Publication: November 2011 from Scholastic Press
Rating: 4.5 ♥ / 5 ♥ – I really liked it
Mal lives on the fringes of high school. Angry. Misunderstood. Quiet, but with a lot of words underneath.
Years ago, Mal disappeared for three days. Everyone tells him it was a breakdown, a seizure, something medical. He thinks it was something different. An alien abduction.
But there’s no way for him to know for sure.
Then, at an abductee support group, he meets Hooper, who has some otherwordly secrets of his own. And suddenly the truth is closer than Mal ever imagined it could be.
First Day on Earth is, at its base, an engaging glimpse into the life of a teen who believes he was abducted by aliens when he was younger. But it is so much more than that. At school, Mal’s the loner. At home, his mother’s too drunk to pay him any attention, and his dad – not in the picture. When Mal meets Hooper at a meeting for abductees, things begin to change. Especially when Hooper reveals there may be more to him than Mal could ever suspect.
Even though this book is centered on Mal it’s hard to get a feel for him. Not because he has no strong personality, but because he’s so conflicted. Mal is a bright kid, and kind. He’s had a lot happen in his life and he’s coping the best way he can. He has never told his classmates about being abducted as a kid, but when he and Hooper are joined on their jaunt to meet aliens by two of Mal’s classmates, Mal realizes that sometimes, things need to change and it doesn’t always have to be for the worst. It would have been nice to see a bit more in depth detail to the characters and story, and yet, it somehow still works. More detail may have just taken away from the impact of the writing and immediacy of Mal’s actions and life.
Cecil Castellucci’s writing really showcases Mal’s insecurities, thoughts and dreams really well. I was completely engaged in the story and wanted the best for Mal, whether that was leaving Earth with aliens or staying and moving forward with his life. First Day on Earth may talk about and contain aliens from outer space, but it is very much about feeling like an alien here on Earth, in our own lives. Definitely worth the read!
Hardcover copy received from Scholastic Canada in exchange for my honest review. Thank you!