Of Jenny and the Aliens

When Derek was in second grade, space programs around the world united to create a message directed at a nearby Earth-like planet dubbed Pud 5. Now just weeks before his 18th birthday, Earth has received a response: music. None of this matters much to Derek, who thinks that life on Earth isn't about to end "[j]ust because life exists on another planet." What matters to Derek is losing his virginity to "someone who actually likes" him, not someone who "thinks aliens are about to murder her." When super hot, super cool Jennifer approaches him (topless) at a party to see if he wants to play beer pong, Derek is sure it's the start of something amazing. He has zero experience with girls, but Jenny (who Derek has heard "has slept with four guys and fooled around with a couple of girls") seems like she might really like him. As Derek's crush spirals into daydreams of growing old with Jenny, he finds her affections torn. A late-night encounter with a pot-smoking alien musician named Karo gives Derek new perspective and he realizes what he must do: start an intergalactic war to win Jenny's heart.

Of Jenny and the Aliens by Ryan Gebhart (There Will Be Bears) is a hilarious and wildly imaginative romp through first love and first contact. Gebhart's characters are realistic and their actions and reactions believable; lovable, flawed Derek is a fantastic narrator whose missteps in love will have readers cringing alongside him. In a genre plagued with familiar tropes, Gebhart's aliens are a breath of fresh air, particularly Karo and his odd penchant for the Cleveland Browns and all things humanity-related. Gebhart's bold, slightly crude humor is a highlight in this wonderfully entertaining and memorable tale not to be missed. --Kyla Paterno, former children's and YA book buyer

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