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Journal of a UFO Investigator

2.81  ·  Rating Details ·  251 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
A sparkling debut novel set in the sixties about a boy's emotional and fantastical journey through alien worlds and family pain.

Against the backdrop of the troubled 1960s, this coming-of-age novel weaves together a compelling psychological drama and vivid outer-space fantasy. Danny Shapiro is an isolated teenager, living with a dying mother and a hostile father and wit
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 3rd 2011 by Viking (first published 2008)
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Feb 21, 2011 Sandi rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, 2011
When I won this book through FirstReads, I had no idea how it would be. From the blurb, it sounded kind of weird and depressing. Well, it is weird and depressing. It's also very well-done.

Danny Shapiro's mom is sick. She has a heart problem that was aggravated by Danny's birth. His dad yells at him for not going to bed and forces him in to the bathroom to lance his zits on a semi-regular basis. Danny's only two friends have grown away from him. So, he keeps a journal of his life as a UFO invest
Holla die Waldfee!

Dieses Buch habe ich einzig und allein wegen des herrlichen Covers aus dem Büchereiregal gezogen und mit nach Hause genommen - manchmal wird man dadurch mit kleinen Juwelen belohnt, die noch lange im Gedächtnis bleiben.

Auf dieses Buch muss man sich einlassen, das sage ich gleich. Es geht in dieser Geschichte um einen sechzehnjährigen Jungen, der, als großer Tagträumer, sein reales Leben mit Träumen und Phantasien vermischt, bis beides so eng miteinander verwoben ist, dass er ka
Simcha Lazarus
Feb 15, 2011 Simcha Lazarus rated it really liked it
Danny Shapiro is an awkward teenager boy with a sick mother, a disapproving father and few friends. But Danny’s troubles are set aside as he recounts his adventures as a UFO investigator, beginning with his first encounter with a UFO, in 1962. Realty and fiction blur in Danny’s vivid tale of a secret society, a stolen journal, an alien seductress and the three sinister “Men in Black” who are on Danny’s trail.

Journal of a UFO Investigator is a quirky but compelling coming-of-age story about a boy
Jul 20, 2012 Dale rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If this were baseball, Halperin would be swinging for the fence, but coming up short.

David Halperin's Journal of a UFO Investigator is a semi-autobiographical novel. It ties together UFOs, death, growing up, family dynamics and religion in general (and Judaism in particular) in the story of Daniel Shapiro, a schoolboy growing up in the 60s in far suburban Philadelphia. Halperin is a former professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill with a special focus on
Jan 24, 2012 Sooz rated it liked it
this is a messy story. as such it's hard to give a rating to and ratings will be alllll over the map. it is a messy story -disjointed and fragmented- filled with unlikely events and holes an 18 wheeler could drive through. it asks the reader to take a leap of faith. it's like the bible that way.

it blends the most mundane of teenage life with the most fantastic other-worldly adventures, and the author doesn't always have clear divisions between the two. like i said, it's messy and the line betwe
Wendy Hines
Jun 01, 2013 Wendy Hines rated it really liked it
First, I would like to say how much I like this cover. It really compliments the novel; I could imagine Danny doodling it one evening.

Journal of a UFO Investigator is Mr. Halperin's debut novel and it is an extraordinary story. Danny Shapiro is a teenager who has a terminally ill mother and a hostile father. Understandable because a) mom's terminally ill, and b) his son spends his time in his fantasy world of being a UFO investigator.

Danny and his bff just had a falling out because they liked th
Ted Morris
This book is weird, which I normally love, but I found it quite frustrating.

The narrative is not very straight forward, and all the UFO "stuff" is just written in the main characters journal. That conceit is set up early on, but I spent half the book wondering "is this really happening?" I also felt that the Biblical aspect was underdeveloped and seemed to belong to another book. I think expanding on that idea and having it marry the UFO "stuff" (sorry, it was bizarre! that's the only way I can
Jul 21, 2011 Dani rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway at the beginning of February and received it within a surprisingly short amount of time. This was another book that I approached without a full understanding of what I was getting myself into. You could say I didn't read the summary closely. Both the title and cover seem to imply some sort of quirky adventure about a kid who likes the idea of UFOs a little too much. However, as soon as I started reading, it quickly became clear that this novel was much mor ...more
Mel Windham
Jul 07, 2011 Mel Windham rated it it was amazing
David Halperin's "Journal of a UFO Investigator" is a fun journey into the fantasies of teenager Danny Shapiro. As the book progresses, there are two stories to follow. One story occurs in real life, where his Mom is dying and the Dad is distant. The other story occurs inside of Danny's journal, which merges his fantasies with what's really happening. We learn that the journal is one way for Danny to cope with his difficult teenager years.

