Simon is obsessed with aliens. He’s also afraid of them, especially the greys, because they are the ones that abduct people. When Simon is apparently abducted on a family camping trip, his life is turned upside-down as he tries to figure out why.
Why this book?: I really like the idea of aliens.Who likes The X-Files? That’s why.
I would like to the people at Clarion Books for allowing me to have an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
My original rating for this book was too generous. I didn’t know what I would say in positive light for this book, but at the same time I didn’t feel that it deserved the very lowest rating. But when you can’t think of anything good to say about a book, when there’s literally nothing I even slightly liked, then does it really deserve generosity? Especially when it’s supposed to be an honest review. I can’t think of anything about this book that I enjoyed, so in trying to be positive, I don’t think I can maintain honesty.
I didn’t hate this book. I just didn’t like anything about it. Upon first opening the ARC, the writing was very juvenile. And yes, I understand that this book is a middle grade novel, written for younger kids, but even taking that into account, the writing was over simplified. In addition to the writing, the story was bland. I felt like there was no development of the aliens or the alien story line. It was only Simon getting abducted, and his parents not believing him despite everything. My least favorite part was when Simon had to go to a therapist and was given three prescriptions after his first meeting. I’ve mentioned it before, but when I went to a therapist, I only got one prescription, after two years of therapy, and it still barely does anything for me. Smith’s portrayal of the mental health system was just insulting.
Even worse is that it wasn’t just the story that was bland, but the story that the author had Simon write and insert into the story was also bland. Smith wrote two stories in one, inserting a stereotypical fantasy story that had no importance to the plot of the actual story. I had to read five chapters of this 12-year-old’s terrible writing, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the aliens or the characters. And then, at the very end when I thought I was rid of everything terrible about this book, he inserts the fantasy story at the very end, further increasing the frustrations I had with this book.
Normally for me, if the book has well-developed characters, I can get past a terrible plot. But when a book has a terrible plot, terrible writing, and badly developed and two-dimensional characters, then there’s really nothing left for me to like. Simon was only about aliens and fantasy stuff, and there was barely any development besides that. Simon’s friend, who I don’t even remember the name of because he was just bad, was a white kid who went around calling everyone “hombre”. And for some reason, Simon’s brother’s girlfriend was BFFs with Simon after meeting once. The dad was just mean, and the mom was defined solely by her love of Simon.
Simon was biracial, and there were periodic comments on this fact, and I took note of that fact. Simon’s brother’s girlfriend was Brazilian, and a few ethnic foods were mentioned but that was literally it. Smith’s attempt at representation was appreciated, but fell flat for me.
Final Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
I went into this book really wanting a good alien story, but instead I get thrown into family drama, bad mental health representation, and a 12-year-olds attempt at writing a stereotypical fantasy story that I’ve read a good 20 times. I found nothing of value in this book, nothing I enjoyed, and every little thing ended up bothering me till no end. I was even able to predict how the book ended, which was just a weird and unnecessarily outlandish ending that didn’t connect with the entire rest of the book at all.
Would I Recommend?
Not at all. I didn’t enjoy this book, I felt bored by it, I felt insulted by it at certain points, and I just found nothing I could even begin to like in this story. Everything I was hoping for was thrown out the window, in favor of things that didn’t really seem to matter at all.
Published: February 19th, 2019
Publisher: Clarion Books
Synopsis: via Goodreads
Twelve-year-old Simon is obsessed with aliens. The ones who take people and do experiments. When he’s too worried about them to sleep, he listens to the owls hoot outside. Owls that have the same eyes as aliens—dark and foreboding.
Then something strange happens on a camping trip, and Simon begins to suspect he’s been abducted. But is it real, or just the overactive imagination of a kid who loves fantasy and role-playing games and is the target of bullies and his father’s scorn?
Even readers who don’t believe in UFOs will relate to the universal kid feeling of not being taken seriously by adults that deepens this deliciously scary tale.
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