Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

Initiating Launch Sequence

A review of Apollo's Outcasts, a book set on the moooooon!!

Initiating Launch Sequence

BOOK REPORT for Apollo's Outcasts by Allen Steele

Cover Story: Meh
BFF Charm: Yeah, If I Were A Guy
Swoonworthy Scale: 3
Talky Talk: About A Boy
Bonus Factors: The Moon, Political Crazy People
Relationship Status: I'll Sit By You On The School Bus

Cover Story: Meh

I have zero strong feelings about this cover, maybe because I read the e-book and maybe because I'm really sleepy and hungry right now, so my only strong feelings are related to naps and food. It's really just rather blah. Yeah, it's about kids on the moon, but a giant astronaut boy? Not super creative or compelling (although my 2-year-old LOVES it. He kept looking at it and saying, "Rocket! Astronaut! I'm an astronaut!" and then making blast-off noises and pretending to fly around the living room, so I guess it wins some points there).

The Deal:

Jamey Barlowe's birthday starts out like any other birthday, except his dad wakes him in the middle of the night instead of in the morning. And then his family makes a daring drive to the nearest space station and he and one of his sisters get sent to the international lunar station for safety, because a crazy person has taken over the government and his dad is now an enemy of the state. You know, pretty normal.

Jamey was born on the moon, and as a result of his low-gravity infancy, his bones are super fragile on Earth, and he spends most of his time in a wheelchair. Naturally, although he's anxious about his dad and the older sister who got left behind, the moon is pretty awesome, since there he's no longer disabled. When the U.S. government threatens the security of the international lunar community, Jamey jumps at the chance to defend his new life and joins the Lunar Search and Rescue force, the Rangers.

BFF Charm: Yeah, If I Were A Guy

Jamey's a pretty good guy, but I didn't feel like I got to know him very well. I know, that's totally a girly thing to say, and he did share all kinds of stuff about his mom and his feelings, but I don't know if we have all that much in common. I was also excited to have a character who's in a wheelchair be the hero, so I'm not sure I'm all that thrilled about the magical intervention (ok, scientific intervention) that makes him an able-bodied kid like everyone else. It was cool to get a feel for how that would affect a kid who's been wheelchair-bound his whole life, but not the same as having some real diversity. Anyway, back to Jamey. Yeah, if I were a guy, we'd be great buddies as long as we didn't have the hots for the same girl -- playing moonball, goofing around, saving the world -- but he's not really the kind of guy who's friends with girls. Maybe in a few years.

Swoonworthy Scale: 3

Jamey's got a couple of love interests here, but he's so busy adjusting to his new life that they feel like afterthoughts. Even he admits he gets too busy to hang out with his girlfriend, and he doesn't seem to mind -- even though she does. He's a pretty typical teenage boy, so even when things eventually heat up a little, they never get super hot.

Talky Talk: About A Boy

Hey, have I told you Jamey's a typical teenage boy? Yeah? So, Steele does a great job capturing the voice of a teenage boy, but the consequence is the female characters are pretty flat. Jamie's sister is a Nickelodeon sitcom sister, all eye-rolling and princess behavior, and even the love interests are undeveloped. But the point of the story isn't the characters -- especially the girls -- it's the action and political intrigue, and Steele writes nice sci-fi action and intrigue. The wrapping up wasn't as high-octane as I'd hoped -- if this becomes a movie, there will need to be more explosions -- but the message comes through pretty clear. The book is really great if you're just in the mood for some not-super-hard sci-fi, something there's just not enough of in YA these days.

Bonus Factor: The Moon

Maybe it's because my son's such a space freak right now, but I really loved reading about the moon. Steele tried to base a lot of the technology on real scientific proposals and ideas, too, so that was cool.

Bonus Factor: Political Crazy People

What? You've had enough politics to last a lifetime? Too bad! The nuts who take charge of the government are the real foaming-at-the-mouth types who like to paint all opposition as anti-patriotic and who are major fans of protectionism and unilateral action. Definitely not like anyone I can think of.

Casting Call:

Zachary Gordon as Jamey Barlowe

I haven't seen the Wimpy Kid movies (or read the books), but he looks how I pictured Jamey. Also, why are there shirtless pictures of this kid on the internet?! I felt like such a sleazy pedo trying to find a pic while in the library. Jeez.

Michele Bachmann as President Shapar

Relationship Status: I'll Sit By You On The School Bus

Hey, kid, we're not good friends in school or anything, but I don't mind hanging out with you for an hour each way to and from school. You're good enough not to bug me while I get my algebra homework done, you're pretty funny, and sometimes you let me borrow the latest sci-fi book you're reading. I think in a few years, when you've outgrown that awkward freshman boyness and can relate to girls a little more, you'll be awesome. In the meantime, I don't mind indulging my inner tomboy and sci-fi geek and hanging with you on the school bus.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Prometheus Books.  I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Apollo's Outcasts is available now.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.