Fourteen-year-old David Gershwin, who’s waiting for another growth spurt, is used to troubled teens staying at his famous therapist dad’s home in Normandy, France, but one in particular captures his attention: Zelda, a girl of Amazonian stature who claims to be from the planet Vahalal (where men are forbidden) and who’s looking for her “chosen one.” By Zook, this potential mate just happens to be Johnny Depp.
David’s over-the-top humorous narration drives this slim, fast-paced debut, which is reminiscent of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe. When he discovers that Zelda has secretly followed him to Paris, where his chain-smoking, designer-clothes–devotee mother lives, he vows to serve Zelda as her “Pudin” (comically confused as “pudding”) and enlists the help of his older quasi-stepsister Malou, whose playful banter often borders on flirtation. As they outrun police on the rooftops of Paris and spar with exile Valks on their zany pursuit, David experiences “gustative biochemistry” (a.k.a. his first kiss)—and more. Surrounded by so many tough females, he can’t help but finally muster some self-confidence, while no-nonsense, kickass Zelda, who claims that love is a sin on her planet, may be giving in to their “Earthling display of affection (EDA)” and re-evaluating her real chosen one.
With the end always in sight, readers know from the get-go that this cosmic romance will be one wild ride. (Science fiction. 13 & up)