on January 3, 2012
To be honest I loved this book so much that it has taken me months to write my review. I wanted to let the book settle and give it a second reading before writing this review. I was concerned that my enthusiasm was so great I would not be objective in my review or just blather on about how great the novel is. I also read it almost 6 months before it came out. I have now waited, gone back and read it again, and still love it. I love everything that Cecil Castelluci has published but there is something more, something deeper in this book.
Cecil Castellucci does an amazing job of capturing a male voice. Our narrator is Mal, a guy in high school who went missing for three days when he was younger. He discovers an alien abductees' support group and starts to put pieces of his life together. Mal is an amazing character. I was surprised by his struggles and seeking for self-understanding, while on the journey to understand the world around him. The story captures much of what it means to be on the fringe in high school or life, to be different, to be other and in such a way that that is not a bad thing, if you are being true to yourself.
This book was written by an author I discovered only last year. I have since read all her novels. With each book of hers that I read or reread, I am challenged into looking at who I am and who I want to be. This book did that to an even greater extent. This is an amazing read as a story, and if you let it challenge you, it can also be a tool for so much more. Well done yet again Miss Cecil!
on October 16, 2015
I really enjoy Cecil Castellucci's work. This was the second book of hers I've read, and I found it to be thought-provoking and insightful. I love the sci-fi twist of the story––it didn't feel too "out there" for me not to relate to any of the characters. On the contrary, I felt that all of her characters are relatable and interesting. Her writing style is easy and interesting. I would have given the book five stars except that the book was a little too simple for my taste (somewhat predictable). It goes with the genre of the book, though, so if you are interested in more of a YA book, this one is certainly one I'd recommend.
on December 16, 2011
Sometimes I wonder if I read the book description wrong, because I start reading a book and my jaw just drops because my prediction for the book was totally, completely off.
Honestly, I wasn't expecting much from First Day on Earth. Part of that was because of its (short) length and the cover totally doesn't do this book justice. Not at all.
Reasons to Read:
To me, this really sums up what First Day on Earth is TRULY about; because it isn't about aliens so much as it is about one incredibly hurting teenage boy who just doesn't feel like he fits in. There are some awful experiences which are slowly uncovered, which provide us with a better idea of where Mal is coming from and why he feels the way he does. And ultimately, why he makes the big decision he makes in the end. See his transformation and his bravery to make that decision is what ultimately made such an impact.
I wasn't expecting this to be the case in such a short book, but Cecil nails this. For such a quick read, I was impressed with how realistic and complex Mal, Posey, and Darwyn were. None of them were who I was expecting as a reader, or even who they were expecting as friends. And I have to say that they are admirable for the way they portray the teenage transitions and problems.
Considering this is book that is presented as being about aliens and abduction, I have to say that there is a lot more to it. Yes, it is about aliens to an extent. But I really appreciated the way that Cecil brought up these issues and emotional turmoil and dealt with them. Because they are things that everyone goes through at one point, and I think this makes it a book very easy to relate to.
I still feel like I'm reeling from this one; I'm not sure exactly how to express the way it touched me, and even though I didn't like every choice Mal made, it was fascinating to watch it all unfold. I was hooked to the story all the way through, and didn't put it down until I was finished. This is a fabulous stand alone YA book, that draws heavily on aspects often found in contemporary and realistic YA.
Review copy received from Scholastic Canada in exchange for my honest review; no other compensation was received.
on November 6, 2011
I'd been expecting this novel to board line YA and middle grade and what I found inside was very different than what I thought. Mal's voice knocked me off of my feet with how fully realized it was and how so very not-young he seemed. First Day on Earth reminded me a lot of Lisa McMann's Dream Catchers series with the main character's life and circumstances. It's definitely an interesting debut that is uniquely it's own.
Mal's life mirrored Janie's life (from Dream Catchers) so much closer than I was expecting. Even the lyrical, short writing style that McMann does so well was effortlessly and effectively utilized. It's hard for me not to make this entire review a big comparsion to that series because of all the parallels. But rather than the similarities being a bad thing, they were done so well that it just served to remind me of all the good parts of McMann's series and apply them to this story.
I liked that Mal was that kid everyone knew and thought was a badass but really he was just a bleeding heart. He often comments on the way people act because he is so removed from his classmates. Yet, he is still trying to reach out in his own way, even if he doesn't understand how or who to trust. His soft hard was explained by his alcoholic mother and being left by his father. As he slowly started to open up the festering wounds, it became clear where his problems came from and how he was using aliens and out space to fill their void.
