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Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman – review
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.
What I expected: I really expected something more in the way of future science fiction rather than what I got. Do not get me wrong, I like science fiction or I wouldn’t have picked it up. I believe the cover was the biggest draw for me. And, naturally because I rarely consider the back cover blurbs to be of any import, I barely skimmed that – only noting that the main character was a young female and needed to do something to help her community.
What I got: I clearly got way more than I expected. Not only was this a post-apocalyptic story (how did I miss that tidbit?) but it was not anything like I expected. This was a much smaller story on a community scale where a young girl finally realizes that it is not necessarily a bad thing to not be skilled or interested in the subject and jobs that are expected of her, and that she can help out her community by with other skills that come more naturally to her.
What I liked: I really liked that this was a small community story – the actual events and discoveries would eventually become important to other communities, but the action affects a small area rather than, say, the entire planet. I also liked that part of the big struggle for the main character is that she really wanted to be helpful and make the community proud of her but was not having success with the standard ways of doing so. I liked that she learned an important lesson about the consequences of her actions. I also really liked the variety of characters and the way they were portrayed.
What I did not: My biggest issue was with a certain blizzard scene – it felt a bit too unlikely and improbable to me but in the heat of the story it never bothered me all that much. I also had some doubts as to several of the technical aspects of their isolation – but as I am not even close to having specific knowledge on the polarization of magnets and the density of certain molecules, that could be suspended in air indefinitely – I wrote all of it off to literary license and moved on. While I did have these minor doubts in the back of my mind, they never interfered with my enjoyment of the story, mostly because the story was about Hope and the lessons she learns about people, herself and the world around her, not about why she lives the way she lives.
Cover Talk: I really liked this cover. It attracted me right away and made me interested in the book. Aesthetically, I cannot really say that I like the image, but it sure draws the eye and makes the prospective reader interested.
Recommendation: I recommend this book to middle grade readers of all ages. Additionally, anyone who has enjoyed Patricia Wrede’s Frontier Magic series will most definitely be interested in this one as well.