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4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Twisty and Engaging UFO Adventure/Lark, 23 Feb. 2015
This book is a total hoot, and it's smarter, funnier, better written and better plotted than a quick glance might at first suggest.

In a nutshell the plot sounds fairly predictable. Aidan lives at his family's motel on the Cape Canaveral coast. Aidan and his UFO obsessed buddy Louis witness a UFO event while working a shuttle launch party. Coverups, invasion rumors, and suspicions about the possibly extra-terrestrial origins of some of the motel guests ensue. Aidan, Louis and a high-tech maybe alien girl, Dru, investigate.

Now, this could be the basis for a perfectly fine fun adventure mystery. But, it is a lot more than that, mainly because the three young characters are so well-written and because all three are observant, insightful and funny. Aidan has a very deadpan delivery, is a bit world weary for a twelve year old, and is the most skeptical of the three. Louis is a total believer and is the high energy sparkplug who keeps the more frantic aspects of the adventure going. Dru is the mysterious x-factor who keeps the boys on their toes. All three are awarded some very funny throwaway lines, and are supported by a dry subtle narrative that pokes fun at pretty much everything, (Florida, motel guests, UFO conspiracies, media coverage, etc.), as the story bubbles along. The author lands a few digs here and there, but as is appropriate for a middle grade humor/adventure there isn't a lot of sarcasm and not much in the way of irony. This is gee whiz, knowing, knuckleheaded territory, staked out with high energy. The plot is very twisty but has a very solid resolution.

While the author isn't based in Florida this book has the feel of the Florida "style" pioneered by people like Carl Hiaasen and Dave Berry - big jokes and little nudges, and sunshine, and quirky appealing main characters, and scads of funny secondary characters who come and go, and plots that keep spinning around until all of the loose ends come together. That's what you get here.

This is a very entertaining read and a nice find.

Please note that I received a free advance ecopy of this book in exchange for a candid review. Apart from that I have no connection at all to either the author or the publisher of this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hopefully the beginning of a series!, 10 Jun. 2014
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Steven R. McEvoy "MCWPP" (Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
With each new book published by Greg Leitich Smith I am more impressed with his writing. This book was a great fun story. It was humorous, entertaining and a little silly, but that being said it is a book kids will love. Greg is the author of the Chronal Engine and also the two books set at the Preshtigo School in Chicago: Ninja, Piranhas, and Galileo and Tofu and T. Rex. This book set in Cocoa Beach in South Florida is a mash up of Beach culture, UFO enthusiast, and Space Flight fanatics around the Cape.

Aiden lives and works at his parent’s hotel on the Space Coast, the Mercury Inn. His best friend Louis also works at the hotel and is definitely a UFO enthusiast, who swears he saw a UFO two years ago during the accident in which he lost his leg. The Mercury Inn is known for throwing huge parties during any space launches. And Aiden and Louis have seen a lot of weird stuff working at the hotel but things have just got a whole lot weirder. An actual UFO appears during a scheduled space launch and caused life for all at the inn to get even crazier.

What young reader would not enjoy a story with aliens, UFO’s, government cover-up’s, weird scientists, exuberant media personalities, and a couple of guys just trying to figure out the lengths that friendships can go, especially if one of the new friends ends up being a little less than human. This book is a great entertaining read, humorous, quirky and full of surprises. So give it a try and see where Greg will take your imagination!
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