#SciFiMonth Guest Review: Area 51 Interns: Zoned Out by James S. Murray and Carsen Smith

A review copy was provided by the publisher. This does not affect the contents of this review, and all opinions belong to the reviewer.

Today we have a very special guest review by my daughter Alexis, age 10, who would like to share with you her thoughts on Area 51 Interns: Zoned Out by James S. Murray and Carsen Smith. The following is her review, edited only for grammar and clarity.

Area 51 Interns: Zoned Out by James S. Murray and Carsen Smith

Alexis’ Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Middle Grade, Science Fiction

Series: Book 1 of Area 51 Interns

Publisher: Penguin Workshop (October 18, 2022)

Length: 240 pages

Author Information: James S. Murray | Carsen Smith

Area 51 Interns: Zoned Out by James S. Murray and Carsen Smith is about four friends named Viv, Charlotte, Elijah, and Ray who intern at Area 51. They have just finished saving the world but apparently that isn’t enough to get them out of the copy room where they are stuck blacking out documents. That’s how the book starts. Then, Joanna comes. She is a very smart high schooler who was invited to Area 51 to help with research. Together with Joanna, Viv and her friends discover a map they were supposed to black out, which shows all the secret areas and door codes. At night, they follow the map down a giant flight of stairs to an area called the Forbidden Zone.

In the Forbidden Zone, they discover that Area 51 has been hiding a shocking secret! The government has been keeping cryptids and other mythological creatures like the Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster and the Chupacabra in an underground base. After a security breach and some of the creatures escape, Charlotte is blamed for letting out one of the most dangerous cryptids in the world. Now her friends have to clear her name and return all the escaped creatures back to Area 51.

This is the second book of the series and I had a little trouble figuring out what was going on at first, but after things were explained later on in the book, I didn’t feel lost anymore. I really liked this story because I love anything to do with mythological creatures. I was so surprised and happy when Viv and her friends found jackalopes, the Mothman and even a wendigo in the Forbidden Zone!

The characters were also fun and seemed like real people. Viv is the main character. Her mom is the director of Area 51, so Viv is constantly trying to impress her. Charlotte is Viv’s best friend. She is Australian, and both her parents also work at Area 51. Viv’s crush is Elijah, who is obsessed with flying because his dad’s a pilot. And then there’s Ray, who is also Viv’s friend. Ray is timid and has a little alien friend named Meekee. He’s my favorite character because he’s the most like me.

Then there’s Joanna, who is Viv’s nemesis. Viv becomes jealous when Joanna comes and is given top level clearance, when Viv and her friends only have level one clearance. Joanna also embarrasses Viv in front of her mom on purpose, and flirts with Elijah which annoys Viv to no end. But because Joanna is a special guest and everyone loves her, there wasn’t anything Viv could do about it and that made me feel bad for her.

I would give this book four and a half stars, but it was really close to five stars! I liked that it was filled with action and it was very funny, like when Ray was trying teach Meekee how to say human words or when Charlotte got locked in with the Mothman in his terrarium. I also liked the friendship between the characters, even though they sometimes fought.

What I didn’t like about the story was that there was a lot of drama, especially with Viv and her mom. The book was obsessed about her mommy problems and to be honest they argued over some pretty dumb things.

I also thought there would be more aliens. But that’s okay, because the mythological creatures made up for it.

So you should read this book if you’re a kid who likes cryptids and science fiction. I really enjoyed it, this was one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I’ve read A LOT of books this year!


10 Comments on “#SciFiMonth Guest Review: Area 51 Interns: Zoned Out by James S. Murray and Carsen Smith”

  1. Nice! I love books that include a group of friends, much like found family books. So often I can find one that really resonates with me, like Ray did for you. I would have loved the sections with jackalopes as I used to live in Arizona and New Mexico and they were popular over there. Great review, I really enjoyed it.


    • I do feel the best Middle Grade adventure books are the ones that feature an ensemble cast of friends. And my daughter always gravitates towards the quiet bookish characters, I think she sees a lot of herself in them, lol!


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