the only alien on the planet + giveaway

Alyce at At Home with Books has started a weekly tradition of revisiting past reading favorites and bringing them into the spotlight.

This week’s feature is The Only Alien on the Planet, by Kristen D. Randle. It’s another find from the YA section in my local library. During my senior year of high school I made the trip to the library a few times a week. Somehow I fit it in between school, swim practice, work and volunteer activities. I was a receptionist at the local pool that year, and had lots of free time behind a desk for reading. Or if I didn’t, I made time. In any case, I picked up this book for the beautiful cover art and wacky title (as soon as I was sure it wasn’t truly about ALIENS, which have never been my ‘thing’), and found myself surprised, moved and emotionally engaged from page one.

Ginny Christianson had been a happy person: "happy, cheerful, easygoing, reasonably popular even." When her family suddenly relocates and a beloved older brother leaves for college at the same time--well, let's just say Ginny is a "displaced person." As life manages to go on, a strange boy at school captures Ginny's attention. Smitty Tibbs is a brilliant, handsome boy who never speaks. He’s known as the Alien and lives isolated from emotion and communication – tolerated by the other students but pretty much left alone. Meanwhile, Ginny's new friend Caulder has long been fascinated with Smitty and is determined to break through to him. Together Caulder and Ginny take on Smitty’s remoteness and begin to probe at the barriers and silence he lives behind. Narrated by a deft and engaging teen voice in Ginny, the overall impact of this psychological novel is extremely powerful.

I suggest skipping some of the editorial reviews on Amazon and other sites – they contain massive spoilers. Part of the beauty of this book is that it radiates tension and mystery, just like its resident alien, Smitty. Ginny, the narrator, is a wonderful character – full of life and insecurities and getting to know herself even as she feels out of place and distanced in a new environment. Also highlighted are family dynamics and the stress and pressure that change puts on relationships as people grow up and circumstances alter. I think that the only other thing I can say is that this book bent my world. In a good way.

After I read Alien for the first time (and the second, re-reading it right over again), I wanted to know why I hadn’t heard of it before. I mean, I haunted our local libraries. I read all of the little booklets announcing the YA classics and titles for reluctant readers, and voluntarily worked my way through my 9th grade English teacher’s booklist (she had something like 50 books listed). Why was a book that had changed my life a relative unknown?

It was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, as well as an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. My best guess, then, is that before the re-birth of the YA genre (ala Harry Potter and Twilight) and without the massive word-of-mouth machine that has developed with the advent of YA book blogs, this amazing novel simply didn’t have the publicity outside of library circles to make it big. I’m very happy to say that it’ll be back in print on September 1, 2009, with Sourcebooks’ Jabberwocky imprint.


In celebration of that fact (and because I think anyone and everyone should read this), I’m giving away one (1) copy.

To enter:

Leave a comment on this post answering the question, “Which book changed your world?”

Please include your email address. Giveaway is open internationally. Comments will close on September 1 at 11:59pm EST, and I will notify the randomly selected winner via email.

Good luck!


Steph Bowe said...

Town by James Roy.
It's a series of interconnected short stories by an Australian author that I read a few years ago. And for the first time in my life, I just went: Wow, this is a real representation of what life's like as a teenager. This book doesn't lie. Nothing's glorified, it's just raw and real and truthful. I was lucky enough to meet this author last month, and this was a book that really inspired me to write and write truthfully.

steph (at) stephbowe (dot) com

Kristen said...

A book that changed my world? I'd have to say that Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy really jumpstarted my reading of fantasy/paranormal. I read them in middle school and then started to lean heavily towards fantasy every time I bought/checked out a book.

Mandy said...

Ender's Game by Orsen Scott Card

I can't even remember at what age I read this book but it floored me. Since reading it, though, I gravitate towards smart SciFi, versus adventure SciFi, and I have to say it's my favourite genre.
I can't say that I've enjoyed his other books as much, or even the others in the series, there's just something about this book that fascinated me when I was younger.

mandy @ wordsworthbooks dot com

Jenners said...

