Literature / The True Meaning of Smekday

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The True Meaning of Smekday is a humorous Young Adult Science Fiction story written by Adam Rex and published by Hyperion/Disney. It all starts with a school essay. When twelve-year-old Gratuity ("Tip") Tucci is assigned to write five pages on "The True Meaning of Smekday" for the National Time Capsule contest, she's not sure where to begin. When her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens - called Boov - abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it "Smekland" (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod?

In any case, Gratuity's story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a futile journey south to find Gratuity's mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar called Slushious; and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion. Fully illustrated with "photos," drawings, newspaper clippings, and comics sequences, this books breathes new life into the "Kid Hero" genre.

The book was loosely adapted into a movie by DreamWorks, titled Home, and was released in March 2015, starring Rihanna, Jim Parsons, and the actual J-Lo.

Tropes in this book:

  • Affectionate Parody: Of the Kid Hero genre, and also of most "alien invasion" movies.
  • Alien Abduction: Gratuity's mom and others are abducted a few months before the actual alien invasion to teach the Boov English.
  • Art Shift: Things like the history of the Boov and the Nimrogs are told in the style of a graphic novel.
  • Benevolent Alien Invasion: The Boov think of themselves as this, and indeed they begin to come off as such once the highly-destructive Gorg show up. (The Gorg in turn manage to convince some key humans that they are this, offering the cure for cancer.)
  • Big Red Button: One of the koobish who were transported to the moon via capsule leans on this, and causes the capsule to explode.
  • Bizarre Alien Sexes: the Boov aliens have 7 sexes that translate in English to: girl, boy, boygirl, girlboy, boyboy, boyboygirl, and boyboyboyboy.
  • Brainless Beauty: Gratuity's mom Lucy starts out like this, but later shows her leadership skills.
  • Catch Phrase: Gratuity's is "Pardon my language." These turn out to be her last words.
  • Celebrity Survivor: The culture of celebrity worship continues even after every human being in America has been moved to Arizona. Actors now live in "New Hollywood" (Scottsdale), where they "fill their days with activities such as smiling and waving at cats as they anticipate the eventual restart of the film industry." Musical artists live in Sedona and perform benefit concerts to raise awareness of the alien invasion.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The book catches a really quick wind of it at the end. See Deadly Distant Finale and Downer Ending below.
  • Character Blog: a site for the time capsule Gratuity sends her essay to.
  • Running Gag: This book has a lot of death by asphyxiation from Boov and koobish.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Boov and the Gorg fall into the "Aliens as Conquistadores" category, with the Boov being an obvious parody of colonialism (by putting all humans on reservations).
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Curly. Luckily, Gratuity replaces his expletives with "bleep".
  • Souvenir Land: "Happy Mouse Kingdom", a thinly veiled parody of Disney World.
  • Starfish Language: The Boov's written language is bubbles and their spoken language, apparently, would require sheep and some bubblewrap if a human wanted to do it. One of their major cultural figures is called "Sound-of-a-crying-baby-riding-on-a-duck-which-is-talking-with-its-mouth-full".
  • Disneyfication: The animated adaptation, Home, drops most of the more edgy and interesting themes of the book.

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