Of Jenny and the Aliens by Ryan Gebhart

cover image

Candlewick Press, 2017. ISBN 9780763688455
(Age: Older teens) Themes: Aliens; Sexual Relationships; Teenage angst. The Aliens have got in contact with earth and the world wonders whether this is the end. For Derek though, an 'End of the World as we know it' party leads him to a sexual encounter with the liberated and feisty Jenny who then proceeds to spin his world into an orbit that is completely out of control. His encounter with the Alien is positively humble and calm in comparison - even when it transitions to the literal 'Out of this World' experience. Essentially this book transitions from an American teenage sex romp (with soft-porn detail), into the roller-coaster of a relationship that does not seem to follow a straight path, and then morphs into a strange encounter with aliens that in some way is meant to solve all the sexual and relationship angst that Derek is experiencing! There is almost a hallucinogenic strangeness to some parts of the book. The family break-up history that runs as an undercurrent to the flow of the story is one of the few conventional aspects of the story.
This is not a coming-of-age story or a science fiction story - it is just strange. This book did not win me over. If it was attempting to be humorous, it did not quite hit its mark. The friendship between Derek and Karo (the alien musician) was under-developed and should have been fleshed out with much more narrative intensity. Unfortunately it lacked the spark of literary quality.
Note: Drug taking, alcohol consumption, Sexual activity.
Carolyn Hull