Alien on a Rampage
by Clete Barrett Smith
Recommended Ages: 12+
In his second summer at the Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast, David (formerly "Scrub") Elliott expects to enjoy his time with Grandma, his sweetheart Amy, and a houseful of extraterrestrial tourists. But things get off to a disappointing start, and get worse from there. First, he suspects that the new alien handyman is up to no good. But far from being able to convince anyone to listen to his concerns, David soon learns that Grandma, Amy, and her security-chief Dad trust skull-faced Scratchull more than they trust him. The more he tries to prove his suspicions, the more Scratchull makes him look like a fool—or worse.
Then David realizes that nothing less than the survival of Earth is at stake, but for his efforts to save the planet he gets into even worse trouble. Just when he is about to be sent home in disgrace, he recognizes Scratchull's final, villainous plan to escape from his exile on Earth, a plan to turn the town's Pioneer Day celebration into a cosmic scene of terror.
Yes, David has a rough summer. His good-humored character is put to another severe test, as he faces discouragement, desperation, and the disappointment of the people he cares about. Plus, he has to deal with a missing Sasquatch, a forest meadow that suddenly turns into quicksand, a river that suddenly turns into a glacier, and a gooey alien who keeps losing bits of himself. Meanwhile, he is put in charge of a dog-like alien who needs constant exercise and who, if not fed hugely and often, may eat them out of house and home. Literally. And, after all, saving the world is a lot of responsibility for a thirteen-year-old boy.
I enjoyed the first book in the "Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast" series, but I think this second book is even better. It deftly combines the weirdness of visitors from other planets with comedy, wit, thrilling sci-fi danger, and a warm glow of puppy love (in more than one sense). The sinister genius of Scratchull's gadgets, the aftereffects of Grandma's scones, the furniture-chewing antics of the creature known as Snarffle, and the sarcastic retorts of the toothpick-chewing ex-sheriff Tate, fill what might otherwise be a predictable, formulaic story with creative touches. I am eager to beam up to Book 3, Aliens in Disguise.