This sounds like an amazing book. I've never heard of it....and I love that the alien is in fact a person. I would love to win this book. So let's see...what is a book that changed my world?

Thinking back to childhood, I remember reading the Narnia books for the first time and being blown away that an author could create such a fully-realized fantasy world (of course, I didn't phrase it that way...I just was drawn in) and then my dad pointed out the symbolism of the books and I was amazed that books could have more than one meaning. It really changed my views of reading and sucked me in deep!

Nicole said...

It sounds weird, but Stephen King's The Eyes of the Dragon is the first book I can remember that blew me away. I started reading King at a pretty young age, and that book was NOTHING like any of his other novels. It's one that I've continued to reread every year or two throughout my adulthood, and I never get tired of it.

Little Women and A Wrinkle in Time were also books that made me feel something unique and special while I read them. It was just a feeling of being truly transported, as though magic were happening right there in my bedroom.

Sue said...

I feel like such a girl saying it, but at about fourteen years old, Pride and Prejudice made me into a reader. I couldn't get enough of books and classics after I read it.
Thanks for sharing.
s.mickelson at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Awesome Giveaway!

The first book I can remember really impacting me was The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. It was the first real, not-YA novel that I read and it introduced me to the classic adventure genre that I absolutely love now. I can always go back to one of Dumas's novels and have the feeling of leaving my own life and entering that of one of the characters. This book also made Dumas one of my favorite authors. : )

ecaramil @ gmail . com

Sandra said...

Sounds like you really loved this book and so will others who read YA fiction. Nice that you combine a giveaway with My Favourite Books. But don't enter me.

Sage Ravenwood said...

Which book changed my world?

Charles de Lint's "The Onion Girl".
He allows his main character Jillian, to peel away the layers she had hidden herself in to discover the little girl that was abused as a young child. I was able to relate to Jillian on so many levels. He had hinted to the abuse in earlier books but "The Onion Girl" brought it full circle.

It freed me up to realize it was ok to comfort the child I was, yet move on to the woman I would become.

Thanks for including me in this drawing! Indigo

rhapsodyinbooks said...

The book that changed my world was probably the nonfiction book "Rules for Radicals" by Saul Alinsky.

Thanks for the contest!

nbmars AT yahoo DOT com

Mozi Esme said...

My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers...

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

Mermaid-Spark said...

Would have to be the whole Chronicles of Narnia. I read them straight through and then straight through again. They somehow made me feel connected to magic.

rubymoonstone at gmail dot com

chocowafer said...

Hmm, I would have to say The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho. Though it's not the main theme of the book, it made my belief in the essence and power of true love stronger. :)


Unknown said...

The Chronicles of Narnia started me on fantasy novels, I think. I can't remember reading any before those.

Llehn said...

The First Form At Malory Towers by Enid Blyton made me want to write my own books.


Libby's Library said...

Oh my goodness, I don't remember what I read a month ago, let alone 40 years ag1...but I did read a book last week, that really touched my.
Blue Hole Back Home, by Joy Jordan-Lake.

Thanks so much for another great giveaway.

Anonymous said...

The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale. Through that book I've learned to look at everything in a whole new way.
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

Anonymous said...

Tough question. I think my answer would have to be The Chronicles of Narnia.

carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

Leslie said...

The Truth about Forever by Sarah Dessen. It was an amazing book and it let me see myself in a totally diffrent eyes because i am very like the main character =)

leslie-lv at hotmail dot com

Sheere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sheere said...

The book that changed my world was The Valley of the Wolves by Laura Gallego Garcia. It was the first serious book that I read... It woke the bookworm in me!

Ryan said...

If you would have asked me this question 15 years ago I would have said Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Now that I'm older and wiser I would have to say a number of Agatha Christie books when I was in 5th grade. That's when I really fell in love with reading and I have never stopped since.

Alyce said...

I have heard of this book, but haven't ever read it. It sounds great though!

The first sci-fi book I read "Starmen's Quest" by Robert Silverberg began a life-long love of sci-fi.

akreese (at) hotmail (dot) com

Jo said...

