Shanghaied to the Moon (YA)
by Michael Daley
Edited by Timothy Travaglini
Cover Artist: James Jean
Review by Paul Haggerty
Putnam Juvenile Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 0399246193
Date: 01 March, 2007 List Price $16.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Stewart Hale has a dream and a curse. More than anything else, he wants to be a pilot like his famous mother and his vid hero Val Thorsten, the man who single handedly opened up the solar system. The only problem is that he stinks at Astronavigation. He just knows if he can go to the Space Academy, he'll get a grip on the problem and the future will be rosy. The problem is that he has to sign up for this year's class and his father is stalling him ... if you can call running off to the Moon without any warning by so simple a name as stalling. Stewart can't understand why his father is so dead set against his going to space. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that his mother died in a shuttle accident when Stewart was very young. So young in fact, that he barely remembers it. And yet no one will talk about his past except his counselor, who seems to want to talk about nothing else. Stewart knows there's something nefarious going on here, but all he really cares about is the application in his pocket and the 385,000 kilometers between him and the person who needs to sign it. Enter a ground down old spacer, a rattle-trap spaceship, and a job offer for someone "... under 4'5" tall ... (Midgets also considered)".
There's a small problem with the title of the book. Stewart is in no way shanghaied. That implies being taken against his will. Sure the spacer may be a drunken old sot. And the mission maybe not be strictly on the up and up. And for that matter everything he's been taught to believe might be a total whitewash, but Stewart still climbs aboard of his own free will. It's not till later, when the romance of space travel turns out to be not quite what the vids implied that he begins to have second thoughts.
Shanghaied to the Moon is the story of two people seeking to recover the past so that they can have a future. The longer Stewart is away from the counselor, the more strange flashes of memory occur to him. Memories that make no sense and can't possibly be fitted into what he knows to be true. And when Stewart searches the old man's dufflebag and finds a huge packet of commendations and a copy of a diary written by his mother, connections between his family and this man simply complicate everything. From the evidence Stewart finds aboard the decrepit old space shuttle, the old spacer was once a cleaner, better smelling, and considerably more sober man. But something in his past has him running scared. But is he running away, or running towards? And if he's in trouble, will it come knocking on Stewart's door?
Stewart and the spacer make a good pair. Both are stubborn, opinionated, and totally sure of the rightness of their positions. They're up against corporate corruption, government interference, and the best intentions of people who only want to help, regardless of the damage they do. Between them, they're going to need to uncover some secrets, perform some miracles, and lay some ghosts to rest.
And get that Space Academy application signed PDQ!