Friday, July 28, 2017

Blog Tour: Of Jenny and the Aliens by Ryan Gebhart...Review & Giveaway!

Today's book is a fun one so keep reading to learn more and to see what I thought about it...

Of Jenny and the Aliens

by Ryan Gebhart
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Sci-Fi
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When boy meets girl meets alien, the angst of first love gets an extraterrestrial intervention in a tale both outrageously funny and full of heart.

Ten years after Earth sent messages out into deep space, there has been an answer. Music from a distant planet has reached the world’s radios. Are aliens about to invade? No one knows, and almost-eighteen-year-old Derek doesn’t really care, because at a wild end-of-the-world party, Jennifer Novak invited him to play beer pong, and things, well, progressed from there. Derek is in love. Deeply, hopelessly in love. He wants it all — marriage, kids, growing old on a beach in Costa Rica. For him, Jenny is the One. But Jenny has other plans, which may or may not include Derek. So Derek will try anything to win her — even soliciting advice from an alien who shows up in his hometown. This alien may just be the answer to Derek’s problem, but is Derek prepared to risk starting an interstellar war to get his girl? Just how far is he willing to travel to discover the mysteries of the universe — and the enigma of love?

Ryan Gebhart is the author of the middle-grade novel There Will Be Bears, about which Publishers Weekly said in a starred review, “Fully developed characters, complex and realistic relationships . . . and a spot-on narrative voice . . . make this story stand out. About Of Jenny and the Aliens, the author says, “This book is about first love and discovering that we're not alone in the universe, and how maybe those two things aren't that different from each other.” Ryan Gebhart lives in Ohio.

His debut young adult Of Jenny and the Aliens, about first love and discovering that we're not alone in the universe, will be released Spring 2017 with Candlewick Press.

Title: Of Jenny and the Aliens
Author: Ryan Gebhart
Format: Digital ARC
Source: Netgalley

What would you do if aliens made contact with Earth and no one knew what it meant or what would happen next?  Well, for Derek and his friends and classmates, the answer is to throw a epic party.  At this epic party Derek encounters Jenny, his longtime crush and things definitely seem to go well for him.  But it's a different encounter on his way home from Jenny’s that changes Derek’s life in ways he wasn't expecting.  And as new and definitely unusual relationships develop, Derek learns more about life (both human and extraterrestrial) and finds himself affected by both new and old acquaintances.

Of Jenny and the Aliens gets off to a humorous and unexpected start and the fun continues throughout this complex story.  However, Ryan Gebhart has written a book that not only has a lot of humor, but also has plenty of heart and emotion. It was definitely a nice balance and I felt for all of the characters in the story as we learned a little more about each of them.  I laughed, I frowned, smiled, I may have even shed a tear or two or twenty, I felt all sorts of things reading this story and that's a good thing for me.  There are some heavy topics dealt with in the story including death, war, teenage drinking, difficult relationships, depression, and more. Everything from the characters and their individual stories to how that affected Derek, our main character was really well done.

Speaking of Derek, I’ve never been inside a teenage boy’s head so I can only imagine, but I really enjoyed getting his point of view.  There is such a realness to him that makes it easy to imagine or see Derek as just an average teenage guy. He was such an optimistic, fun and relatable character with a bit of a geeky side and an excellent sense of humor (yeah, I'm a bit of a geek, too).  He has his ups and downs just like any other teen and some of his downs are pretty deep.  I felt his confusion, doubt, fear, excitement, disappointment, awe, sadness, and more.  He has a tough background story that has affected him, even if he can't see it at first, and his relationships with others grow and change throughout the story. 

I really liked Derek and wanted to give him a big hug many times as I read (even though most of the time he said he smelled awful...I've been around teen boys, so I can imagine). I loved his interactions with his family, guy friends, Jenny, as well as Karo and the aliens.  Plus, seeing his reactions to all he experiences was definitely interesting and fun.  One minute he’s chilling with his boys or Jenny, the next he’s shooting the breeze with an alien.  No biggie.  I couldn't help but wonder how I or any of the other characters would react to Karo, though.  I’m sure we wouldn't be quite like Derek.  But I really liked how nonchalant Derek was about it all…of course, he lives in a world that's been thinking about and preparing for it plus he's a pretty easygoing guy.

I do have to say that while I loved Derek, Jenny, however, had some major drama and issues going on in her life that really affected both her and her relationship with Derek. She sent off way too many mixed signals and made some choices that made it hard for me to like her at first....well, you'll see if you read the book. Much of the book is devoted to him working through his feelings and relationship with Jenny which deeply affects Derek and his actions. I was curious to see how the author would handle it. It definitely felt like a true-to-life situation...well, except for the whole alien thing.

However, one of the things that first attracted me to this story was the whole alien thing, which is such a fresh and fun idea and I really enjoyed it.  I wish there had been more of it throughout the book and I definitely would have loved more of Karo and his unique world.  I loved their view of the universe. The second half of the book is where things really pick up with the aliens and I couldn't wait to see what would happen. And it was fascinating!  I don't want to say too much and spoil things for anyone.

I wouldn't mind reading more books like this and would definitely love to read more books by Ryan Gebhart!  

*I received a free digital arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.*
  • Win 1 of 3 copies of OF JENNY AND THE ALIENS by Ryan Gebhart
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