A well-crafted mystery with a healthy dose of sci-fi, a bit of humor, interesting characters, and a surprise at the end.
Recommended grade level: 4-7
Pages: 352 (for ISBN 9781442494862)
Pace: moderate to fast
Summary: For twelve-year-old Dash Gibson, being one of the first humans to live on a moon colony isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But his life gets a jolt when a top lunar scientist mysteriously turns up dead. Dash suspects foul play, but no one believes him, so Dash takes the case himself – but he better watch out. If he doesn’t crack the case quickly, he too might end up dead on the moon. (Source)
Who will like this book?: This book should appeal to a wide range of readers. Dash is an entertaining narrator, and the mystery progresses at a steady clip. Plus, it makes sense. (This is not the case for a lot of mysteries, in my opinion.) The sci-fi is enough to hook fans of the genre, but not enough to scare off non-fans.
Who won’t like this book?: There are a lot of characters to keep track of, which may throw some readers. There is no romance and little drama in this book.
Other comments: Middle schoolers are always asking me for mystery, and there aren’t enough good ones being published. This book really did keep me guessing until the end. Plus, it’s full of human drama and a lot of fun.
Sequel(s): Spaced Out (2016) – Moon Base Alpha series
Readalikes: Gibbs’ FunJungle series (beginning with Belly Up) and Spy School series should be your next stop for humor and mystery. Carl Hiassen’s youth books are also full of quirk and mystery. Readers interested in colonies in harsh locations may also enjoy Dark Life by Kat Falls.