Stuck on Earth

Stuck on Earth

4.2 13
by David Klass

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Ketchvar III's mission is simple: travel to Planet Earth, inhabit the body of an average teenager, and determine if the human race should be annihilated. And so Ketchvar—who, to human eyes, looks just like a common snail—crawls into the brain of one Tom Filber and attempts to do his analysis. At first glance, Tom appears to be the perfect

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Ketchvar III's mission is simple: travel to Planet Earth, inhabit the body of an average teenager, and determine if the human race should be annihilated. And so Ketchvar—who, to human eyes, looks just like a common snail—crawls into the brain of one Tom Filber and attempts to do his analysis. At first glance, Tom appears to be the perfect specimen—fourteen years old, good health, above average intelligence. But it soon becomes apparent that Tom Filber may be a little too average—gawky, awkward, and utterly abhorred by his peers. An alien within an alien's skin, Ketchvar quickly finds himself wrapped up in the daily drama of teenage life—infuriating family members, raging bullies, and undeniably beautiful next-door neighbors. And the more entangled Ketchvar becomes, the harder it is to answer the question he was sent to Earth to resolve: Should the Sandovinians release the Gagnerian Death Ray and erase the human species for good? Or is it possible that Homo sapiens really are worth saving?

Wickedly wry and hysterically skewed, David Klass's take on teen life on our fabulously flawed Planet Earth is an engrossing look at true friends, truer enemies, and awkward alien first kisses.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
Kirkus Reviews
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)
School Library Journal
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

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Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
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File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
11 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

We are skimming over the New Jersey countryside in full search mode, hunting a fourteen-year-old. Our shields are up, and no humans can possibly spot us, even with the aid of their primitive “radar” and “sonar” technologies.
Earth’s lone moon is in the sky above us. This is indeed a pretty planet. I can see why the Lugonians, whose sun is about to supernova, covet it. Beneath us are dwelling places known as “houses” separated by expanses of unused space termed “lawns” that convey status on property owners by showing how much land they can afford to waste.
A target subject has just been identified! The circumstances are favorable for an extraction—he is sitting alone eating a “snack”—an unnecessary meal that is known to be unhealthy and is consumed at odd hours. It falls under the category of addictive behavior that most Homo sapiens find impossible to resist.
Cellular spectroscopy is positive. This specimen is Caucasian, fourteen years old, and in good health. Weak areas appear to be the teeth, where a metallic correction device known as “braces” has been fastened, and the eyes, where ocular aids called “glasses” have been appended with the help of two plastic rods hooked around the ears.
Brain scans show an above average human intelligence quotient, with particularly high cognitive and imaginative ability. A probe of long-term memory reveals that the specimen is named Tom Filber, he lives with his parents in a small house on Beech Avenue, and he has a sister named Sally with whom he is in a constant state of conflict that sometimes escalates into violence.
All systems are go! The Preceptor Supervisor has just approved the extraction. I, Ketchvar III, prepare myself to inhabit the body and mind of an infinitely lower life-form. I remind myself that my mission is vitally necessary—we must decide soon if the human species should be preserved or wiped out. We drop low in our ship till we are hovering above the chimney of 330 Beech Avenue.
We have just established direct visual surveillance of the specimen. He is sitting on his front porch, devouring large flakes of dehydrated potato, drained of all nutritional value and flavored with artificial taste stimulants. Every now and then he apparently finds a flake not to his liking, spits it to the floor, and crushes it under the heel of his boot.
Our Mission Engineer readies the paralysis ray. We all turn toward our Preceptor Supervisor, who gives the go-ahead.
The ray is turned on. Specimen Filber freezes in midchew. Sensors show a wild spike in his adrenaline and a rapid acceleration of his heartbeat—he knows something is happening to him, but he cannot make a sound or move a muscle.
Antigravity suction commences immediately. He is lifted off the porch and drawn into the cargo bay of our spaceship. The specimen still cannot move or speak, but he stares back at us through his ocular aids with big, brown, frightened human eyes.
Excerpted from Stuck On Earth by .
Copyright © 2010 by David Klass.
Published in 2010 by Frances Foster Books.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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