Published by Delacorte Press on 13.09.2022
Genres: Middle Grade, Mystery, Science Fiction
When Sky Patel-Baum is sent to live with her mysterious uncle, she didn't imagine she'd end up here: Area 51. A top-secret military base with a bajillion rules and so classified not even the president knows its secrets.
Also, it turns out the place is full of aliens. Lots and lots of aliens. But they prefer to be called Break Throughs, thank you very much.
As Sky sets out to explore her extraordinary new home with her pizza-obsessed pet hedgehog Spike, she meets her otherworldly next-door neighbor Elvis and his fluffy pup, Pickles. But something mysterious is afoot in Area 51. Some of the Break Throughs have gone missing... at the exact same time Sky arrived.
Where could they be? How can Sky and her uncle convince everyone they had nothing to do with the disappearance? And why does the macaroni and cheese at Area 51 Middle have eyeballs in it? New best friends Sky, Elvis, Spike, and Pickles try to crack the case, but the clock is ticking...
I’m still not back completely but here is another review for the TBRandBeyond Tours! I quite liked the book and it seems like a lot of the others taking part in the tour did too!
Julie Buxbaum is the New York Times best selling author of Tell Me Three Things, her young adult debut, What to Say Next and most recently, Hope and Other Punchlines. She’s also the author of two critically acclaimed novels for adults: The Opposite of Love and After You. Her work has been translated into twenty-five languages. Julie’s writing has appeared in various publications, including The New York Times. She is a former lawyer and graduate of Harvard Law School and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two children, and more books than is reasonable.
Right from the start I can say, that this book is definitely more for the younger end of the Middlegrade spectrum. The book is a mixture of written story and artworks, mostly comic style. I really liked the art. Kudos to Lavanya Naidu for the lovely artworks.
The story is told in the first person from our main character Sky Patel-Baum. Sky has lived with her grandma until now when her granny has to go live in an retirement home. Now she is plucked out of that environment and it’s decided that she has to go and live with her uncle Anish, who is a high-ranking military personel at Area 51.
I don’t know what I expected of Area 51. Surely not that the alien – sorry, Break Throughs – were just living there out in the open like normal people. I think I just kinda expected more, I don’t know, experiments? More secrecy? Underground bunkers, maybe? Then again, maybe that’s all just what comes from loving to watch Independence Day, a movie a young kid who would read this book probably wouldn’t watch.
Anyway, I found all the aliens intriguing and the pictures show a lot of diverse designs that made me grin and laugh. (Some of the names for the Break Throughs were a bit on the nose. Then again, I guess younger readers will appreciate that, since it’s easy to remember.
Sky is a bundle of energy. She’s loud and brash but still has some deep-seated insecurities which gave her more depth. This is true for all the main characters. Everybody had a backstory, something they had to struggle with. Unfortunatly, that couldn’t be said for most of the side characters which made them seem a bit two dimentional in my opinion.
I did like Elvis and Spike and Pickles though. Spike and Pickles are just the most adorable and funny sidekicks and Elvis was a great sidecharacter. I liked the background about why he looked how he looked – his appearance changes depending on the viewer’s emotional projections. I thought that idea was kinda cool.
However, the whole book is not just about aliens and Sky’s new life. There is also a mystery. Break Throughs have begun to disappear and Sky’s uncle Anish is blamed, so Sky and her friends have to go and find the aliens and prove his innocence.
What I didn’t like about this book was that at some point the fart jokes just seemed to take over. I get that it’s humor that young viewers can relate to and that that is funny, especially for young boys. It’s the universal potty humor that can reach all the young readers and won’t disappoint but for me, it just seemed to get too crass and too much at some point. It was just the “okay, we get it but it’s not really funny anymore” kind of thing. It annoyed me with time and I thought that even young readers would probably get bored after some time.
It was a lovely book. I quite enjoyed myself reading and marvelling at the art and I liked the mixture of science fiction with the mystery that Sky and her friends have to solve. While I felt the book’s humor declined with time, I’m sure that young readers will enjoy the book very much.
Well, this is it! What do you think?
Do you believe in aliens? What do you think they look like?
Would you like to live at Area 51, even if it means you have to give up on internet and “outside” stuff?
I got stuck on the humor, too. But at the same time, I realize that this sort of potty humor is HUGE for this age group, so it’s hard to be mad about it. I definitely wasn’t obsessed with potty humor at that age, either, so it seems weird to me, but hey, if it works and gets kids reading, I’m not gonna complain about it. xD
I so agree about Spike and Pickles, though! Too cute!
Yeah, I felt there were parts where you got nothing but the potty humor. It was a bit annoying. But I get it, kids find that funny. (I didn’t when I was a kid but then again, I was changing diapers of my siblings, so I probably just didn’t get it.)