The Moon Platoon (Space Runners #1)
Benny can’t wait to fly his very own Space Runner, practice reverse bungee jumping, and explore craters on the dark side of the Moon. But he gets more than he expected when he and the other kids discover the Moon has secrets no one else knows about. Benny is a long way from home—and soon there might not be an Earth to go back to.
Chevelles in Space!
In 2085, Benny lives in the Drylands. His father didn't come back from a scouting mission, so he lives in a caravan with his grandmother and two younger brothers. When he is picked for the elite academy at the swank Lunar Taj, he knows that the way to better the circumstances for his family is to go. Once there, he meets the other students, including the obnoxious Drue, the daredevil Hot Dog, and the techie Jasmine. When Hot Dog goes out in a Space Runner and crashes, Benny and Drue go out looking for her. Theyfind her, but uncover a mystery as well. Could it be that Elijah West has brought the 100 children to the moon for other reasons?
Benny is a great character who is trying hard to fit into a new environment. Life in the Drylands is hard, so he appreciates all of the amenities of the Lunar Taj in a way that Drue does not. Drue is a spoiled brat, but not beyond redemption. Hot Dog throws caution to the wind, but can back up her actions with excellent skills-- and she's described as a pretty blond. I loved that Jasmine was the tech guru instead of some stereotypical geeky boy!
The Lunar Taj is a solidly described setting. Will technology progress that far by 2085? Children who read this book today could conceivably live long enough to find out! I'm not entirely sold that a Chevelle could be retrofitted and made space worthy, but it's a fun concept. This bore a small resemblance to Reilly's 2007 Crash Course, but has a lot more going for it.
Kraatz's The Cloak Society also offered tweens saving the world; as much as this concept gives me pause, middle school students love the idea. Pair this first book in the Space Runners series with Fry's Jupiter Pirates, McDougall's Mars Evacuees, and Kloepfer's Galaxy's Most Wanted for readers who like Star Wars, Star Trek, and traditional space adventure rather than dystopian worlds.