First Day on Earth by Cecil Castellucci
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.
This is my second read by Cecil Castellucci and most definitely not my last. When this book showed up on my doorstep, I was intrigued, but I put off reading it for a few months because I had no idea what to expect. Was this going to be a hardcore fantasy novel, or something more? Once I picked this up, I couldn't put it down and found myself surprised in so many ways by this unassuming read. First Day on Earth can be finished in an incredibly short amount of time and while I wish it was a tad longer to allow for more character development, I did end up enjoying First Day on Earth and it left me thinking, thinking, thinking.
Mal is a unique character that is dealing with a lot. His pain and emotions are clear right away and the short chapters allowed him to develop quite well. Mal has a lot of ideas about life not only on Earth, but on other planets. For some reason I was thinking this was a middle grade book, but it was far from it. Mal was an intense character, dealing with so many internal struggles. His character is so different from anyone I've ever read about. I felt for him because everyone thought he was this mean kid filled with hate and darkness, but Mal respects life and his love for animals is a great side story.
The book mainly focuses on Mal and his "journey" over the course of the book, but there are some important secondary characters. Hooper, Darwyn, and Posey, in particular. Mal meets Hooper at a group session and is torn between believing Hooper really is an alien and wondering if Hooper is just dealing with a mental illness. Mal himself believes there is life on other planets and that he was even abducted a few years back. All of this makes for an intriguing and thoughtful read.
First Day on Earth is by no means my "usual" read, but I'm so glad I decided to pick it up. The last book of Cecil's I read was Rose Sees Red and I enjoyed this just as much. Cecil Castellucci doesn't shy from tackling unique subject matter and her writing style in First Day on Earth was perfect for this book. Although I wish it could have been a bit longer, the ending was satisfying and I found myself thinking of this book even after I'd turned the last page. I definitely recommend giving this book a shot and wish it was getting more attention!
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
November 1, 2011/Scholastic Press/150 Pages/Young Adult
Source: Publisher (ARC)