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by Allen Steele

Age Range: 11 - 16

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-61614-686-3
Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books

Despite prose weaknesses, this space adventure with spectacular settings demonstrates that sometimes you can’t keep a good plot down.

One August night in 2097, in suburban Maryland, Jamey’s father wakes him at midnight and tells him to pack a bag and hurry. The family piles into their van, and Dad inches it down the street with headlights off. The president’s dead and the dangerous vice president’s detaining activist scientists like Dad, who intends to hide his kids “[t]he last place [the government would] ever think of looking”: Apollo colony, on the moon. But shuttle launches are no secret. Soon after the rushed launch, Navy jets and a missile barely miss taking them down. Jamey finds himself fighting propaganda campaigns and a lunar ground battle against the corrupt U.S. regime—all while getting accustomed to living on the moon, where, due to lower gravity, he can walk without his wheelchair for the first time. Nitty-gritty details about space travel, astronomy and lunar geography and geology (Apollo's mines provide “the principal source of Earth’s energy reserves”) are fascinating yet tightly crammed and hard to decipher. Steele’s text is ever-factual, which is alienating during emotional dialogue. But nothing beats learning what it’s like to walk around the moon and how the Earth appears from there.

Awkward prose notwithstanding, this is for anyone who’s gazed longingly upward. (Science fiction. 11-16)