Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Unique setting brought to life with great characters and story
Cons: None in this universe
The Bottom Line:
Blast off for the moon
With intriguing mystery
In a fun setting
Dashiell finds Murder Spices Up Life on the Moon
I was fortunate to discover Stuart Gibbs with his first middle grade novel, and he’s one of several reasons I started delving back into that sub-genre – I remembered just how fun the books could be when done well. Space Case represents the start of Stuart’s fourth series (one completed and three currently active), and I can already guarantee I will be along for every book in this series, too.
Dashiell Gibson has been living as one of the first humans to colonize the Moon for six months now, and he’s bored. There aren’t that many kids his age, and there is even less to do. In fact, he’s found he actually enjoys school since it gives him something to do.
All that changes one night when he overhears Dr. Holtz planning to reveal a big discovery the next morning. Only when morning arrives, Dr. Holtz is found outside the base dead. He’d gone out alone, breaking one of the biggest rules – one he always made sure others followed. Dashiell is certain that foul play was involved, yet no one else believes him, even going so far as to suggest that Dr. Holtz was beginning to go crazy. Is that why Dr. Holtz was outside? Or did someone really kill him?
I must admit I was a bit surprised to see murder as the mystery in a middle grade novel. Usually that’s not the crime under investigation. And yet, it works here. I think the fantasy elements help keep it from being as shocking for the age group as it might otherwise be, but the author also knows the age group and keeps the focus on the puzzle of who and why. I know I had my suspects along the way, but I never saw the ending coming.
Stuart also does a great job of creating a realistic look at space travel, even in the near future of 2041. I found this look at what life would real be like interesting and an added bonus to the story. Plus it provided some great humor as Dashiell explains what life is really like or as the humans forget things like lesser gravity. I laughed several times, and I’m sure the target age group will as well.
Of course, all this is pointless if we don’t like the characters. That’s not something we have to worry about in the slightest. At one point, I actually found myself hoping that none of them would turn out to be the killer – that’s how much I liked them. The kids are the obvious stars, but even the adults were likeable.
So you can see why I will be returning to Mood Base Alpha as soon as the next book launches. Space Case is a fun, captivating debut that will win Stuart Gibbs new fans and keep his loyal fans happy.
This review is an entry in this week's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday.