Cecil Castellucci's FIRST DAY ON EARTH (Scholastic, November 2011) reminds me once again about her incredible ability to draw readers into a story and hold them spellbound. BEIGE, BOY PROOF,and ROSE SEES RED certainly did that for me. Now, her latest novel takes me on a journey that sounds so far-fetched initially but is made all too real because Castellucci crafts characters the reader can see and understand even if they share nothing in common.
Mal has not had an easy life. His mother is an alcoholic; Mal cares for her as best he can. His father left years ago with no warning, went out to the store and never returned. But the most important thing to know about Mal is this: he was abducted by aliens, held by them for 3 days, and then returned. He has, of course, told no one about this. I can sense your skepticism already, but once you read the first chapter and hear Mal's voice, you will want to know more, trust me. Mal wanders into a group one night thinking he is in Alateen only to find he has managed to find an abduction support group: here are people who have been taken as well. Will this be Mal's redemption? VOICE is what draws readers in; CHARACTER is what will make them linger; STORY is what will mesmerize them. <235>
Tie this book to THE PULL OF GRAVITY, TALES OF THE MADMAN UNDERGROUND, YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW ME and the trilogy by David Klass that includes FIRESTORM for an interesting ladder.