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.
I gave this book a 4.5 out of 5. this was a book i picked up at random from a sale and bought because it has pictures. i’m alway wary about reading books with teenage girls (american ones particularly) as the main character because of the usual pitfalls (e.g girl said to be feisty but ends up being rescued anyway, sappy love angles, crass teen language passed on as witty). one thing I like about this is that I can forget that gratuity is a girl. I guess it helps that she is 11 and not 16. and she did end up saving the world herself. i am not that big of a fan of sci-fi and this being a book about alien invasion, I expected it to be really cheesy and campy and it is, but the tongue in cheek humor works because it the same stuff I cringe at in the sci-fi cliches that i always cringe at in the sci-fi stuff i come across with.
I like how Tip and JLo the Boov started from this uneasy truce between human and alien invader to a friendship that lasted a lifetime (which here lasted a 100 years). The quiet thoughts between all the running around, hiding and dodging alien guns in a levitating car where I always picture Tip looking up the sky were poignant in that simplistic childlike way that for me always cuts deeper than cloying words of so-called inspirational novels (major reason why i don’t read coelho, et al.). One such instance was when Tip started to realize that the Boov are also a people.
Invasion being the running theme here, there’s the white man stealing land from the indians. the boov stealing the planet from humans. the gorgs taking the planet from the boov. even within the boov, the water dweling boovs grabbed the land from the forgotten boovs, those who lived in the land after being exiled. Coming from a colonized country, this struck a chord. Invaders always refer to the action as “discovering”. Conquered people are always thought of as inferior and looked upon as savages. In a few simple word, the author Adam Rex sum it all up via JLo’s comic: “the forgotten are kindly asked to leave, because the forgotten are needed elsewhere”.
And most of all, I like that part about the cat. As Tip herself puts it, “And as far as pets go, a cat is a nice thing to have”. And as far as friends go, a Boov can be a nice thing to have.