Do I understand what exactly happened in the novel from beginning to end? Not exactly. It's one of those stories that tells you things and you, as a reader, have to decide whether you want to believe them or not. As for me, I want to believe what Mal believes because I think he needs them. It makes the ending all the more sweeter. I do wish that it was a bit clearer but I don't know if the story could have maintained it's innocence if it was.
The writing was quick, easy. Sometimes a chapter was 8 pages and other times an entire chapter was one sentence. Just a passing thought or something that Mal's holds onto. The sentences are even broken up a little. But that worked so well to describe Mal and fit his personality. He was broken up on the inside though he was going to all the right places to try and help himself. It was exactly the right type of prose. It isn't very often that you get the right kind of style to fit a character so completely. I can name on one hand these titles. First day on Earth is definitely going on that list.
First Day on Earth isn't a pulse-pounding read. It will not sparkle for you and there are no frills. It doesn't need them. It shoves the reader into Mal's life for a short time and allows the reader to choose whether or not Mal changes. With beautiful prose to match the broken (but lovable) character inside, First Day on Earth I definitely an alien in it's genre. But it's otherness is what makes it out of this world.
on March 11, 2013
I picked this book up on a whim because I've been looking to get into more science fiction lately and this only had a vague hint of it. And what might that hint be? Aliens. Yes, who can resist that? Not me, of course. I wanted to see how the little green guys-or Mal's gray people-fit into the tale. It was a quick but surprisingly insightful read.
Mal is an interesting character. His dad left the family, his mother is an alcoholic, he has no friends, he was abducted by aliens. Basically, if anyone had an excuse for feeling sorry for themselves, it'd be him. But he managed to capture my attention not through any sob story but through his dry humor, outlook on life and observations of high school in general, and perception of the Earth's importance in the wide expanse of space. Yeah, for a kid with so many issues, he manages to be pretty deep.
Then he meets Hooper, and everything gets both funnier and worse as time goes on. Mal has to deal with himself, wondering if he's going crazy, remember how to interact with humans, discover his own wants and needs and dreams. It's wonderful.
I loved how the outcasts were portrayed in this book. How Mal had two `friends' because they were all the odd ones out, so they banded together so they would never be the only one sitting alone. Perfection, because that's exactly how things in high school work. Strength in numbers and all that. Especially when he notes that they're not really friends but hang out anyway. And how even the popular kids had their dissenters. And the boy who will like or say anything just to fit in for a few brief moments. I think everyone knows someone like that guy.
What I'm trying to say is, although this book is short, it still packs a punch and leaves you thinking. It's definitely worth the read and I definitely recommend that you pick it up!
on August 7, 2015
I picked this quick little read up at the library in my work the other day. I enjoyed the story and found Hooper's character to be my favorite. I think Cecil did a great job of capturing the teenage angst of the outsider. I especially enjoyed towards the end when Mal discovered that his perceptions of others is a little off and that no one, not even Posey is perfect.
on November 27, 2012
What makes this book so great is that it is in first person, putting you in the main character's head. It also cuts out the useless details you find in most books that makes them drag on for 400+ pages, leaving just the vital information in a neat, even 150 pages. I work with teens and this book is appropriate for high schoolers. There are no sexually inappropriate scenes, but there is cursing throughout the book. Even though it is classified as a science fiction book, there are many family issues with the characters that almost makes the book double as a lifetime movie. For example, Mal, the main character, meets his dad again and when his dad does not recognize him, he decided not to think about him anymore. Also, his two friends talk about one's mother dying and the other being scarred from an accident when she was younger. Spoiler alert:
Mal is a 16 year old who lives with his alcoholic mother. He wishes he could make his mom better, but wants to run away from her at the same time. Throughout the book, Mal talks about his dad leaving them four years earlier with a lot of anger and hurt. He goes to a support group for it and accidently ends up sitting in a group for people who claim they have been abducted. Mal then admits when he was 12, right after his dad left, he went missing for three days and was found in the desert miles away. Doctors believe he had a seizure and wandered off, but he did not want to tell them he thought he was abducted by aliens because he did not want to be labeled as crazy. In the group, he meets a man who claims that he is an alien who had been sent to Earth to observe humans, but he decides that humans are not important enough to be studied further, so he is going home. Mal and his two friends take the man to the desert where he offers to take Mal back with him and shows Mal his true alien form. Mal decides to stay because he now has a different outlook on life after seeing the true alien form, making it his "First Day on Earth."
on April 25, 2012
INTEREST IN THE BOOK: It sounded interesting so I requested it from Scholastic.
