Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Alien Summer

Murray, James S. and Smith, Carsen. Alien Summer
March 15th 2022 by Penguin Workshop
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

It's the first day of summer vacation, and the last thing Viv Harlow wants to do is to go to her mother's office for Take Your Child to Work Day. She'd rather be at the beach with friends Charlotte and Ray, and especially Elijah. When she goes to her mother's lab, she is surprised to learn a lot about what goes on there, and also that her friends are there as well, since their parents also work at the lab. Things go badly awry when the aliens from planet ZR-18 escape. Charlotte's mother manages to help her escape, but Charlotte is not willing to just abandon her mother. With the help of her friends and Ray's father, Mr. Mond, they help a newborn alien life form, MeeKee, and try to negotiate with Medgar, the head of the aliens. The aliens want to go home, and want to take "the progeny" with them; everyone figures they mean MeeKee. The negotiations don't go well, and there is a lot of adventure as the children try to evade Medgar and his fellow aliens. Ray accidentally shrinks himself, Charlotte has dozens of clones, and the kids get to hold off others using a fart gun. When Viv finds out about the real reason the aliens have been kept in captivity and want to escape, and what her relationship is to them, she has to decide if she will travel with them back to space in order to save her mother and the others. 
Strengths: This was a non-stop thrill ride of action and adventure right from the first page, which starts in medias res when Viv and her mother are escaping. The characters are all well-defined, and add their own special charm to the alien fighting adventure. Medgar and his fellow aliens are portrayed as old fashioned, 1950s sorts of humans, with definitely nonhuman forms when they drop that facade! Viv's relationship to the whole project is interesting, and I liked that she was willing to sacrifice herself for the good of the world. This seems like it could be a series, even though this book wrapped up fairly  nicely. Area 51 still is interesting to students, and this was a fresh take on the subject. 
Weaknesses: While young readers will love the amount of action in this, there could have been a tiny bit more character development. I know, I know, hard to grow as a character when aliens are attacking you. 
What I really think: This is a tiny bit goofier than I would like for an action/adventure book. I would definitely buy it for an elementary school, and will definitely consider it for middle school, since my students' reading habits are skewing younger and younger. For some reason, it reminded me a bit of Walker's Crash Course series or the Voyagers books (various authors). 
Ms. Yingling

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