the point of view of hank. I liked that.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Liana makes a pact with herself not to kiss any boys during the summer. She's kissed several boys in the past, but then run from them all. Instead, she's going to focus on herself. She wants to understand why she can't talk to boys. Hank knows about music; he lives for music. He works at a music store and has his eye on a special guitar. Hank is also different - he has Asperger's syndrome. It's hard for him to have conversations with people because he doesn't understand social clues. Liana and Hank meet randomly in a girls' bathroom. Immediately, they connect. They can't stop talking and neither wants to leave the conversation. They meet up again at a coffee shop. Liana just wants a friend, someone normal she can count on. Hank wants to date Liana. He's never had a girlfriend. Eventually, they share secrets and their dreams. Can they get past their differences? Asperger's syndrome isn't the main focus of the story, but it adds a serious tone to this tale that is told in alternating perspectives. With THE HALF-LIFE OF PLANETS, Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin pen a winning novel of friendship, romance, and discovering yourself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KatsaPo More than 1 year ago
It was okay. I generally didn't enjoy it. Hank was funny and interesting; however, when the story was told in Lianna's perspective, i didn't really understand her and her purposes.