cover image First Day on Earth

First Day on Earth

Cecil Castellucci. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (160p) ISBN 978-0-545-06082-0

Mal, a high school loner who has all but withdrawn from the world, believes that aliens abducted him four years earlier in the California desert, where he disappeared for three days. And he wouldn’t mind if they came back for him. It’s easy to see why Mal would want to escape Earth: his mother has a drinking problem, his father abandoned them six years ago, and he’s ostracized and taunted at school. When Mal meets a strange man at a support group for alien abductees, Hooper surprises Mal by claiming to be an extraterrestrial. Is Hooper insane—or Mal’s best chance for getting off the planet? Castellucci (Rose Sees Red) gives Mal a strong narrative voice, but while Mal is a sympathetic protagonist, most of the characters feel like types, from his alcoholic mother to popular Posey, who is hiding a painful secret. Readers may find the climactic road trip Mal takes with Posey—ostensibly to take Hooper to meet a spaceship—equally contrived: in the course of one day, Mal goes to a random house party, faces his father, learns Posey’s secret, and more. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)