The fantasies center around UFOs. Here, the author shows
Jun 07, 2016 Liz rated it liked it
Shelves: jewish-fiction
Danny, a Jewish teenager growing up during the sixties, is set apart from other kids at high school due to his nerdy fascination of UFOs. Things at home aren’t much better. His chronically ill mother is needy and close to expiring, and his father is bitter and quickly moved to anger over small disappointments. Using his imagination as a shelter from the oppression of his parent’s household, Danny decides to keep a journal chronicling his “adventures” among the aliens, which sometimes border on t ...more
Mar 12, 2012 Allen rated it liked it
This was a really trippy book. I like the premise: a coming of age story told through the lens of a fictitious-yet-not story. the line between what was real in the story and what was written was very blurred. This defined the book, and that is one of the parts I did not really like about this novel. First off, I am not a really fan of the sappy coming of age novel: self exploration as a theme in a more complicated book: sure, but this novel was too exploration-heavy for my taste. The plot was al ...more
Jun 30, 2011 Bill rated it liked it
Although I did like this book overall, it confused me at times. At the base it's a "self-discovery" or "coming of age" story about a young Jewish boy, from age 13 to 16, who is dealing with loneliness, inability to fit in, a dying mother, and a father who seems at times indifferent, and at other times actively hostile towards him. His way of coping is to imagine an incredibly complicated alternate story line for his life in which he and his friend Jeff are UFO investigators. The part that confus ...more
Carla Dash
In the back of this book, in the acknowledgements section, the author says one early reader told him of a draft of the book: "You've got two stories here, and they keep getting in each other's way." I think this is a very accurate observation, and I don't think it ever stopped being true in later revisions.

This novel contains a frame story, and a story within that frame. The anterior story is definitely the more interesting, and takes up the most space, to the point where (as I usually do when r
May 14, 2011 Sean rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, first-reads
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 05, 2011 Tim rated it liked it
The three star ranking for this is a bit misleading--Journal of a UFO Investigator was either one of the most brilliant books I've ever read or one of the worst, I can't quite make up my mind. I can say conclusively it was one of the most infuriating books I've read in awhile, the plot is disjointed and there is quite a bit left open to the interpretation of the reader. Did the more fantastical of Danny's experiences actually happen, or where they merely fever dreams of a lonely, teenage boy dea ...more
Jul 28, 2015 Nancynarcolepsy rated it it was amazing
I don't know why this doesn't have more stars. Yes its kinda weird, you can get really confuse about what is real or not. But I think that it ties everything well in the end and not everybody could have done that while not giving it away with the rest of the book and integrating the reality and fantasies together. I just felt like this could actually be the product of a young depress teenage writer...and how a lot of time you write things not just meant to be a book in the end but because it is ...more
Mar 01, 2011 Charity rated it really liked it
I will admit up front: I am biased.

David Halperin, the author of this book, was one of the members of the writing group I started in North Carolina ten years ago. I read two of his previous (unpublished) novels. I have a high opinion of David, and I feel a great amount of joy that he's published this novel.

That being said, this is a very good book. I love the layers, and the way he plays with time. I love the interplay of myth, and the doubt about reality. I love the very literal and intense way
Feb 08, 2011 Shannon rated it really liked it
I enjoyed "Journal of a UFO Investigator" much more than anticipated. I became quite fond of Danny, a wonderfully strange, very round character, empathizing with his life and troubles, and often wishing I shared his amazing imagination (though, were I suddenly gifted with such, I'd like to think I'd drum up a different fantasy world for myself). The end of the novel does leave one (or, if not one, at least *me*) with handfuls of questions, but the book's (and its ending's) ambiguity is, I think, ...more
Serge Boivin
Mar 08, 2012 Serge Boivin rated it it was ok
For all the promise of the title, and the potential of the premise, this book let me down. I got through this as an audio book on my commute, and I probably would not have stuck with it in print form.

The idea of this boy making up a fantasy world in his journal to somehow cope with or escape what's happening (or not happening) in his life is interesting, but there is just not enough of the real world during most of the book to really draw the reader in and balance the UFO world. We get too deep
Dec 23, 2010 Sandra rated it really liked it
It was a great pleasure to read Journal of a UFO Investigator. Danny Shapiro is 13 and his mother is dying. Not only is she dying, but in an indirect way Danny's birth is the cause of her death. Coupled with the fact that Danny is a Jew in America of the Sixties, how much can a teen be expected to deal with? Danny deals with it all by concentrating on his study of UFOs. His teen years are populated with imaginary people and events he encounters as he keeps a journal on UFO activities. These imag ...more
Feb 15, 2011 Tami rated it really liked it
Can't wait for it to arrive. Just received notice I had won.
Wow, I just got it! Only 7 days after the giveaway ended. That is AWESOME. I am not a very patient person sometimes. It is next after I finish my current read. 2/9/11
Started this weekend and almost completed. What a fun story so far.