WORLD-BUILDING: The world-building is not extreme, as it is set in a typical present-day American city. The real world-building is what occurs inside Mal himself. The alien piece is the driving force of the story, but it is in the background throughout.
CHARACTERS: Mal's a teen boy who is pretty reflective of his environment and irritated through most of this 150-page story, but never comes off as a jerk, in my opinion. My social worker side came out and I felt for him, big time. His mother is not able to cope with the reality that her bastard ex-husband is no longer in the picture, so she spends most of her waking hours drunk. We see a softer side of Mal as he ensures she is safe and fed.
Mal feels completely out of place in his community, yearning for acceptance and being able to relate to others but realizing he will never achieve that feeling. He appears years older than he is, as his environment and depression have led him to become jaded and desensitized to life. Due to being abducted, of which the reader is never really quite sure of through most of the story, he does not feel any connection to people in his community. He remains at a distance, feeling disconnected and uncomfortable on Earth.
LASTING IMPRESSIONS: I really enjoyed the author's writing style and layout of the chapters. I thought the disjointedness worked well in a story about a boy he also feels disconnected. All in all, it was a quick read and while I'm not interested in stories about abduction, this book is more about an adolescent boy yearning for acceptance and meaning in life.
Experiments. It seems unbelievable to me that school teaches us to be the experimenters. The observers. The prodders. The measurers. The destroyers.
We are never taught what it would be like if the tables were turned.
We are never taught what it would be like if we were the rat in the maze.
Or the frog on the dissecting table.
Or the atom being split.
We don't like to think about that.
We like to think that we are being civilized.
on January 15, 2012
This is my second read by Cecil Castellucci and most definitely not my last. When this book showed up on my doorstep, I was intrigued, but I put off reading it for a few months because I had no idea what to expect. Was this going to be a hardcore fantasy novel, or something more? Once I picked this up, I couldn't put it down and found myself surprised in so many ways by this unassuming read. First Day on Earth can be finished in an incredibly short amount of time and while I wish it was a tad longer to allow for more character development, I did end up enjoying First Day on Earth and it left me thinking, thinking, thinking.
Mal is a unique character that is dealing with a lot. His pain and emotions are clear right away and the short chapters allowed him to develop quite well. Mal has a lot of ideas about life not only on Earth, but on other planets. For some reason I was thinking this was a middle grade book, but it was far from it. Mal was an intense character, dealing with so many internal struggles. His character is so different from anyone I've ever read about. I felt for him because everyone thought he was this mean kid filled with hate and darkness, but Mal respects life and his love for animals is a great side story.
The book mainly focuses on Mal and his "journey" over the course of the book, but there are some important secondary characters. Hooper, Darwyn, and Posey, in particular. Mal meets Hooper at a group session and is torn between believing Hooper really is an alien and wondering if Hooper is just dealing with a mental illness. Mal himself believes there is life on other planets and that he was even abducted a few years back. All of this makes for an intriguing and thoughtful read.
First Day on Earth is by no means my "usual" read, but I'm so glad I decided to pick it up. The last book of Cecil's I read was Rose Sees Red and I enjoyed this just as much. Cecil Castellucci doesn't shy from tackling unique subject matter and her writing style in First Day on Earth was perfect for this book. Although I wish it could have been a bit longer, the ending was satisfying and I found myself thinking of this book even after I'd turned the last page. I definitely recommend giving this book a shot and wish it was getting more attention!
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
on April 3, 2012
When I picked up this book I had no idea what to expect. It was a small book, less than 200 pages and I wasn't sure that anything would really happen. I'm still not sure exactly how I felt about it, whether I loved it or if I found it okay.
I'm leaning more towards okay. Mal, the main character, was very... deep. I didn't know what word to use to describe him, so that's the only one I can think of. He had been captured by aliens when he was younger and returned to earth a short time later. Ever since then, Mal had not been the same. Of course, it didn't help that his family was all broken and he was the only one that was trying to hold the pieces together.
I loved Mal's personality, while he thought of really far out things that one doesn't normally think of, he was a great person. He took injured and homeless animals to an animal clinic, he helped others (like Hooper), and he saw everyone the same way. He didn't judge anyone based on their actions or appearance, which seemed like a great quality for a teenage boy to have.
Though I don't want to give away the ending, I'm glad that Mal stayed where he was. I had no doubt while reading this that he would be able to move past the bad things in his life and live a great life and maybe marry Posey someday in the future.
I would really recommend this book if you're looking for a book that's thought provoking, despite the fact that it is about aliens. Seeing everything through Mal's eyes was interesting, he had a very unique perspective of the world and I greatly appreciated his insights.