Waste of Space: Moon Base Alpha, Book 3

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Waste of Space: Moon Base Alpha, Book 3 Book Poster Image
Attempted murder, mechanical crisis spark satisfying finale.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Discusses geography and topography of moon, including properties of moon dust and challenges to sustaining life on a base. References Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong's travels in a lunar module in 1969, the Very Large Array observatory, Fermi's paradox, and orbital years and different ways time and space might be experienced. Explains causes and symptoms of hypoxia.

Positive Messages

Advances in science to benefit humankind can require tremendous risk and sacrifice with no guarantee of success. Adults and children aren't all that different, and share many of the same strengths and flaws. The ability to put others needs' ahead of your own and to look out for one another is essential for any community to function well. Even in dark moments, humanity is capable of wonderful things. What you take for granted may look very different from another perspective.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dashiell is devoted to his family and very responsible. He isn't enjoying life at the moon base but tries to make the best of it. His sister and his friend Kira are confident, assertive, and smart. Dash's parents are his strongest advocates, supporting his independence and trying to protect him when appropriate. Zan is thoughtful, interested in gathering as much information as possible to better understand humans and assess their role in the universe.


A lunarnaut is poisoned, and fellow residents are vocal about their lack of concern for his well-being. Bully starts a fight with several children while his mother watches without intervening. Child gets nose broken in a fight. Another child uses packaged excrement in self-defense, shoving it into the faces (and mouths) of attackers. Attacker tries to kill children. Selfish parent tries to set up child to take blame for a crime. Kids play a realistic, immersive virtual reality shooting game. References to past murder on base and other incidents where people nearly die. Philosophical discussion about humans and violence, including whether humans enjoy killing other people as evidenced by wars and violence in media.


Juvenile language and insults, including "pee," "poop," "bunghole," "jerk," "dummy," and "psycho."


Mention of Skittles candy and references to Star Wars and Star Trek series.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Waste of Space -- the third and final book in Stuart Gibbs' Moon Base Alpha series -- is another mystery set on an experimental moon base in the year 2041, this time focusing on the attempted murder of an almost universally despised lunarnaut. Dashiell is pressured into investigating, despite his parents' efforts to keep him out of the drama while the adults grapple with a crisis that could end the lunar mission. Most of the adults are realistically flawed: They have great talents but also very human weaknesses. A secondary plotline involves close contact with an extraterrestrial and humans' place in the cosmos. There's some fighting and violence, including a scene where a parent goads a child into brutally fighting with others. Characters are diverse in terms of ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation, and there are references to a same-sex relationship.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCLAUDIA GULDEN-... June 30, 2020

excellent wrap-up story

Although there is that small bit about same sex relationships, our kids are exposed to so much just from television commercials already that we cannot blindfold... Continue reading
Adult Written byLemonminer July 20, 2018

Good wrap up to a nice series!

The book was the third and last of its series, I would recommend reading the first two books (Space case and Spaced out) prior to reading this.
Teen, 13 years old Written bySomebody26 November 8, 2018

Short-Lived Doesn't Mean Little Effort

Stuart Gibbs' best series to date came to an end with Waste of Space. The underrated Moon Base Alpha series provides readers with thrilling adventures, an... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old July 21, 2018

The Best Book I’ve Read On My Summer Reading List!

This a very good wrap to a very good series, especially with Lars Sjoberg almost dying. It was really sad that the series ended on the third book. Dashiell real... Continue reading

What's the story?

WASTE OF SPACE opens on Dashiell's 13th birthday: His father sneaks him onto the surface of the moon for a game of catch that's very much against the rules of the lunar base where they're stationed. The game is cut short by the discovery that someone has poisoned Lars Sjoberg, a rich tourist whose bratty family has made enemies of everyone else on the base. The base commander orders Dashiell to investigate while she and the rest of the crew try grapple with a mechanical crisis that jeopardizes the entire mission. Meanwhile, Dash continues to have secret conversations with Zan, an alien life-form who's trying to decide whether humanity is worth trying to save.

Is it any good?

Stuart Gibbs closes out his Moon Base Alpha series with another satisfying mystery, this time coupled with a race to prevent a disaster at the moon base and an effort to help save all of humanity. That's three layers of drama, but Waste of Space juggles them pretty deftly, with a few red herrings tossed in for good measure.

Dash and his affectionate, levelheaded parents hold the emotional center of the story, which explores the idea of self-interest versus the greater good. With the exception of the caricaturish portrayal of a rich family on the base as tourists, Gibbs (Spy School) offers empathetic characters of diverse backgrounds, interests, and talents, some with surprising depth. He infuses science throughout the story, helping to make Dash's experience very believable. The Zan plotline still seems shoved into place with the more immediate drama, however, and an epilogue intended to answer some of the questions about Zan feels disappointingly rushed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Waste of Space compares with other futuristic sci-fi. What do you like about this genre?

  • What are the benefits and drawbacks of the base's confined setting? Would you want to stay on the moon base?

  • Some of the adults aren't much different from the children: There's bickering, bullying, and selfishness. Do you think that's a realistic portrayal?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love science fiction

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