These will be brief, as I read them both ages ago and only now realized that I never got around to reviewing them.

True Meaning of Smekday, The is a marvelous and very funny science fiction comedy in which eleven-year-old Gratuity "Tip" Tucci tells the story of how Earth was colonized by aliens, and she ended up traveling cross-country in search of her mother in a flying car called Slushious, in the company of a conflicted alien named J. Lo.

This book has all sorts of elements which I normally hate, from cutesy pop culture references to heavy-handed messages ("colonialism is bad") to mocking Disneyland (easy target). Amazingly, I loved it anyway. It's very, very, very funny, the messages are on-target, and Tip is an extremely likable heroine, if a tad mature for eleven. There are some comic strips incorporated which tell the history of the aliens, and I nearly died laughing reading them.

I also liked that Tip is biracial (African-American/Italian) and it comes up believably, but that's not the subject of the story. Though I have to register my usual annoyance that while she is accurately depicted in the interior illustrations, she's not present on the cover. Seriously, would it kill publishers to occasionally depict people of color on the covers of books in which they are the protagonists?

I think anyone over about eight could appreciate this one, if their reading level is up to it.

Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story is a young adult novel, definitely not appropriate for young children, about a fat geeky teenage boy, Doug, who becomes the world's least glamorous vampire. It's nowhere near as assured or successful as Smekday.

It alternates narratives between Doug and Senjal, an Indian exchange student with an internet addiction. Doug's narration is dead-on as a geeky teenage boy. Senjal is potentially interesting but comes across more as a narrative construct than a flesh-and-blood character. But I was enjoying it, mostly for Doug's narration, until, at the two-thirds mark, the entire thing falls apart into a mess of preachiness and WTF.

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