I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Series: Sky Jumpers #1
Published by Random House on September 24, 2013
Genres: Dystopia, Middle Grade
Buy the Book • Goodreads
What happens when you can't do the one thing that matters most? Twelve-year-old Hope Toriella lives in White Rock, a town of inventors struggling to recover from the green bombs of World War III. But Hope is terrible at inventing and would much rather sneak off to cliff dive into the Bomb's Breath—the deadly band of compressed air that covers the crater left by the bombs—than fail at yet another invention. When bandits discover that White Rock has priceless antibiotics, they invade. With a two-day deadline to finish making this year's batch and no ingredients to make more, the town is left to choose whether to hand over the medicine and die from the disease that's run rampant since the bombs, or die fighting the bandits now. Help lies in a neighboring town, but the bandits count everyone fourteen and older each hour. Hope and her friends—Aaron and Brock—might be the only ones who can escape to make the dangerous trek through the Bomb's Breath and over the snow-covered mountain. Inventing won't help her make it through alive, but with Aaron and Brock's help, the daring and recklessness that usually gets her into trouble might just save them all.
This was a fantastic middle-grade book. It was full of action, strong characters, an adventure with high stakes, parents that care, and a happy ending. While I would say this is targeted more towards female readers (because our main character is a strong and independent girl) it’s easily accessible for male readers as well because the story is so full of action and is definitely not what I would call “girly”.
Sky Jumpers is set in a dystopian-esque future, sometime after World War III. The world has been bombed, leaving some parts of the world unlivable. The town where Hope and her friends live is surrounded by air that is thick with poison. When we first meet Hope, she is diving off a cliff, through the poisoned air, and landing safely on the ground. Right away we get a sense of the dare-devil, brave personality of Hope. This is an essential characteristic of Hope, and it’s always nice to see the female characters being the dare-devils too.
In Hope’s town, there is an emphasis placed on inventing, rather than bravery, and unfortunately Hope isn’t an inventor at all. She tries, but inevitably, she fails. Her best friend, Aaron, is the champion of inventing in her grade level, but that’s not enough to save the town when strangers arrive and start threatening everyone. Instead, it is up to Hope to be Brave and bring back help. What follows is a race to the next town over, with bandits chasing Hope and her friends, and then a race back to save the town and the town’s life-saving medicine. Luckily, Hope is brave enough to do what needs to be done.
The writing in this book was terrific for the average middle grade reader, there were a few words that could be seen as challenging, but not too many at all, and otherwise was easy enough to read. The descriptions were not as vivid as I would have liked, but they were vivid enough for a younger reader. The pacing was quick, and led from one adventure to the next without leaving much time at all for a younger reader to grow bored, which is always nice to see in books for this age.
I really enjoyed this book, though I’m curious about where the series is going. It seemed wrapped up nicely for the end of a stand along book, but it’s listed as the first in a series. It should be interesting to see what happens next!