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Written by Adam Rex. It all starts with a school essay. When twelve-year-old Gratuity ("Tip") Tucci is assigned to write five pages on "The True Meaning of Smekday" for the National Time Capsule contest, she's not sure where to begin. When her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens - called Boov - abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it "Smekland" (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod? In any case, Gratuity's story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a futile journey south to find Gratuity's mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar called Slushious; and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion. Fully illustrated with "photos," drawings, newspaper clippings, and comics sequences, this books breathes new life into the "Kid Hero" genre.
- Affectionate Parody: Of the Kid Hero genre, and also of most "alien invasion" movies.
- Alien Abduction: Gratuity's mom and others are abducted a few months before the actual alien invasion to teach the Boov English.
- Aliens Steal Cable
- Bizarre Sexual Heptamorphism: the Boov aliens have 7 sexes that translate in English to: girl, boy, boygirl, girlboy, boyboygirl, and boyboyboyboy.
- Brainless Beauty: Gratuity's mom Lucy starts out like this, but later shows her leadership skills.
- Character Blog: a site for the time capsule Gratuity sends her essay to.
- Deadly Distant Finale: the last page of the book is Gratuity's obituary. It describes how she died at the opening of the time capsule she sent her essay to.
- Ditto Aliens
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: J.Lo's story of how the Boov were forced out of the sea is equivalent to global warming.
- Putting the humans on reservations.
- Easily-Thwarted Alien Invasion: the Gorg are allergic to cats. They try to remedy this by killing any and all cats on the planet.
- Embarrassing First Name: Gratuity, so named because her mom did not know what Gratuity meant when she was born, as well as J.Lo, who learned his pop culture from TV.
- Gender Blender Name: J.Lo, a male alien named for a female pop star. The fact that his species has seven genders only serves to make everyone more confused.
- Humanoid Aliens: the Boov, as well as the Gorg.
- Innocent Alien: J.Lo
- Just Before the End
- Kid Hero: Gratuity
- Magical Native American: The Chief is a subversion of sorts of this
- Next Sunday AD: the book starts around 2011 which was about 3 years after when it was written.
- Non-Human Sidekick: both J.Lo the Boov and Gratuity's cat Pig.
- Pardon My Klingon
- Pig Latin: A group of runaway boys use pig latin (badly) because the Boov can't read it.
- The Quest: in a way.
- Rule of Funny
- Souvenir Land: "Happy Mouse Kingdom", a thinly veiled parody of Disney World.
- Starfish Language: The Boov's written language is bubbles and their spoken language, apparently, would require sheep and some bubblewrap if a human wanted to do it. One of their major cultural figures is called "Sound-of-a-crying-baby-riding-on-a-duck-which-is-talking-with-its-mouth-full".