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The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex is not your typical science fiction novel. Sure, it does have some mind-boggling gizmos and gadgets, and your typical alien invasion, but it also has humor, an overload of alien cuteness, a few weird but funny wordplay jokes on an even weirder alien race, and much more that makes it stand out way more than you’d expect it to. The True Meaning of Smekday is a uniquely mind-bending, witty and hilarious novel centered around 11-year-old Gratuity Tucci’s essay about the time alien races invaded the United States and what it meant to her.

The story starts out on Moving Day, the day when the Boov, an alien race trying to find a home for themselves, decides to put the whole population of America within one state, Florida. The protagonist, Gratuity, along with her pet cat called Pig decide to embark on a quest to find her mother, who had gone missing the same morning. After hiding from the Boov spaceships in a convenience store, she meets J.Lo, a quirky yet lovable Boov who tells her he accidentally sent a radio transmission of their location to another enemy alien race called the Gorg, who destroyed every planet they could get their hands on. Gratuity reluctantly teams up with J.Lo, who proves to be very resourceful when he wants to be. Together, their adventure to find Gratuity’s mother takes them across the country where they meet many friends and foes alike, visit many places to hide from the Gorg, and use many futuristic devices, like Slushious, Gratuity’s family van which J.Lo modifies to float in the air, and a cloning device which J.Lo used to refill the petrol in Slushious. Above all, though, the growing bond between girl and Boov is extremely heartwarming and special, and I personally enjoyed reading about the two of them learning and trying to experience each other’s culture and lifestyle.

This book is special mainly because it has a trait which seldom many books have; you can't summarize the whole story without revealing too much, like after Gratuity and J.Lo find ''mimom'', the story takes an even bigger plot twist. It seems as though all the adventures the two of them undergo for 300 pages seem to have nothing on what happens next. Another example is seen in the very beginning of the book, the title. What is the true meaning of Smekday? I also like the fact that the author has made all the characters (including the non-humans!) in a very humane way, unlike many science-fiction novels, where most scenes are exaggerated. Debut novelist Adam Rex was originally known for his picture books like ‘Frankenstein makes a Sandwich’, and in this full-fledged novel, his small drawings and comics like Smektastic Voyage, and guide to the Nimrog add little comedic touches which push this book to the next level.

This book is definitely worth reading, and its entertaining narration, funny and easily relatable characters and one-of-a-kind plot will definitely make you want and reread and relive Gratuity and J.Lo’s world of adventures again and again.

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex. Disney-Hyperion, 2009. Buy the book here and support Stone Soup in the process!

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