What a great book. I loved the story, the characters, etc. I am not a UFO junkie or even a fan. I am not sure I disbelieve other life forms out in the universe, I just don't see why they would really want
Mar 14, 2011 Jonathan rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, fiction
Danny Shapiro has problems: a terrible family secret, something so terrifying neither he nor his parents can talk about it, or even look it squarely in the eye. He also has solutions: investigating UFOs and keeping a journal of his activities and his encounters with a mysterious group of three men trying to silence him. Eventually the edges of reality blur, for the reader and for Danny, in a way that reminds me of Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse V. This book is an enjoyable read. Halperin writes with ...more
Apr 10, 2012 Ethan added it
Journal of a UFO investigator was a strange but at the same time very interesting. It focused on the life of high-skool student who investigates UFOs. He has a hard time in school which is much due to his unstable family situiation. He later goes drops out of high school to go and prove he has not been wasting his time. There are also multiple realities going on at the same time. Overall Journal of a UFO investigator was a somewhat enjoyable but also confusing book that requires you to really re ...more
andrea gutierrez
May 21, 2011 andrea gutierrez rated it liked it
Recommends it for: rick gutierrez
Recommended to andrea by: first-reads
Shelves: first-reads
This is definitely a coming of age story of a young boy having to grapple with harsh certainties in his life. As the plot goes, it is really original and unique. This book, not perhaps inspired by these things, did remind me of the following:
Movies like Stand By Me, not in plot but in young boy's lives and the era that defined them.
Mysterious science fiction short stories (Kelly Link and Karen Russell come to mind).
Jonathon Safran Foer and his novel Everything is Illuminated.
Pamela Cable
May 19, 2012 Pamela Cable rated it it was amazing
David Halperin is one of those gifted writers who knows how to hold the reader in the palm of his hand. His gift to us is this brilliantly written story. I warn you--you won't be able to put it down. It's dark, it's creepy at times, and funny, but I fell in love with Danny from the beginning. I believe this writer writes from his own pain and delivers hope all in the same body of work. What a literary accomplishment. I simply loved every word. Thanks, David!
Jul 20, 2013 Jessi rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book from Goodreads First Reads. I read it very slowly, which I think was best as there was a lot to take in! The characters were all very interesting, and the story was rich with symbolism. At first I wasn't sure what was supposed to be real and what wasn't, which was confusing. As I read on, things began to fall into place. While I found the book to be a lot stranger and different than I was expecting, I did enjoy it, and I'm glad I read it.
May 28, 2011 Andy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is not a book to be messed with. It is weird, uncomfortable, and mildly disturbing, everything that I usually love about reading, but this book missed the mark by a lot. I think that I really lost interest with the book when the protagonist was abducted and spent 100+ pages aboard an alien aircraft... just bizarre and not in a good way. Choose wisely here readers... this book is one step away from an one star from me.
Mark Speed
May 22, 2014 Mark Speed rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, dreadful
I really don't like 'dissing' the work of fellow novelist, but... I thought from the blurb that this would be quite good. I was wrong. Badly. Not a great story. Unconvincing characters, and badly written in terms of some scene changes. I just wasn't engaged as a reader; nor was I carried away in my imagination. Lucky not to get a single star. I've a big library at home. I only give books to charity very rarely. This one was out of the house in record time. Sorry.
Oct 17, 2011 Annthelibrarian rated it did not like it
Danny Shipiro is a young teen in the early 1960’s. A loner and only child, he becomes a self-proclaimed UFO investigator. When he meets some new friends who share his fascination with UFOs his life begins talking unpredictable turns.
I read almost half of this before giving up. It just became too weird- with chapter after chapter of Danny being nabbed and tortured in the airport, Danny finding a spaceship and decending into the earth, etc. etc. Is there a rating for 0 stars?
Mar 02, 2011 Milli rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011
I liked this book for its bizarre storylines and the way the characters took shape. Halperin is a great writer, IMO. I zipped through this book so fast. I couldn't put it down. I loved the two lives being melded together. Eventually I couldn't tell what was real or what was fake but I stopped caring. I just enjoyed the story. I gave this book 3 stars for now. Not sure if i would read it again, but til then, it was an interesting one. it'll stick with me for a bit.
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Once upon a time, I was a teen-age UFO investigator. Later I became a professor of religious studies — my specialty, religious traditions of heavenly ascent.

From 1976 through 2000, I taught Jewish history in the Religious Studies Department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Now retired from teaching, I live in North Carolina with my wife Rose.

I've written five non-fiction books on
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