Author: Adam Rex
Publication Date: October 2, 2007
Source: Purchased hardcover, Audiobook from local library
About the Book: It all starts with a school essay.
When twelve-year-old Gratuity (“Tip”) Tucci is assigned to write five pages on “The True Meaning of Smekday” for the National Time Capsule contest, she’s not sure where to begin. When her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens - called Boov - abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it “Smekland” (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod?
In any case, Gratuity’s story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a futile journey south to find Gratuity’s mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar called Slushious; and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion.Fully illustrated with “photos,” drawings, newspaper clippings, and comics sequences, this is a hilarious, perceptive, genre-bending novel by a remarkable new talent.
My Thoughts: The audiobook of this title is one of the best I've ever listened to. The narration is fabulous. Bahni Turpin does unique voices for the different characters. This is especially impressive since a number of them are aliens! The audiobook won the 2011 Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production. It was an honor well deserved. My only warning to people who choose to listen to the audiobook: there are illustrations and comics that are explained but you should really look at a copy of the book to see them in all their glory ;)
As far as the story goes I was impressed. It took me a little bit to "find my footing" (this likely would not have been the case had I been reading rather than listening due to the layout of the book) but once I did I didn't want to stop listening. I don't know that I've ever laughed so hard at an audiobook. I must have been quite the sight for people driving by (I listen to audiobooks in my car.) Tip and J.Lo make a great pair. The adventures and misunderstandings they get themselves in to had me begging for more. At the same time Tip is a twelve-year-old girl looking for her mother. This adds a poignancy to the story that had me tearing up as well. Well done Mr. Rex, well done.
This is definitely a book I'll be talking up to my middle school students! I highly recommend giving it a try, especially the audiobook!