Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs

Space Case is one of the nominations for this year's Edgar awards in the juvenile category. As in previous years, I decided to read the nominations and make a prediction as to which one could win. In previous years I have been more right than wrong. There are no major or even minor spoilers in this review.

I grabbed a couple other nominations from this category and began reading the opening chapters of all of them one after the other, but by the next day this was the only one that I was still reading. What fascinated me the most about Space Case, at least in the beginning was the setting: The first Moon base. The science and logistics of low gravity living are great attention grabbers and the confined space from which there is no escape adds to the suspense and tension in the story.

Kids reading this book will learn a lot about what it would be like to live on the Moon. The information is accurate, too, as the author admits getting lots of help from real astronauts. However, the protagonist, Dashiell, a twelve year old, does not like it. His parents have jobs on the moon base and so his whole family lives there in a cramped room on a cramped base. The food is bad, going to the washroom is disturbing, he has few friends, and the other kids his own age there, are not ones he would hang out with on earth; in general, he feels like he is in a prison and there is nothing he can do about it. If he complains, he will get in trouble with NASA.

Dashiell is a great character, as are all the supporting characters in the story. Adults in the story think Dashiell has a bit of an attitude problem but that is understandable considering the circumstances. It is stressful enough growing up on earth, let alone on the Moon, but he tries hard to put a positive spin on it all. He is witty, brave and observant. His humor colors the overall tone, which leaps off the page and adds to the fast pace, making this a real page turner.

After a scientist dies, he suspects it is murder, but no one believes him and NASA does not want to pursue his suspicions, because that would taint the image the world has of the first Moon base. Dashiell is told to forget about the mysterious death, but when one adult has the same suspicions, he helps her and continues his investigation-  under the radar. There are no shortage of suspects, everyone is acting suspicious.There are plenty of clues and plenty of red herrings to untangle.

The climactic scene is a great action sequence when Dash goes on a moonwalk. The ending has a great twist no one could predict, despite the clues and the foreshadowing.

On the cover it states that this is a  Moon Base Alpha novel, which suggests this could be part of a series in the making. I'm looking forward to reading others in the future, especially after the twist ending in this book. The storyline possibilities are endless.

Five out of five stars. Grab it!