Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Book Review Club - Aliens on Vacation

Aliens on Vacation
by Clete Barrett Smith
middle grade

Perhaps it's the alien state of my house under demolition/renovation that made me identify so completely with the shock David experiences when his grandma's B&B turns out to be a hotel for aliens. Others might argue it's that I have a teenager in the house, a veritable alien in our midst. Could be both.

Not to mention the excellent writing.

Basic premise: Twelve year old David, a.k.a. Scrub, spends the summer with his fraternal grandmother in the Pacific Northwest, far from his home in Florida. His grandmother lives in a sleepy little town well of the beaten track and David is sure summer is going to be majorly boring...until he discovers his grandma runs a hotel for aliens vacationing on planet Earth.

Let the fun begin!

Every dressed up an alien to "go native" on planet Earth?
How about bought groceries for them?
Or played a game of b-ball?

Scrub's life isn't all fun and games. Sheriff Tate suspects more goes on in the Intergalactic B & B than meets the eye. Seven foot guests and Scrub's ginormous squid "pet" he takes for walks have gotten his attention. They've gotten Amy, his daughter's, attention, too. She hides in the bushes to catch the truth on film. Scrub does his best to keep Amy from the B&B to protect his grandma's secret, but Amy isn't so easily put off. She's a space buff. Plus, she's friendly. And, well, Scrub kinda likes her.

This is a fun science fiction romp bursting with creativity and imagination. My daughter would NOT let me stop reading at night. And when we finished, the first words out of her mouth were, "When's the next book coming out?" She is in love with this series. She wants to email the author every other day as if he were her buddy.

What's really great for the adult in me is that there is meat to the grammar and word choice of this story. It's a great transitional book for kids who do chapter books but are ready for more demanding novels. The story keeps them entertained while challenging their linguistic and comprehension skills.

From an author's perspective, I really enjoyed the close third POV. At times, I forgot the book was in third person. It felt that much like first person. Which is really another reason it works so well as a transitional, tweenish book for kids graduating on to harder reads.

The one thing I wasn't completely sold on was the ending. I like them short and sweet. The last chapter ends that way, but then there's an epilogue. I think the story stands well without it, but I'm hashing literary hairs. It certainly doesn't make the piece any less fun to read. And given the fact that my daughter never wanted me to stop, it was helpful for her to fade away, rather than cut.

For more Spring flings, hop over to Barrie Summy's site!