Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Science Fiction (Gibbs and Myers)

17571237Gibbs, Stuart. Space Case. 
16 September 2014, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Dashiell isn't thrilled about living on the moon with his scientist parents in the first ever permanent moon base, but he realizes that despite the cramped and unpleasant conditions, he is making history. When the base physician, Dr. Holtz, takes an unauthorized outing out onto the surface of the moon and is killed because his suit wasn't on properly, there is lots of conjecture. Did he have space madness? Was he depressed? Or was someone trying to kill him? Dashiell wouldn't have thought much of it, except that he overhead Dr. Holtz talking to someone on the phone when both were in the bathroom late at night. Apparently, Dr. Holtz had a big announcement, but never got to make it. Right on the heels of this event, a new group of scientists arrive at the station, including Kira, who is just Dashiell's age. Since the only other 12 year old is the lumpish video gamer Rodrigo, Dashiell is happy, and inclined to trust Kira with the investigation of the murder. He has been contacted by Zan Perfonic, who has arrived on the shuttle but lacks some of the insider information, to help solve the crime. He and Kira find many clues, including one of Holtz using sign language to indicate that his phone needs to be found-- which the two have to venture out onto the surface of the moon to locate!
Strengths: Gibbs writes a very good mystery for middle grade readers. They are murder mysteries, but full of humor rather than gratuitious violence. This makes them a good step up from clue-oriented mysteries about missing dogs or mysterious neighbors. The details of life in space, from the food to toilet facilities, will intrigue readers and reset the middle grade fascination with bodily functions in a framework of science. Very clever. Good science fiction twist at the end. Of course, this is better for impressionable young people when they are older, because they will not EXPECT jet packs in the way that some of us still do!
Weaknesses:  It wouldn't be middle grade if the teen didn't save the day, but it was a bit of a stretch to believe that none of the adults were all that concerned with the death possibly being a murder.

Myers, Walter Dean. On a Clear Day
September 23rd 2014 by Crown Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Netgalley.com

Dahlia, who is of Dominican descent, lives in New York alone since the death of her parents. The world is a scary place in 2035, and gangs roam the landscape attacking people, which has lead to the rise of gated communities and the movement to all on line school. Dahlia is very good at math and has been published in several math journals, so is located by Javier and Michael and recruited to go to London to a gathering of concerned teens who are trying to overthrown C-8, the eight multinational corporations who are trying to control the world. While there, they meet with lots of different teens involved in facets of this movement as well as terrorists.
Strengths: Awesome cover, culturally diverse cast of characters, interesting premise.
Weaknesses: This is DEFINITELY a YA book—random f-bombs, drug use, and bizarre things like “slut strips” thrown into the mix. It also got rather confusing and boring, with all the descriptions about the corporations. I just was not sure what to think of this one. Even though it’s Myers, I would definitely read before purchasing.

It is very sad that Mr. Myers didn't live to see the publication of his last book. He will be sorely missed. 

2 comments:

Jim Randolph said...

Thanks for the heads up on Space Case. There's plenty of fantasy for my kiddos but I'm always looking for more good SF!

Iron Guy Carl said...

I grew up as a Baby Boomer and, like all of us, expected a jet pack and flying cars like the Jetsons. We foresaw living in domes on the moon and under the oceans but here's what we never thought of in our wildest imaginations--watching movies or reading books on your phone, gas at nearly $4.00 a gallon, TV (in color!) with 500 channels and--most incredible back in that day--an African-American as president.

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