Publisher's Note:  

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.

The True Meaning of Smekday

by Adam Rex

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Overall Review:  

The True Meaning of Smekday is not your average alien takeover story.  It’s told from the point of view of an eleven year old girl writing an essay for a contest.  That said, this is more like War of the Worlds meets E.T., complete with the alien in a ‘ghost’ costume (old sheet with holes) and absolutely no one notices that it doesn’t remotely resemble a human!  The aliens have taken over the world, and eleven year old Gratuity just wants to find her mom.  On her way to Florida to the ‘humanskind preserve’, she meets J.Lo—a boy alien that’s in a little trouble from his kind.  By an unfortunate accident, some even bigger and meaner aliens are called down, and it’s time to step it up a notch to save the world!  Gratuity and J.Lo team up, and their antics are hilarious!  Their conversations even more so!  J.Lo to speaks in not so good English and does not to understandings always the Gratuity.  They are always talking in circles with each other.   It was great fun!  J.Lo was a very endearing little creature and I just loved the little guy!  These two meet a great cast of characters along the way such as Chief Shouting Bear (aka Frank) who owns the Area 51 spaceship, Mitch, the guy in the missing persons bureau who always talks in questions?, and Daniel Landry who may not be the fantastically great guy everyone seems to think he is—but they need leaders and he’s rich, so that must make him a good leader!  The future looks dim for the humans and it seems like the new and improved group of aliens may just win the day…except for a little glitch in their nature that Gratuity figures out!  Even if it has a few small loose ends in some of the subplots, The True Meaning of Smekday fulfills its purpose as a fun and wacky recreational read for younger teens.

Content Analysis:  

Since this is supposed to be an essay written by a twelve year old (about her experiences as an eleven year old), it’s relatively clean.  There are some instances of profanity—and after every single one, she says, “pardon my language”.  The alien swears in his native language and says, “pardon my language” as well, and that’s funny.  There is also one character in the story who swears a lot—but the narrator mentions that she didn’t like this, so she writes ‘bleep’ in his sentences instead of the swear words.  There are a few crude references, as well, by some characters. 


As far as sexual content, there are some vague discussions about babies of the different races and how they’re made/raised.  It’s not graphic.  Some characters think the aliens are there to impregnate the humans (the narrator says they should at least get married first).  Again, this is not graphic or uncomfortable, but there is a short discussion.  There are also two different groups of boys who have formed some sort of club and work really hard to make their acronym spell ‘boob’ just so they can giggle. 


There are many different forms of violence, such as shootings, destruction and kidnappings.  Some aliens set fire to an entire city.  One alien hits a human and knocks him out.  A group of aliens hunt cats.  There are shootings and lootings in most of the cities.  Many characters are abducted by the aliens for different tasks such as folding the laundry and tutoring in English, and those left behind are worried and frightened. 

Mature Subject Matter:  

There are also themes such as hostile takeovers, destruction of cities/people, the ethics of one group ‘discovering’ the new land and pushing out those who already live there, and being on your own and alone.

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Reviewed By Emily
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