Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Seventh Grade vs. The Galaxy

Levy, Joshua S. Seventh Grade vs. The Galaxy
March 5th 2019 by Carolrhoda Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

It's the last day of school for PSS 118, a space ship school orbiting Jupiter. Because of living conditions on the planet, it's cheaper to have school on a space ship, and even then, it's a rather run down place. Jack is glad for the year to be done, since his father, a science teacher at the school, was fired a few months back for ostensibly sabotaging the engines. After some epic gravity free dodge ball games, Jack and his friend Ari are suffering through the principal's end of year speech when all of the power goes out in the ship. No phones, no lights, nothing. Nothing, except for a bunch of texts from Jack's father directing him to go to the engine room. Jack thinks it is a bad idea, but Ari encourages him. They are joined by Becka, a tall, super-good athlete on whom Ari has an enormous crush. The three are making some headway on fixing things (using Ari's modified nanobot producing PENCIL), but when they go back to the bridge, everyone is gone. Their ship has been captured by the Minister of the Elvid System for a parking violation, and since they are unable to pay the fine, the entire school is imprisoned. Seeing no other way out, Jack and his friends trick their guard into thinking they have a highly contagious disease, the medicine for which is located on their impounded ship. He takes them there, but they manage to take the ship, with plans to perhaps head to Earth to get help. Of course, things don't go smoothly-- the need to get more fuel, have trouble at intergalactic customs, get sidetracked by alien video games, and end up back with their school mates to seek more help in righting the situation. There is still work to be done, but the students and faculty of PSS 118 plan to work together to solve their situation.
Strengths: A lot of good things going on here. The beginning of the books was SNAPPY. It just clicked right along, with the dodgeball game and then the power outage, and then fixing the engine and running into Becka, then the other students disappearing. Whew. Talk about a great start to get readers halfway through the book! The number one complaint my students have about books is that "nothing happens". This cannot be said of this book! I really enjoyed the three main characters, and appreciated that the father was disgraced but still responsible and keeping tabs on Jack. I also really liked the school staff, the brief bit that we saw of them, and am hoping they are more involved in the sequel. The principal was a bit bumbling but pulled through, and there was a scene where the staff are described as circling the students protectively that was really touching. The adventure made sense, the world building was strong, and the end left me wanting to know more!
Weaknesses: The pace slowed down in the middle a bit, when they were looking for fuel and hanging around. Sure, Ari wanted to play alien video games, but this is not the time!
What I really think: Definitely purchasing and will be glad to have this for the fans of space adventure books like Fry's Jupiter Pirates, McDougall's Mars Evacuees, Kraatz's Space Runners,  Emerson's Last Day on Mars, and King's Incredible Space Raiders from Space.

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:01 AM EST

    First time commenter! I've loved your blog and followed it for years. As a fellow middle school librarian, I find your reviews so helpful and you've really boosted my collection development in so many great ways. But I have to ask: how do you do it? Can you write up a post about how you maintain such amazing reading volume and speed? I just hit 350 books a year last year (not counting picture books) and I can't imagine breaking through that book a day barrier without staying up all night. I also feel like my recall really suffers at this rate; I remember the feel of the book and maybe certain key moments, but almost never a single character name after a week or two!