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Space Case

It's 2041, and 12-year-old Dash Gibson lives with his family in Moon Base Alpha, the first lunar outpost. Life is mostly dull (watching TV, going to the gym to keep fit, and playing video games-not much variety) until Ronald Holtz, beloved base physician, dies under suspicious circumstances. Despite warnings from the base's autocratic commander, Dash continues to investigate the incident as a possible murder. The story is fun, if somewhat thin; a space-age Agatha Christie mystery grafted onto a Scooby Doo plot. There are multiple suspects, each with a seemingly plausible motive-the scientist who accuses Dr. Holtz of stealing his brilliant idea; the shoddy psychiatrist whom Holtz tried to keep off of the mission; even Lars Sjoberg, the hapless and arrogant billionaire space tourist. Some of the characters are colored with a broad brush, such as Kira the tween-age super hacker; the vile, "pure white" Sjoberg family; and Chang Hi-Tech, the tattooed and mohawked tech guru. But Gibbs's passion for science is obvious, and his portrayal of what life might be like for a middle schooler in space is credible and insightful. The difficulty of learning to run in reduced gravity, the dreary food, ubiquitous technologies, and recycled water (urine is purified and returned to the reservoir) all are treated evenhandedly and with reference to relevant science. The prospect and related concerns of contact with a distant race of super-intelligent beings provide an intriguing "what if" counterpoint. Recommended as a breezy read, especially for the budding space scientist.-Bob Hassett, Luther Jackson Middle School, Falls Church, VA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.- School Library Journal (July 1, 2014)

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