“The True Meaning of Smekday” by Adam Rex
Release date: Oct. 7, 2007
Publisher: Hyperion, 432 pages
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.
Gratuity Tucci lives a mundane life with her single mom. Until the day the aliens come. They have discovered Earth, they say, the Boov declare Earth is now “Smekland” (in honor of their glorious captain: Smek); and because they are a smarter, shinier race then the “noble savages of Earth” (they do have a rude word for elbow), they have generously granted all of the humans “human preserves” (in this case Florida) that they will keep forever and ever. But when Gratuity’s mom is kidnapped by the aliens, she takes matters into her own hands and decides to drive to Florida with only her cat for company. But along the way, she runs into a fugitive Boov. J.Lo (his Earth name) accidentally sent a rude telephone call to the Gorg, the most evil race in the galaxy, and they are coming to take the Earth.
I really, really love this book. My copy is dog eared and held together with packing tape, because I have taken it on every camping trip, beach excursion and long car ride in the last five years. The clever writing, along with pictures and comics make this a hilarious and fast paced read. But when I delved more deeply into the book I realized that it also says a lot about the Indian relocation and our purpose as a race. This is constantly on my list as a present for friends and family, many lines are in jokes with my friends and I can read it over and over again without ever being bored.
–Lily C., one of our teen contributors