A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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?
- Author: Stuart Gibbs
- Genre: Mystery
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Great Boy Role Models, Science and Nature, Space and Aliens
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: April 24, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 336
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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