Cover Reveal: EIGHTH GRADE VS. THE MACHINES, by Joshua S. Levy

Hey Josh! Thanks again for coming back to the MG Book Village for another dover reveal! We’re thrilled to have you. Before we get to the big reveal, though, can you tell us a bit about the book?

For. Sure. EIGHTH GRADE VS. THE MACHINES is the direct sequel to my first book, SEVENTH GRADE VS. THE GALAXY. They’re both part of a series we’re now calling “The Adventures of the PSS 118.” They’re middle grade sci-fi stories about a group of kids and their teachers who go to school aboard the “Public School Spaceship” (PSS!) 118.

SEVENTH GRADE opened on the last day of the school year. The PSS 118, in orbit around one of Jupiter’s moons, got attacked by aliens and catapulted across the galaxy. And it was up to seventh graders Jack, Becka, and Ari to help the school find its way home. (Your classic summer vacation, in other words.) School Library Journal called it, “A perfect bridge for readers looking for a Percy Jackson-esque work of science fiction.”—and I couldn’t have asked for a better description.

EIGHTH GRADE picks up where SEVENTH GRADE left off—the kids and teachers are home. But nothing is the same. I really want to avoid spoilers here, because SEVENTH GRADE ends…on a bit of surprise note. Long story short, though, EIGHTH GRADE takes the shenanigans up a level.

One of my favorite things about SEVENTH GRADE is how “down to earth” I tried to make it, even though, you know, it’s set on a spaceship in the future. The kids still have homework, assemblies, and classrooms. Here’s an image from inside the SEVENTH GRADE cover, which shows a “fire escape” layout of the school!

Like your average middle school, the PSS 118 has a lunchroom, gym, and library—and command bridge, fusion reactors, and gravitometric field generator (just hang a left at the teachers’ lounge).

In EIGHTH GRADE VS. THE MACHINES, they’re still going to school—but the PSS 118 has been repaired and upgraded. So they’re ready for all the things kids tend to expect out of eighth grade. Stand-up comedian robots. Libraries at the center of alien planets. And Hannukah doughnuts (in space!).

Like I said in the cover reveal for SEVENTH GRADE, which MG Book Village was generous enough to run for the first book: I wanted the world to be both familiar and different. And fun. I wanted it to be a lot of fun.

Was the artwork for the EIGHTH GRADE VS. THE MACHINES cover done by the same illustrator as SEVENTH GRADE? What did you think when you first saw it?

Yes! I’m so delighted that Petur Antonsson (@peturantonsson) illustrated the EIGHTH GRADE cover, which I love as much as the last one. Petur has done (and continues to do) such incredible work in the middle grade sci-fi/fantasy space. I’d really encourage anyone who likes the art to check out more of Petur’s work, including the amazing illustrations for the new middle grade Star Wars High Republic books (which I LOVE), and Lori Snyder’s THE CIRCUS AT THE END OF THE SEA, which also comes out in October 2021. Once again, the EIGHTH GRADE cover has this…cinematic quality to it that I can’t get enough of—to say nothing of all those easter eggs.

Okay! I don’t think we can hold off any longer — let’s see it!

SO awesome. WOW. How about we check it out side by side with the last book’s cover?

They look GREAT together. Now, you mentioned easter eggs. No spoilers, please — but can you tell us a bit about some of those?

Absolutely. Doctor Shrew (hamster/pet of one of the main characters) is right in the middle there—and he’s got his new little exoskeleton on! I think it looks even better than I had imagined it. There’s also a new alien character behind Becka. Pay close attention to her necklace. It’s important!

Thanks again for coming back to the Village, Josh. We appreciate it! And before we go: when does the book come out and where can readers pre-order?

EIGHTH GRADE VS. THE MACHINES will be out on October 5, 2021. You can find pre-order links in all the usual places, including IndieBound’s site, on Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. It’s also floating on Goodreads here. (PS, the paperback of SEVENTH GRADE VS. THE GALAXY is also coming out on October 5: Amazon. Barnes & Noble. IndieBound.) Thank you!

Joshua S. Levy was born and raised in Florida. After teaching middle school (yes, including seventh and eighth grade) for a little while, he went to law school. He lives with his wife and children in New Jersey, where he practices as a lawyer. Unfortunately, outer space doesn’t come up in court nearly as often as he’d like. You can find him online at and on Twitter @JoshuaSLevy.