Monsters in the Attic: Aliens, Terrorists,
and One Voluble Raccoon
by Blaine C. Readler Full Arc Press

"The raccoon smiled. This only advanced the surreal sense of the situation, since raccoons aren't meant to smile. They aren't built for it. The effect was vaguely grotesque."

Gabe, a struggling musician and pet-sitter, fears he must be having a flashback from illicit drugs: The raccoon in his bedroom is warning him of terrorist plots and telling him that aliens want to help him save the world. And the raccoon sounds like Louis Armstrong. Though he valiantly tries to pay no heed to his furry roommate by auditioning singers for his band and falling in love with a previous one-night stand, when the raccoon appears even after the drugs have worn off, Gabe cannot ignore the scavenger's advice any longer.

While space aliens and their motives for invasion, retaliation, or communication are usually seen in the realm of science fiction, Readler takes these concepts and twists them until something bright, shiny, and weird is bestowed. The author has a firm hand with setting and language, helping the reader to believe that even with such fantastically odd notions, Gabe knows what he's doing: saving the world, getting the girl, and making a new friend despite vast cultural differences.

Themes of communication and trust are deftly explored by Readler. Gabe converses with the alien, Ronny (who named himself Ronald Reagan in order to inspire confidence), about the perception of lies being inherent to the survival of a species, no matter where the species originated. Readler also has a true talent in dialogue, displaying subtle undertones of hope and fear when Gabe is shown trying to convince a young woman to give him and his band another chance. Monsters in the Attic gives a nod to the surreal while examining the depths of friendship and trust in this sweetly funny novel.

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