Title: First Contact | Author: Brent LeVasseur (site) | Publisher: Aoleon Press | Publication Date: 2015-1-31 | Pages: 98 | ASIN: B00QVB9Q7K |
Genre: Childrens & Science Fiction | Language: English | Rating: 4 out of 5| Triggers: None |Date Read: 2015-9-29 | Source: Received a Netgalley copy in exchange for an honest review.
Aoleon, The Martian Girl: First Contact
Gilbert, your average Nebraskan boy, has been having strange dreams ever since the crop circles first appeared in his neighbor’s field. Then, one night, he’s investigating a bright light in the sky, and ends up meeting Aoleon, a Martian girl who is just practicing to get her pilots license. One thing leads to another, and suddenly Gilbert is off on the adventure of a life-time.
Aoleon, The Martian Girl: First Contact Review
I initially chose to review this with the idea in mind that I would read it with my child. Unfortunately, she’s just not into aliens yet, so I treated this as I would a regular book that I’d been asked to review. Aoleon the Martian Girl: First Contact is a fast-paced adventure story targeted at readers aged 8-12. Gilbert, finds himself first on the run with Aoleon, the alien he met in a wheat field, then going on an adventure with her when she decides, for some reason, to take him to her home on Mars. It definitely provides Gilbert with experiences beyond his wildest imagination.
This was definitely a book that would challenge its middle-grade readers with (unless they’re big sci-fi fans) words that they probably haven’t heard before. This could be a good or a bad thing. On one hand, its easy to appreciate the challenge laid out in some of the bigger words, and I’m all for trying to expand kids’ vocabulary. However, ‘temporal field displacement’ , ‘isomorphic projection’, and ‘post-plasma beam manifestation’ are pretty heavy phrases for middle-grade kids (especially on the lower end).
I liked that it also referenced stuff that appealed to adults as well,such as the references to Back to the Future and Aliens. Also the famous (but changed) lines from Star Wars, Wizard of Oz, etc. The humor was definitely perfect for the age range (and most of it appealed to me, too, so I’m not sure what that says about me.) I outright giggled at one particular line “NORAD – uh – we have cows, sir!”
While it was a little slow to get started, once the action started it was practically non-stop, and peppered with humorous lines and/or scenes that would easily keep an older child focused on what they were reading. The violence that is mentioned is more along the lines of rockets being fired (and missing), and the most horrible thing that happens is person gets squished by a falling cow.
I did feel that the CGI illustrations added nothing to the story that traditional illustrations would not have taken care of. I disagreed with the representation of all adults as bumbling idiots, but kids would love it, so its not necessarily a critique, just a reviewers note.
AUTHOR notes: I spoke with Brent briefly on Twitter, and he informed me that the reason for the CGI instead of traditional illustrations was that this book series started as a way to teach himself 3D modeling, rendering, and animation. He kindly linked me to a youtube video of his process here. Apparently the initial concept was, in his head, a movie, so he also composed an orchestral soundtrack and pop song for it.