Zany boarding school romps dominate in Kruk’s futuristic middle-grade debut novel about friendship and bravery.
Leo Gray’s family members, who live in Riverdale, New York, in 2113, love the technology of the past, but their old-tech ways cause his schoolmates to tease him: “No one else’s parents that he knew of used a dishwasher, vacuum, or sewing machine.” Still, their steampunk-ish style doesn’t stop Leo from embracing modern science and dreaming of a more up-to-date way of life. He competes to win a trip to the Lunar Academy, a new utopian school in Luna City on the moon. Various obstacles interfere—including his father’s disapproval of the idea—but Leo finally gets to the moon, where he discovers that he can make good friends and pursue a future in science. He meets the smart and athletic Andromeda Groves, her cousin Pavo Digbi, and the loud but cowardly Gruswaldious Pinwheel, but he also must deal with his longtime, privileged nemesis, Gavin Jones. The story gets much of its spark from its bright, exaggerated characters and amusing, glitzy technology, which includes such imaginative items as “robo-kittens” and “electro-paper,” without dawdling over technological specifications. The book is definitely a page-turner; indeed, Leo progresses through his first year at Lunar Academy almost too quickly, with entire weeks, and even months, compressed into short paragraphs. This keeps the emphasis on the action, but it sacrifices opportunities for further character development. When a clear and very dangerous threat to Earth and the moon is revealed, the friends work well together as they attempt daring rescues and confrontations. The quick, witty dialogue will entertain young readers; for instance, when Leo wears his favorite outfit to a physically demanding new job, his new boss grins and says, “Good thing you wore some ugly clothes!”
A humorous and heartfelt sci-fi tale.