I could hear Paul telling me, “Never, never make the mistake of thinking you’re the only alien on the planet.”
First of all, I can’t believe this is the first time I’m reviewing this book, because it’s honestly been on my “favorite books of all time” list since, I don’t know, 2005? Maybe earlier? It’s an amazing book and I’ve reread it probably a dozen times, and it never gets old. It is easily the most underrated book I’ve ever read in my life and I would implore everyone to pick it up. ASAP.
I have literally no complaints about this book. None. It is wonderfully progressive for its time period (Idk about you guys, but most of my 90s YA experience has been problematic AF), it has a beautiful plot that offers up the reminder that you have no idea what a person has been through, or what fine hells they have walked. It’s a story of friendship, family, healing, grief, abuse, and most of all, love – in all of its various forms.
It’s bad enough that Ginny’s big brother has moved halfway across the country, but now she has to move, too – and start a new high school in her senior year? Yikes. All isn’t lost, though, when she befriends her next-door neighbor, and by proxy, the boy from the next house over: Smitty, or as their less tactful classmates call him, “The Alien”. Smitty hasn’t spoken since he was two years old, and refuses to interact socially with anyone. Despite the barriers between them, Ginny and Caulder are determined to crack Smitty’s shell, but when they start digging, they find that the truth is much more horrifying and traumatic than anyone realized.
Ginny is just a really authentic, honest, flawed MC and I love that about her. She’s never so flawed as to be outright unlikable or annoying, but she’s honest about the fact that she’s a bit of a coward – she’s afraid of things and people she doesn’t understand (like Smitty). When push comes to shove, though, she’s fierce and protective and just feels like a real person.
Caulder becomes Ginny’s best friend, and their friendship is really the star of most of this book’s “show”. I love the fact that Kristen was willing to write a genuinely best-friendship between two opposite-sex hetero teens… that is completely platonic and adorable and perfect and loving. This book has friendship goals FO LYF.
Last but obviously not least, I have to talk about Smitty. It’s no spoiler that he has some sort of character development outside of just being “The Alien”; otherwise, we’d have no plot. He’s such a pure and perfect adorable little soul and I just wanted to squeeze him all the time because he deserves everything good. Smitty is the definition of a little cinnamon roll baby. ❤
I recommend this book to literally everyone, whether you’re a YA reader or not, whether you’re a contemporary reader or not, whether the plot attracts you or not… It’s just golden.
[…] Elise @ The Bookish Actress Lacy @a ravenclaw library Lauren @ My Paper Infinity Destiny @Howling Libraries […]
How have I never even heard of this book? It sounds fantastic. Adding to my TBR now so thanks for putting it on my radar 🙂
Oh man, you just made my day! It’s seriously so underrated it makes my heart hurt. I want EVERYONE to read this book haha! I hope you enjoy it! I would LOVE to hear your thoughts when you get the chance to read it. 🙂
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This sounds so amazing!! I need it ASAP!!
You definitely do! It is an AMAZING book.
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Oh my word – I actually read this book way back in the day but completely forgot about it until now! I kept thinking, “Wait, this sounds really familiar…” as I was reading your review, and when I looked up the synopsis on Goodreads it all came back to me!
I confess The Only Alien on the Planet didn’t resonate with me quite as much as it did with you, but I read it when I was pretty young and suspect I might get more out of it now if I read it again. Great review!
I’m just so happy to finally meet someone else who remembers reading it! I’m a little sad that it didn’t resonate with you quite as much, but I love that you said you suspect you’d get more out of it as an adult. I personally think I do get more out of it now than I did when I first read it, just because of how heavy the content is. Thank you so much, Angela! <3
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I remember writing it, actually. I started it a couple of times before Ginny took over – then it just sailed. My son just sent me your review, and it made my day. And how odd that the editor of the book, Tonya Martin, had just found me on Facebook and connected. Some kinda nexus at work here. Thank you for the things you said – they are actually the things I hoped might be said when it all came about. Much fun, that I’m still alive –
Wow! This just stunned me. Thank you so much for commenting! If anyone had told teenage me that the writer of one of my favorite books of all time would see my review someday, I’d never have believed it. I’m grinning ear to ear while typing this response. Thank you so much!