A startling, wonderful novel about the true meaning of being an alien in an equally alien world.
"We are specks. Pieces of dust in this universe. Big nothings.
"I know what I am."
Mal lives on the fringes of high school. Angry. Misunderstood. Yet loving the world -- or, at least, an idea of the world.
Then he meets Hooper. Who says he's from another planet. And may be going home very soon.
I picked this book up on a whim. It seemed so small and I wanted to feel a sense of accomplishment that only a small read can bring.
I found myself pouring over the words, slowing down, even rereading sections where I thought the prose was most beautiful. This very small read packed a huge punch.
Mal wants to believe there is more to this world than what humans think is possible. Scratch that, Mal already knows there is much more than anyone knows. Mal has been abducted by aliens and that was the very best moment of his life. At seventeen he already knows that life is full of extreme disappointments. He would like to go seek out the aliens that had taken him, to travel the stars and leave Earth far behind in his galactic rear view mirror, but he can't. His mother needs him, she can't function without him.
He spends his days being bullied at school. Then he comes home to a drunk mother who is probably already passed out in her own vomit. He will clean her up, go to the grocery store. He will make her dinner and see that she eats. He will listen to the town gossips when they say she used to be lovely, and even though she was beautiful she just couldn't hang on to that husband of hers. He will hear them say she is crazy.
Mal hangs out at a local support group for people who have been abducted. It is at one of these meetings that he meets Hooper. Spending time with Hooper makes Mal feel validated in his alien theories. When he finds out that Hooper is an alien and wants to leave the planet Mal does everything in his power to make Hooper take him on the journey of a lifetime.
Castellucci pulls no punches with the writing. The story is sparsely narrated and full of raw emotion. Mal is completely unreliable and the reader is unsure if aliens do actually exist or if they exist only for Mal as a coping mechanism. I highly recommend reading this small gut punchy novel, and I hope to read more from Castellucci in the future.