Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind: The Nerdy Dozen, Book 2

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind: The Nerdy Dozen, Book 2 Book Poster Image
Likable kids anchor goofy secret-agent sequel.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

References to the prehistoric Chicxulub impact crater, space junk encircling the Earth, and NASA's "vomit comet" for training. Lots of pseudo science regarding space travel, but it's unlikely to be mistaken for scientific fact.


Positive Messages

Great leadership includes owning up to your mistakes and making a sincere effort to correct them. Faking expertise can be helpful in a pinch, but ultimately it leads to trouble. Regaining trust is a hard road.


Positive Role Models & Representations

The Nerdy Dozen are capable and resourceful, never shirking their responsibility. Fiercely loyal to one another, they're willing to trust former rivals in times of peril. They acknowledge their missteps and keep the team goal at the forefront.


Violence & Scariness

Cartoonish peril: parents lost in space, a crash landing, a volcanic eruption.



What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Close Encounters of the Nerd Kind, the second in Jeff Miller's Nerdy Dozen series, features a team of avid online gamers who come together in real life to tackle top-secret missions. They're a quirky bunch, but they're fiercely loyal to one another. The team is put into perilous situations, but they're so unrealistically over-the-top -- fleeing an erupting volcano on Mars, escaping from a bored teen's basement on the moon -- that they're never frightening. Neil's family is completely unaware of his work for the government, which doesn't seem too concerned about sending children into dangerous circumstances.

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What's the story?

Ever completing a secret mission for the U.S. Air Force, eighth-grader Neil Andertol has found his regular civilian life a little boring. He's thrilled to be reunited with his friends and gamers from the last mission for another high-stakes adventure. This time, the Nerdy Dozen are needed to recover a stolen spacecraft. It soon becomes clear there's an even bigger concern: a deadly asteroid hurtling toward Earth. Neil is charged with commanding his team, relying primarily on his experience playing a video game intended to prepare him for a mission like this ... only Neil never actually played the game. He hopes his instincts will be enough to save the Earth and get his friends home safely.

Is it any good?

The first book had plenty of goofy plot points, but the sequel levels up the implausibility to near absurdity. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE NERD KIND reunites the young heroes of the first book in the Nerdy Dozen series, this time sending them into space. We encounter an invisible secret station on the moon, kids tracking down their lost parents across the solar system, and even an ailment called "Advanced Space Silliness." Serviceable but uninspired writing just barely pulls the plot together. Affable characters, layers of looniness, and a fantastical plot make this a fun, quick read.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes Neil a good leader. Given his mistakes, would you trust him to lead you?

  • How can video games help you develop skills and assets that are useful offline?

  • How can you enjoy interacting with friends and stay safe online?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction

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