Imagine being forced to move to a new planet where YOU are the alien! From the creator of the Tapper Twins, New York Times bestselling author Geoff Rodkey delivers a topical, sci-fi middle-grade novel that proves friendship and laughter can transcend even a galaxy of differences.
The first time I heard about Planet Choom, we'd been on Mars for almost a year. But life on the Mars station was grim, and since Earth was no longer an option (we may have blown it up), it was time to find a new home.
That's how we ended up on Choom with the Zhuri. They're very smart. They also look like giant mosquitos. But that's not why it's so hard to live here. There's a lot that the Zhuri don't like: singing (just ask my sister, Ila), comedy (one joke got me sent to the principal's office), or any kind of emotion. The biggest problem, though? The Zhuri don't like us. And if humankind is going to survive, it's up to myfamily to change their minds. No pressure.--from the publisher
256 pages 978-1524773045 Ages 8-12
“President Trump on Tuesday said that the nuclear launch button on his desk is ‘much bigger’ and ‘more powerful’ than that of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un -- and that his button actually ‘works.’”
-- The Hill (1/2/2018)
“Show some emotion
Open your heart
Set free an ocean
Only a feeling can save us now”
-- Celine Dion (1992)
“Then Naya and I joined Ila, my parents, and 1,018 other people on the shuttle up to the transport that waited in low orbit to take us to Planet Choom. The living conditions on the transport were even worse than the Mars station--nobody had their own compartment, and we all had to sleep in our bio-suspension pods, which were in one giant room together.
Fortunately, we were only on the transport for two days before we all went into suspension and woke up the next morning--or twenty years later, depending on how you looked at it--in a solar system sixty trillion miles away, ready to start a new life on Choom.
But there was a problem. During the twenty years we were asleep, the aliens had changed their minds about us.”
The premise is pretty intense: Earth has been rendered uninhabitable by nuclear warfare. 2,400 humans (out of nine billion) managed to escape to a space station on Mars. But supplies quickly diminish, and the life-support systems begin failing. A portion of the Mars group decides to return to Earth, hoping against reality that they will survive. They don’t. Another portion of the survivors decides to head to unpopulated Novo in hopes they can sufficiently tweak that planet’s biosphere in order to live there. They can’t. The remaining 1,018 head for Choom, where four species coexist. The humans communicate primarily with the planet’s majority species, the Zhuri, who look like giant mosquitoes. The Zhuri invite them to come settle on Choom.
But the Zhurian political landscape changes over the twenty years that the humans are rocketing there in a bio-suspension state. When the earthlings arrive, revive, and are orbiting Choom, they learn that the current Zhuri leadership, which appears fundamentalist and authoritarian, has decided that the human species “is too violent and emotional” to live among them. They vow to vaporize the humans if they attempt to land.
When the humans communicate to the Zhuri representatives that they have no fuel or supplies to go elsewhere, that they will perish unless they are permitted to stay, the Zhuri government decides that they will “open the planet to one ‘human productive unit,’” in order to see whether it can work to let the humans immigrate. The test-case family will be our narrator, Lan, his sister the young phenom singer Ila, and their parents. The future of humanity hinges on their success.
Things don’t start out very well for the family. There is the equivalent of a violent protest upon the family’s arrival. They barely escape back into the shuttle in one piece. They are eventually provided protection and housing in a dwelling designed for the Ororo, a giant, pale blue, marshmallow-shaped species. Author Geoff Rodkey makes the most of the differences in shapes, sizes, and bodily functions between humans and their new planetary neighbors as the family has to adapt to accommodations that aren’t designed for our species. The Ororo toilets are a particularly humorous example of this. And the two Earth kids are permitted to attend school, albeit with armed guards to keep an eye on their behavior.
Lan and his sister are also assigned Zhuri classmates to shadow them. Lan’s classmate is not much fun. Fortunately, Lan is soon befriended by two “minority” students, an Ororo female and a Krik. (The Krik look like werewolves.)
Will the family succeed in their trial habitation on Choom and save the human race?
What happened to the fourth species, the Nug, who were there twenty years ago when the humans were invited to Choom, but who are now gone without a trace?
The Ororos are thousands of times more intelligent than humans. Might Lan’s female Ororo friend Marf devise an even better solution for saving humanity?
WE’RE NOT FROM HERE is an out-of-this-world, thought-provoking read with a good measure of humor. It provides support for the notion that our children will be our salvation.
Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS
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