Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Crater is by Homer Hickam, the author of Rocket Boys which was later turned into a movie entitled October Sky. This book was based on Hickam’s own life and was very popular. Though I never read it, I did see the movie and enjoyed it immensely. Therefore, there should be some expectation for Crater to be just as entertaining.
Moving in a different direction than the aforementioned book, Crater is a young adult, science fiction book. The main character is a 16-year-old boy named Crater Trueblood who lives on the moon in a small mining community. Young adult sci-fi is probably my favorite genre to read. Even as an adult, there’s something appealing about the young adult genre. The process of watching young men and women grow and become adults is motivating. That being said, I had a lot of problems with this book.
Crater starts off completely naive to everything, something I feel implausible for a character who grew up in a community founded around a dangerous profession, the majority of the employees being people who escaped Earth for various reasons (including crime). Though I like watching young adults grow in this type of novel, there didn’t seem to be much growing in Crater. Perhaps he gained an inkling of perception that things weren’t necessarily the way he had always imagined them, but it was only an inkling. There was no revelation or growth within the character. This was depressing to me. However, a sequel has just been released (Crescent), so there’s still a chance that Crater will eventually grow up.
But it’s not just Crater that seems too naive to survive in this hostile environment. The story follows a convoy moving mined goods (heel-3) halfway across the moon to Armstrong City, the moon’s main city built near the landing site of the Apollo 11. This journey is a dangerous one, which all those who sign up for the journey know. After all, they’re travelling across the surface of the moon, no atmosphere, no water, inhospitable temperatures. And yet, these men and women in the convoy seem not to care at all that they are in a situation where one wrong move means death by vacuum. The convoy drivers are constantly stepping out of line and acting recklessly in order to cause conflict in the story. The problem with this is that it seems so fake. I have a hard time believing a group of adults would blatantly disregard orders when they know the consequence of doing so could very likely be death.
Overall, this book asked me to suspend disbelief just a little too far. It had a good premise, one that I feel is interesting and worth writing about, but not so good execution. I wish this book would have had more to offer, but in the end it just left me feeling unsatisfied.