(D) Ages 10-12, Book Reviews, Boys, Middle Grades, Science Fiction
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Space Case by Stuart Gibbs

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs. Simon & Schuster, 2014. 337 pages.space-case

Reading Level: Middle Grades, ages 8-10.
Maturity Level: 4 (ages 11-12)

Moon Base Alpha (MBA), A.D. 2041. After six months, Dashiel (Dash) Gibson rues the day his parents—geologist mom, mineralogist dad—signed up for a three-year residence on the moon. Being an original colonizer of space isn’t all it was cracked up to be in the brochure: the food is lousy, the living quarters miniscule, and you don’t even want to know about the toilets. But you will, anyway. Dash can’t wait to get back home to Hawaii, but his hyper little sister Violet is still jazzed about the moon, as are some of the grownups—especially Dr. Holst, the base physician. In fact, late one night (while he’s in the toilet dealing with a digestive problem) Dash overhears Dr. H talking to an unknown party about an exciting new discovery he’s about to announce. But the next morning Dr. Holst is dead, from an apparent accident. Only Dash knows it wasn’t an accident.

Space Case is a rarity in middle-grade novels—real science fiction. In his acknowledgement the author thanks his astronaut friend Garret Reisman, who contributed first-hand information about what it’s like to live outside the earth’s atmosphere. But its other genre is good old-fashioned mystery, with many credible suspects and a culprit who’s not what you think. If parents are okay with rather frank discussions about going to the bathroom in space (and who isn’t curious about that?), it’s good clean fun with plenty of action and a heart-pounding climax. The worldview reflects the optimistic humanism of the late Gene Rodenberry (creator of Star Trek), but at least Dash learns to count his blessings.


  • A small amount of language, specifically profanity: two uses of the word “godawful”)
  • We have been informed that at least of the subsequent volumes in this series includes a same-sex relationship, so let the reader be warned. Space Case stands quite well on its own and doesn’t end with obvious cliffhangers.

Overall Value: 3.75 (out of 5)

  • Worldview/moral value: 3
  • Artistic value: 3.75

Categories: Fiction, Science Fiction, Mystery, Space

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  1. Cheryl says

    Thanks for the recommendation. My eleven-year-old, picky-reader son devoured it, even thanking me for finding such a fun book for him to read. Thanks for making me look good. 🙂

  2. Cheryl says

    Can anyone recommend any of Stuart Gibbs other books written for this age range?

    • Cheryl, Space Camp is the only Gibbs book that any of us have read so far, but he has a couple of series that look like fun. The Last Musketeer is a time-travel adventure that sends the hero (and his parents, which is unusual) back to 17th century Paris and three guys know as Aramis, Athos, and Porthos. His current series is called Spy School, and there’s another volume coming out next year–we’ll try to catch up with it. Another reliable author for boys is Roland Smith.

  3. Cheryl says

    Thanks, Janie, for that link to your previous article. You made me laugh hard with your example of titles that might otherwise be marketed to boys. I’m not familiar with Roland Smith, so I’m appreciative of the lead.

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