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21 April 2010

Book Review: The True Meaning of Smekday

The True Meaning of Smekday
by Adam Rex



My six year old son and I met Adam Rex last night at a book signing.  We picked this up for him to sign, at the behest of the bookstore proprietor who knows my son well and thinks he will, eventually, be obsessed with this book.  Then Adam and Brian Selznick did a Boov puppet show and my kid was hooked.

So I sat down today and read the thing.  Though I think we'll have to wait a year or so before the kid will be able to handle some of the concepts and moments (lost mom, alien take-over, mention of the holocaust showers) I truly enjoyed the romping fun, mixed with meaningful human drama,  of an 11 year old girl named Gratuity Tucci and her unexpected partner in Boov-slash-Gorg-exiling-from-Earth-now-called-Smekland hijinks, a fugitive Boov whose name is unpronounceable by humans, as they lack a second head, and who, therefore, goes by the name J.Lo.

Laugh out loud funny while simultaneously being one of the sharpest and meaningful commentaries on the woes of America society I've read in fiction form.

Take this, for example.  Gratuity happens upon a Mo-Po;

"For you time-capsule types, Mo-Po was something called a convenience store, as in, 'The soda is conveniently located right next to the doughnuts and the lottery tickets.'  People who want to understand how the human race was conquered so easily need to study those stores.  Almost everything inside was filled with sugar, cheese or weight-loss tips."

The book is peppered with moments such as that one (Rex's riff on why the Boov outlawed TV still has me laughing, as well as the comic book history of the Boov in the center of the novel, which openly lampoons most of human development and history) among the riotously funny misadventures of Tip (that's what Gratuity's friends call her) and J.Lo as they work together to save humanity and Earth.

Brilliantly clever and original.