It took my son and I about two months to read this book aloud together – very good value for our entertainment dollar, even if means we’re starting on Jinx’s Fire a little later than we’d hoped. I am still anxious to make it to the theater to see Home, even if it can’t possibly be as good as the book.
Smek for President by Adam Rex. Disney-Hyperion, 2015.
More crazy adventures with aliens ensue in this sequel to The True Meaning of Smekday. J.Lo, Tip (now 13) and her mother are all living peacefully in a small town on a lake. The slimy politician Tip caught trying to make a deal with the Gorg in the last book has now taken credit for defeating them, as Tip decided that she didn’t need the notoriety that would come with the world knowing that she and J.Lo actually drove them out. J.Lo is now part of the family, but he still wishes that his fellow Boov didn’t blame him for the whole Gorg invasion thing. He gets it into his head that if he just journeys to New Boovworld, the moon of Saturn where the Boov are now living, and tells the High Boov Smek his story in person, that all will be well.
Tip, meanwhile, is chafing at her mother’s new attempts at involved parenting after a childhood where Tip did most of the nurturing. That fuels her decision to travel to New Boovworld with J.Lo in a newly souped-up Slushious, without asking her mother first. It’s just supposed to be a quick trip – but that hope fades as they find New Boovworld in the middle of its first-ever presidential election, pitting long-time High Boov General Smek against a new populist candidate, Ponch Sandhandler. General Smek is on edge, and his reaction to J.Lo’s confession is (not to be too spoilerish) terrifying. Wild adventuring ensues, the adventure going above and under-ground, with both Tip and J.Lo being chased both by official guards and an unknown assassin in black. All the while, election politics carry on, with footage broadcast across screens everywhere. And now that there is no clear way to get home, Gratuity would really, really like to see her mom again.
This isn’t quite the same level of social commentary that there was in The True Meaning of Smekday. But it is still a lot of fun, and is still a winning combination of action and humor. (My son, I’ll note, was slightly bored at the beginning, even for the space journey, until actual chasing started.) There’s some relationship evaluating as well, both between Tip and J.Lo and Tip and her mother. This could be a fun introduction for middle grade kids to start looking at election politics and how far people will go to get elected. My verdict: still well worth reading, even if we didn’t love it quite as much as the first one.