The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex (read by Bahni Turpin)
Published: print: Hyperion, 2007
audio: Books on Tape, 2010
Source: school library
Why I chose to read
2011 Winner of the Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production.
Gratuity “Tip” Tucci is about to embark on a road trip to Florida, where all U.S. citizens have been relocated following the Boov invasion of Earth. Even worse, Gratuity’s mother was abducted on Christmas Eve, so she is alone. On Moving Day, Tip packs up her car – and her cat, Pig – and sets out from Pennsylvania, only to find her journey turned upside down and inside out when she meets J.Lo, a Boov mechanic.
What I enjoyed
- J.Lo – he absolutely stole the show!
- The loving relationship depicted between Gratuity and her mother.
- Author Rex may be well known for his drawing skills, but he flexes some serious linguistic muscles.
- Rex uses flashbacks and intersperses the narrative with other character voices/perspectives.
- The flashback technique used by Rex is effective at engaging the reader. Tip’s first essay attempt raised so many questions, I was impatient for the story to continue so I could find the answers!
- Gratuity’s voice is sharp, perceptive, and dredged in dry humor.
- The parallel drawn between alien invasion of Earth and European exploration of North America.
- Although this is science fiction, the book doesn’t take itself too seriously and pokes a little fun at the genre.
What detracted from my enjoyment
- I had a difficult time visualizing the aliens – they were so different from Hollywood depictions! That is good, but I sometimes couldn’t keep the image in my head.
- Happy Mouse Kingdom was clearly meant to be Disney World, but I wondered if this was in order to satirize it, or due to fear of copyright infringement. I was preoccupied by this, but I’m sure most readers wouldn’t be.
It is obvious why this audiobook won an Odyssey – it is extraordinary! Adam Rex created the characters and the story, but Bahni Turpin breathed new life into them. I don’t think I could imagine J.Lo sounding any different. A marvelous listening experience, one that an entire family could enjoy.
Stories with alien characters
Stuck on Earth by David Klass
Boom (or 70,000 light years) by Mark Haddon
The Doom Machine by Mark Teague
Books that feature humorous road trips
Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham