Spaced Out, by Stuart Gibbs

I very much enjoyed Stuart Gibbs' first Moon Base Alpha book, Space Case, a middle grade murder mystery set in a small moon base, and was happy to find myself enjoying the second, Spaced Out ( Simon & Schuster, April 2016) too; perhaps not quite as much because of it lacking the first fine freshness of the first, but still it provided perfectly adequate reading pleasure.   My thoughts will contain a spoiler for the first book, so don't read anymore if you haven't read Space Case (you can go read my review of it here instead).

So life on Moon Base Alpha continues to be an introvert's nightmare (not a lot of space to get away from it all) with bonus bullies in the form of the two nasty kids of a the rich family of moon tourists.  Spaced Out opens with those two kids attacking the protagonist, Dashiell, who gets the best of them with a clever/desperate counterattack with suction plumbing.  It's no surprise to Dash that the commander of the moon base, Nina, wants to talk to him about this incident (NASA needs the space tourist bucks), but is a surprise when she fails to follow through with his punishment.  And then he finds out he was the last person to see her before she disappeared without a trace.

Nina can't be found anywhere inside the very small, hiding-place free base or on the nearby lunar surface.  Suspicions flair and tempers are strained.  A murder had been committed not long before (the sort of thing that sets peoples nerves on edge), and when evidence incriminating Nina of NASA rule breaking is found, things get even tenser.  Dash once again puts his mind to solving a lunar mystery, and once again he finds his own life is in danger.

And in the meantime, there's a subplot going on involving Dash's communications with an alien emissary, who's learning about humanity from him.  "She" hints at dire things awaiting humanity but is frustratingly unforthcoming about specifics, which adds to Dash's tension....

So it's more of the same sort of story that we had in the first book--a mystery in a closed, confined space with few suspects.  I thought it was a perfectly fine mystery.  But since a lot of the fun of the first book was seeing the moon base and reading the promotional literature from NASA sprinkled into the narrative, this one isn't quite as fun.  I think though that I enjoyed the mystery story of this one more, and am happy to look forward to the next book, since it looks like Dash's adventures are going to really get going!

Dash, like most people on the moon base (the only exceptions being the nasty rich family) is a mixed race kid, so it counts as a diverse read.

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