Let's talk about colonialism.
Sounds a little dry, a little scary, a little unpleasant? Yeah. And maybe that's why you haven't heard of Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences by Brian Yansky (Candlewick) yet, because a review would have to mention the complete alien takeover of Earth, and the humans don't win.
Aliens show up and, as Jesse understands as one of the few humans able to communicate on the aliens' level, they conquered the world in ten seconds. Easy peasy. The aliens put those humans who survive the quick and painless invasion to work, pleased to have some "product" that will help make the planet ready for its colonization. The problem is, the people are showing some signs that they might not be as primitive, not as easy to enslave as the aliens thought they'd be.
Yansky injects humor into the story, and brings both the plight of the humans and the creeping fear that drives the colonizers to life. While the message is clear--great wrongs are done when we consider others to be lesser than--it's not a one-sided story, and we get an interesting look at at both sides of the situation.
My closest read-alike might be something of Sherman Alexie's, and while I can't think what that is in particular, I was reminded of Alexie's combination of humor and head-on engagement with what's wrong with how people--and here, aliens--have treated one another.
I read this book as a first-round judge for the Cybils Awards, which means that I may have received a review copy from the publisher (or not; I own a lot of the books in this category). I read some books nominated for the YA fantasy and science fiction category in 2010 before the nomination period, and may have already reviewed them or declined to make a public review; these books might not have a Cybils post tag. As a first-round judge, I was tasked with helping create a shortlist of books. My personal reviews do not reflect any actions or discussions of the judging committee.