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Richie's Picks: STUCK ON EARTH

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  • BudNotBuddy@aol.com
    Richie s Picks: STUCK ON EARTH by David Klass, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, March 2010, 227p., ISBN: 978-0-374-39951-1 But can you, save me Come on and, save
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2009
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      Richie's Picks: STUCK ON EARTH by David Klass, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, March 2010, 227p., ISBN: 978-0-374-39951-1
       
      "But can you, save me
      Come on and, save me"
      -- Aimee Mann
       
      "'Hello, Tom.  You don't mind if I call you that, do you?  My name is Ketchvar.  Please try to relax.  Would you like a cup of water?'
      "I modify the paralysis ray to return control of his vocal cords, larynx, and the other bodily parts required for speech.
      "Tom Filber slowly opens his mouth and licks his lips.  'Please don't eat me,' he whispers.  'I have a rash and it's highly contagious, so if you eat me you'll catch it and die.'
      "'I have no plans to ingest you,' I tell him.  I try to recall some other typical human fears about extraterrestrials and attempt to set his mind at ease.  'Nor am I interested in dissecting you to learn about human anatomy.  And here's some more good news, Tom -- I also do not intend to try to impregnate you.'
      "My reassurances do not have the intended soothing effect,  His blood pressure surges and he begins hyperventilating,  He moistens his lips with his tongue again and whispers, 'Take my sister.'"
       
      Fourteen year-old Tom Filber has more than enough problems already.  He is oppressed by his mother, tortured by his big sister, bullied by his schoolmates, and obsessed with his beautiful next door neighbor.  Now, after being chosen randomly, he has been temporarily abducted by aliens orbiting the planet, and Ketchvar, a snail-like extraterrestrial from a distant galaxy, has left his shell in order to enter (via Tom's nostril), and take control of, Tom's brain.  Tom's own consciousness will be temporarily locked into a Ragwellian Bubble and suspended inside his parental lobe where Ketchvar can communicate with him when it is helpful to do so.
       
      Ketchvar is on a mission for the Galactic Federation in which he is to evaluate the human race by viewing it through the eyes of this New Jersey teen.  Humanity is already the laughingstock of the Federation and Earth appears to be dying thanks to humankind's gross mismanagement.  There is a Federation proposal on the table to eradicate the human race in order to protect the planet's viability and remaining creatures, and to open up a new home for the Lugonians, whose sun is dying.  
       
      Ketchvar, who will make the pivotal recommendation, sends regular updates to the Federation: 
       
      "...It is now two in the morning and I am online and wearing earphones.  I have now listened to every song in Tom Filber's extensive music collection.  These fall into three genres: hip-hop, punk, and industrial.  As I write this, I am listening to a gangster rapper named Shorty D. Long singing about putting a cap in his ho.
      "One can draw a straight line from the epics of Homer to this rap song by Shorty D. Long.  All of human art seems dedicated to the glorification of violence and the romanticization of the impulse to procreate.  The first is frequently called warfare and the second is known as love..."
       
      Experiencing Tom's school days and home life, Ketchvar is beginning to wonder whether their random choice resulted in the examination of a fourteen year-old from an atypical family, or whether all human families can possibly be this miserable and dysfunctional.  It is when he has steadily become invested in the interpersonal relationships in Tom's life, and things are seemingly at their worst, that the Federation's ship inexplicably disappears from its orbit around Earth and Ketchvar must face the possibility of indefinitely living the life of a struggling teen, and trying to do something concrete about saving the planet.
       
      "And more than human can we be
      Cause human's truly locked
      To this planetary circle"
      -- Paul Kantner 
       
      Touching, weird, relevant, and a great piece of storytelling, STUCK ON EARTH is a uber-quirky middle school favorite in the making.
       
      Richie Partington, MLIS
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      FTC NOTICE: Richie receives free books from lots of publishers who hope he will Pick their books.  You can figure that any review was written after reading and dog-earring a free copy received.  Richie retains these review copies for his rereading pleasure and for use in his booktalks at schools and libraries.
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