Review of middle grade scifi One Giant Leap by Ben Gartner
“I’m pretty sure I’m about to die in space. And I just turned twelve and a half.”
Blast off with the four winners of the StellarKid Project on a trip to the International Space Station and then to the Gateway outpost orbiting the Moon! It’s a dream come true until space junk collides with the ISS, turning their epic trip into a nightmare of survival. Alone aboard the Aether starship, the kids have to work as a team to save the adults before the ISS is destroyed. Suit up, cadet, and launch into adventure with One Giant Leap!
Excerpt from One Giant Leap
I’m pretty sure I’m about to die in space. And I just turned twelve and a half.
The frayed end of my tether whips around like a lasso as I flip front over back and sideways.
I see the long blue smear of Earth hurtling past. The silver hull of my ship, the Aether, whizzes by in a blur before I gasp at the once-glorious International Space Station. Now, just wreckage. The ISS spits pieces that twinkle in the sunlight. Sparks sizzle and blink against the black backdrop of the endless universe.
My spin continues until all I can see is the void of deep space, punctured by bright pinpricks of gaseous stars millions of light-years away.
The horizon of Earth again, with its clouds and land and water. Home.
The shiny tube of my ship, the Aether. It’s. So. Close. And yet, it can’t save me.
The ISS, Earth, the Aether, and here we go again on this terrible merry-go-round— You get the picture. It’s not good. I close my eyes.
I’m tumbling, and I think I’m squirting oxygen from my life-support backpack, which isn’t helping my somersaults. My suit is losing pressure. At least that’s what I guess is causing the fuzz in my brain. It’s hard to think. My vision is narrowing, dimming, like I’m about to wink away.
And the thing that I think is actually going to kill me? Water is leaking from somewhere inside my suit. Quickly it builds up and clings to my face like a wet rag. It’s a film over my eyes, it plugs my nose, and it slides into my mouth like alien slime whenever I try to cough. I shake my head violently to jiggle the liquid free, so hard that a nerve cries out in my neck. The head-whip kinda works, and I’m able to suck in a tiny breath. I choke down some water and, though the idea sounds ludicrous, I think, Am I going to drown . . . in space?
At this point, you might be asking, “What is a twelve-year-old doing in space?”
And I’d say, “That’s what you’re worried about? Not that I’m going to die?!”
It’s cool. Let me answer both questions. Why I’m one of the first kids in space, and how I ended up in this mess, adrift from my craft and about to become a permanent orbiting satellite. If I don’t plunge into the atmosphere and burn up first.
I’ll pause my death scene to explain a bit about how I got here. Because that’s a thing, right? Aren’t you curious how I got into this impossible quagmire? It’s a pretty amazing story. And 100 percent true.
The books I tend to enjoy reading are about kids being brave, or learning how to be, and I’d like to tell you this is one of those. But I’m not feeling it right now.
To be fair, in those books the kids are fighting fantasy monsters that disappear into dust when you stab them, or they’re in a simulation, or a video game, or you kind of know everything’s going to be all right, right? It’s fake danger.
This story is different. This one’s real. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to survive this. Adrift in space with my oxygen running low, all alone, spinning uncontrollably, a water leak in my suit threatening to drown me.
It all started innocently enough when a harmless package arrived in the mail . . .
My Review of One Giant Leap
Such a realistic (or at least real-feeling) science fiction story. Perfect for middle grade audiences seeking a look to the future but with plenty of present-time heart. I’ll admit that some of the science went over my head, but I’ve always found space travel and exploration fascinating, so that didn’t bother me at all. Someone, somewhere understands how it works, and I’m good with that.
Wonderful representation, both of people across the globe and of different ways our troubles can affect us. I particularly loved the juxtaposition of dealing with crises in space with the backdrop of normal preteen issues, as well as some not-so-everyday problems. This book is one of the most hopeful and upbeat science fiction stories I’ve read in a while. Very refreshing in a genre that seems to be dominated by end-of-the-world dystopias.
All in all, great book, great story, great tension. Highly recommend to adults and kids alike.
About Ben Gartner
Ben Gartner is the award-winning author of adventure books for middle graders. His stories take readers for a thrilling ride, maybe even teaching them something on the journey. Ben can be found living and writing near the mountains with his wife and two boys.
Ben Gartner will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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