Friday, December 28, 2018

Smek for President!

Smek for President!
by Adam Rex
Recommended Ages: 11+

In this sequel to The True Meaning of Smekday (which also spawned an animated film titled Home), Gratuity "Tip" Tucci and her extraterrestrial friend J.Lo run away from home by flying the family car to New Boovworld, the moon of Saturn formerly known as Titan. There, while exploring J.Lo's quirky alien culture, they become gamepieces in a political campaign between the Highboov (Smek) and a challenger, whose name I've already forgotten. Also joining the campaign, at different times, are a talking parrot and a human who claims to have saved both races (human and Boov) from a common, alien enemy, though it was actually J.Lo and Tip who did that.

Except for the parrot, none of the candidates for office particularly care to have the truth come out, so the two become fugitives. It doesn't help that J.Lo is widely blamed for sending the signal that led the previous book's bad guys to Earth. People on New Boovworld call him the Squealer, and it isn't safe for him to show his face. Nevertheless, J.Lo hungers for reconciliation with his people, and Tip has his back. Surviving the manhunt, or rather Boovhunt, that Smek and Dan Landry have put on him will mean getting involved in the presidential race, even though J.Lo wants to be Highboov about as much as he wants to go to jail. So, their adventure evolves into a madcap parody of a U.S. presidential election, combined with three-dimensional chases in low gravity, shootouts with disintegration rays, tours of the yucky underbelly of a city built on its own garbage, and occasional passages in which quirky, graphic-novel-style panels take up the burden of storytelling.

I really enjoyed this novel. I lost count of the number of times it made me laugh until my sides ached. I especially loved reading about the issues between Tip and her mother. In addition to politics, the story also pokes rather pointed fun at society's thoughtless treatment of the environment, takes a goofy side-trip into time travel, and displays its author's endless and fearless inventiveness in every detail of the Boov cityscape. After reading three books by him, I'm now pretty convinced that Adam Rex is a talent to watch. Besides this series, several picture books for little 'uns, and Fat Vampire, he is also the author of the trilogy Cold Cereal, Unlucky Charms and Champions of Breakfast.

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