Reviews for Stuck on Earth
Booklist Reviews 2009 December #2
Before being vaporized by a Gagnerian Death Ray, humans (aka "the laughingstock of the universe") get a last chance to prove their worth when superintelligent alien Ketchvar III arrives for an evaluation. The size of a snail, Ketchvar crawls into the nose and inhabits the brain of 14-year-old Tom, a bullied nerd living in suburban New Jersey. In theory, this gives Ketchvar the opportunity to operate covertly, though his stiff new speech patterns have everyone thinking Tom's acting even weirder than normal ("Let us live in harmony, like the moss and the lichen," he implores his bratty sister). Between the shocking violence of the "voluntary daily incarceration" known as school and examinations into the "empty constructs" of war and love, Ketchvar reports to his mothership via e-mails with subject headings like "Old Hip-Hop Songs That Sucked." Klass even manages to work in an effective environmental message. There are no major surprises--the sweet "earth girl next door" wins Earth another chance--but that doesn't hamper this fast-moving and irascible comedy. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.
BookPage Reviews 2010 April
An alien in junior high
Ketchvar III has a job to do, and it isn’t easy; he’s an alien from the faraway planet of Sandoval who has come to Planet Earth to evaluate its inhabitants for the Galactic Federation. This isn’t some purely anthropological expedition, either. The lives of Earth’s entire human population hang in the balance, as Ketchvar’s experience will determine whether they’re worth saving—or annihilating. The outlook isn’t good, since Earth’s dominant species don’t appear to be doing a very good job as caretakers of their planet
The inhabitants of Sandoval resemble another earth creature—specifically, a snail—and the Federation’s superior technology has enabled Ketchvar to take over the body of a randomly selected human to conduct his analysis. That random selection happens to be one Tom Filber, a 14-year-old boy from an astonishingly dysfunctional family, the butt of jokes and the designated target of every bully at his junior high school.
At least that’s how Stuck on Earth, David Klass’ new novel for young readers, starts out. There are a lot of silly interactions between the befuddled Ketchvar, his hormone-infused host and the people he comes in contact with. They already think Tom is weird (his nickname is “Alien“), but they aren’t prepared when Ketchvar takes things to a new level. But then, Klass slyly takes the reader to a new level, turning this sci-fi romp on its ear by suggesting that what’s happening, however silly, is real—but not for reasons you’d expect.
Klass deftly weaves a story of growing up, environmentalism, the girl next door, human nature and all-powerful alien beings in a strikingly original way. Stuck on Earth manages to be hilarious, thoughtful and poignant, and there are plot twists you won’t anticipate; it’s got an ending that will leave you wondering, to boot. Don’t miss this entertaining novel.
James Neal Webb works with an alien species called “college students” at a university library. Copyright 2010 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
Ketchvar, a snail-like organism, is on a mission to find a suitable home for his people. Earth will do, but all humans have to be eliminated. To study the planet and determine the worthiness of its inhabitants, Ketchvar inhabits the brain of fourteen-year-old Tom Filber. Klass's novel, with its twists and turns and many changes of setting, hits the spot for plot-driven readers. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #2
Ketchvar, a snail-like organism, has spent most of his two thousand years in the comfortable ooze of his home planet, Sandavol IV. But Sandavol IV is dying, and he's now on a mission to find a suitable home for his people. Scientific data indicate that Earth will do, but in order for his species to colonize it, all humans would have to be eliminated. His mission: to study the planet and determine the worthiness of its inhabitants. Ketchvar will make his observations by inhabiting the brain of an Earthling; by random choice, he selects Tom Filber, a fourteen-year-old bullied boy with a miserable home- and social life. Ketchvar's speech ("Greetings, sister...I come in peace") is formal and his thinking humorously literal. When, for instance, he goes to find Tom's alcoholic father at the local bar, Ketchvar assumes Mr. Filber is "involved in a religious ritual" when told he is "paying his respects to the marble altar." Many of his observations, however, reflect uncomfortable truths, such as cliquish teen cruelty and the existence of toxic waste dumps. Klass's novel, with its twists and turns and many changes of setting, may lose those wishing for more character development but hit the spot for plot-driven readers. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2010 February #2