This book sounds so intriguing!

The book that changed my world was Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings, simply because it was the book that made me a fan of reading. I had read books before as I had to for school, and there were some stories I liked, but I would never read a new book, I'd read the ones I already liked over... and that only happened once in a blue moon. So this book was such an eye-opener to the wonderful world of books, the wonderful worlds, lives, people, experiences I could witness through books. I don't even want to think about all these amazing books I would have missed out on if it wasn't for Pawn of Prophecy. It's the first in a series, so it was perfect, as I just picked up the next straight after, and the next, and then the next....

Email: joannestapley[at]googlemail[dot]com

BN Book Blog said...

I think that the book that changed my life was the first Magic Tree House book. It sounds rather stupid, but I fell in love with fantasy then when I was only 7.

Beth (Nathan's MIA)

Shawna L. said...

Shawna Lewis

My world was changed after I read the Harry Potter books!!! Loved them and they changed my world in a good way!!!

Thanks for this chance to win this book.

Anonymous said...

This is a hard question to answer for me. I recall so many books that made a big impact on me. I think I would have to say either the Little House on the Prarie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder or the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Montgomery. These were the first books in Junior High or High School that I think stimulated my love for reading.

I think a little later on, Jane Austen novels struck my fancy and had my nose constantly buried in a book.

I love to hear that a book struck you so dramatically. I've never heard of it and I'd love to have a chance to win it. Thanks!


Debs Desk said...

A book that changed by world would be - wow, I am not sure any book has changed my world. Please include me in your giveaway.

April (BooksandWine) said...

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster definately made me love reading. I think if I was not in love with books, my life would be different, and fairly empty!


Ginny Larsen said...

one hundred years of solitude or 1984...

both are some of my all time favs--they just had a lot of meaning in them and made you think.

larsenvt (AT) gmail (DOT) com

Sarah said...

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - such a beautifully written tale.


Mystica said...

Pride and Prejudice changed my world! made me fall in love with books.



Kara said...

The Phantom Tollbooth changed my life! I still read it from time to time. I'll probably be in my 20s, 30s, and 40s, still reading this book.

brit said...

I don’t think I have just one book that changed my world/outlook and created those moments where I just wanted to snuggle up with my book and marry it, all objectum sexual like. But more than that, the best books are the ones that entrance you and allow you to peak inside a world so unlike your own that your maybe envious of, and those 3 cover it, pretty much.

"The Time Traveler's Wife" (before it got famous and before the movie came out when I had my own ideas of what Clare looked like, thanks Rachel McAdams. Oh hey, while I was searching her name, did you know that Brad Pitt was one of the producers? Man, that guy is sexy.) It’s like a rollercoaster of emotions, you’re laughing, and then suddenly, you’re on a cloud because of the romance and then the next minute you’re trying not to get tears on the pages. Besides being half sci-fi, there was nearly everything in there that could happen to a normal person in the span of a lifetime covered in about 520 pages without being showy or boring. Oh, and most of all it made me appreciate my mom for giving birth vaginally.

"A Hat Full of Sky” it was so smart, I love books that teach you little life lessons and show real human nature, the ugly and great sides. And a 10 year old witch as the protagonist? So cool, even though the author is a guy. It’s so witty, Books that are inconspicuous are such a treat, you feel privileged to find a gem you would have ordinarily overlooked, well only if the book is magnificent. Not trying to sound like a scholar, but it’s a fact.
And lastly, *drum roll*

"Among the Hidden" whole class had to read it in seventh grade, it’s kind of like ‘all books weren’t boring and didn’t suck after reading this, made me want to read more, you always remember your first so ‘nuff said.’ It was a very mature novel to be directed for a young audience. And sometimes a depressing twist/ending can be the most memorable and moving thing in a novel compared to other happily ended ones.

I’m sorry if I went into too much detail for your liking. I’m just a book enthusiast and felt, why drop a title without giving any reason to why it rocked my world?
better not give me a virus, lady/dude.

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