Gratuity Tucci (known to her friends as Tip), is given a school assignment: an essay, to be put in a time capsule for a hundred years, on The True Meaning of Smekday, where Smekday (formerly Christmas) is the day that aliens invaded and took over – and then, a year later, the day they left. This book is the result: her tale of her cross-country road trip with a cat (named Pig) and an alien for company and her subsequent actions against alien invasion.

I’d come to it with high hopes, and found it sadly disappointing. My main issue is gimmickiness. While the self-referential first person narration – with a note from her teacher and one from the National Time Capsule Committee – is memorable and a unique voice, it verges on annoying. The humor and puns likewise fall flat. It’s not that I have a problem with puns or silly, occasionally potty, humor – I quite happily read Terry Pratchet and Robert Asprin, and even Spider Robinson, after all – but in this case they seemed forced, like the author was trying to hard. As he was with the ‘Alien Invasion as Allegory for What We Did to the Native Americans” thing. Which is particularly a pity, as in unguarded moments he gives some of the best, most refreshingly honest portrayals of thoughtless racism in contemporary culture I’ve ever seen. Oh well. You win some, you lose some.

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