Thursday, November 7, 2013

REVIEW: Santa Claus vs the Aliens

Santa Claus vs the Aliens
By James Cardona

Genre: Christmas, Young Adult

Perfect reading for: Middle school children and adults who are still a kid at heart and love Christmas (I think this would be a great chapter book to read with your children)

Year published: 2013
Date read: 10.30.13 to 11.2.13

Summary: A Christmas story for Middle School children with a science fiction twist.

When Edwin Cardona unwittingly cuts his finger, dripping a few drops of blood onto a bone-colored tracking device he becomes a target of a group of aliens that think he holds a secret to the human race's defeat.  The only person who seems to know what to do is a fat man wearing a Santa Claus suit and he somehow seems to know just a little too much.  Who is he and why does he know so much?  Where did the aliens come from and what are they after?  Can a fourteen year old wandering the cold, empty streets of Manhattan late on Christmas Eve and an odd character dressed as Santa Claus stop the aliens and save the planet?

My thoughts

I came across this book on Goodreads and thought it looked really interesting - I am a huge fan of science fiction and Christmas books, plus I have spent most of my adult life working with young children and especially love introducing them to new books.  I added it to my To Read list and, a couple of weeks later, was contacted by the author asking me if I would be interested in receiving a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.  Um ... YES!!  I have done a lot of read 2 reviews this year and really like helping these Indie and Self-published authors get the recognition they more than deserve.

When I finished the story, I just sat there.  I just felt - disappointed.  The ending felt really out of place and didn't make sense, with no explanation.  It was as if I began one book and finished another.  I felt the title of the book was misleading as well.  As you can imagine, my review was less than flattering, but I gave him 3 stars because he did do a really good job on most of the book -  I just felt that he really didn't put a lot of thought into how the ending would play out and come across.  

I loved the main character and his thoughts on not only his "new" family (his dad had remarried and they had a child together), but also on the children's home he was living at.  I liked the adventure and the whole idea behind the story.  Just didn't like the ending.  And isn't what we read a book or story for?

I did, at the end of my review, offer to give him my thoughts if he wanted to contact me.  (I have done this with a few authors and never heard anything, which is sad really - authors should listen to what their readers have to say.)

A few days later he contacted me and over the next few days we messaged back and forth about the changes that could be made to this book that would make it EVEN better.

A few hours ago, I received an email informing me of some changes that he is making throughout the story along with a .pdf attachment of the "proposed ending."  THIS is what I'm talking about.  I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed with what this story has become and I'm glad that James so easily took some constructive criticism.

This is the kind of book that I want to give to the kids I know as a holiday gift.  And the new ending - I had goosebumps, tears in my eyes and felt that excitement I used to feel when I came downstairs Christmas morning and saw that Santa had taken a bite out of the cookies I specially made for him, had drank all of his milk and had even given some of the carrots to the reindeers.

This book went from a 3 stars to at the very least a 4 1/2.  And a book I definitely recommend. :)

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