The Galactic Confederation is nothing if not fair. Before they commit to annihilating the human race, they'll send an emissary to ensure it is without redemption. Ketchvar III, a hyperintelligent snail from the planet Sandoval, is determined to find the worth of the human race by merging consciousness with the most typical specimen of humanity he can find. That specimen is Tom Filber, "Caucasian, fourteen years old, and in good health." But perhaps Ketchvar has chosen poorly: Tom's mother is a violent, shrewish woman, his father is an unemployed alcoholic and his classmates--though ignorant of Ketchvar--all refer to Tom as "Alien." Are humans truly vile, or has Ketchvar chosen a particularly dysfunctional family to analyze? Not surprisingly, Ketchvar's study of humanity becomes a life lesson for Ketchvar himself, as he tries to fix some of the problems in Tom's family and town. Despite hackneyed gender stereotypes and a cast of stock characters, the painful humor (or perhaps the humorous pain) of Ketchvar's adventure will win fans. (Science fiction. 10-12) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2010 March/April
When Tom Filber is sucked into the alien's spaceship his greatest fear is that he will be eaten. That, however, is not Ketchvar's mission. The goal is to see how earthlings live and to make the decision whether or not the human race should be annihilated. Once Ketchvar takes control of Tom's body the fun begins. The Filber family dynamics is just one of the many challenges. The book is both humorous and touching. Ketchvar truly becomes part of the human race; at one point he wonders if he is truly from another planet or just a confused earth boy. When he is finally able to contact his fellow aliens, Ketchvar realizes it is time to relinquish his control of Tom's body and return to his own planet. The book's tie-in to environmental concerns makes it very relevant. The self-deprecating humor will be something that many, especially middle school boys, can totally relate to. Try handing this to some of your reluctant readers who love to laugh. Recommended. Karen Scott, Media Specialist, hompson Middle School, Alabaster, Alabama ¬ 2010 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 February #1
When an alien snail named Ketchvar III takes over 14-year-old Tom Filber's body, he tends to agree with Galactic Confederation ethicists that "we owe it to weak and vulnerable Homo sapiens to euthanize the species" before humans destroy the environment and themselves. But even though he suffers high school at its worst, he is inspired by some people he meets--a lonely neighbor; his passionate environmental club adviser--and begins drawing another conclusion. Ketchvar's cerebral narration is the book's hallmark ("My new theory is that school serves the purpose of narrowing the horizons of young Homo sapiens and conditioning them to accept mediocrity"); it becomes increasingly moving as the question arises of whether Ketchvar is real or if this is a construct Tom uses to deal with his disintegrating home life and general unhappiness. The narrator's well-timed surveillance of a polluting paint factory is too convenient, but Klass's (the Caretaker Trilogy) thoughtful, often wrenching book offers plenty to think about, from what's really going on in Tom's head to questions about human responsibility to the planet and each other. It takes "alienation" to a whole new level. Ages 11-14. (Mar.) [Page 49]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2011 February
Gr 5-9--On a mission to evaluate Earth and determine whether or not its dominate species (Homo sapiens) will be allowed to continue or will be exterminated (quickly and painlessly, of course) so a more deserving race can have the planet, Ketchvar III, a snail-like superintelligent being inhabits the body of a 14-year-old boy so he can experience human existence up close and personal. Horrified by his host's dysfunctional family, incarceration in a mind-numbing environment (high school), and the bullying of other students, Ketchvar has nearly written off humans for good when he meets the girl next door. Humorous misunderstandings and poignant moments with his host's alcoholic father and bitter mother save this from being just another "people have ruined the planet; let's get rid of them and start over" book. Ketchvar's social gaffs and misconceptions provide some laugh-out-loud moments as do his internal dialogues with his reluctant host. Though no new ground is broken, Stuck on Earth will resonate with kids who feel like aliens in their own homes.--Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK [Page 112]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.