Review posted January 25, 2015.
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2014. 337 pages.
Dashiell Gibson is the first twelve-year-old to live on the moon. And he is quick to inform the reader that accommodations do not live up to the hype they were told when his parents were being recruited for Moon Base Alpha.
However, the moon is an ideal setting for a locked-room mystery. Dash overhears Dr. Holtz talking to someone excitedly in the middle of the night. He’s going to make a big announcement. The next morning, Dr. Holtz turns up dead. The official version is that he committed suicide. But Dash can’t believe it. Why would he commit suicide when he was so excited about whatever he was going to tell the world?
I liked the beginning and set-up of this book. The time is the not-too-distant future, and having dealt with the government myself, I found it easy to believe Dash’s description of how things function on Moon Base Alpha.
Living in Moon Base Alpha is like living in a giant tin can built by government contractors. It’s as comfortable as an oil refinery. You can’t go outside, the food is horrible, it’s always cold – and the toilets might as well be medieval torture devices.
I also liked the interpersonal dynamics of a small group of people living in a limited amount of space. The Space Tourists, who paid a fortune to travel to the moon, are the unhappiest about how things have turned out. The other kid who’s Dash’s age is obsessed with video games and will do anything to play them – even when they’ve been ordered to stay off the internet so no news will leak out of Dr. Holtz’s death. Another ship arrives soon after and a girl Dash’s age arrives – as well as a security officer who is interested in Dash’s theories about the death.
I was less enthusiastic about the book by the time I’d finished – mainly from quibbles about how things turned out. But along the way, we had an exciting life-threatening encounter on the surface of the moon.
Kids will find plenty to love about this mystery on the moon.