Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Guest Review by Jules: Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman

Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman

Summary from Goodreads:
What happens when you can’t do the one thing that matters most?

12-year-old Hope lives in White Rock, a town struggling to recover from the green bombs of World War III. The bombs destroyed almost everything that came before, so the skill that matters most in White Rock—sometimes it feels like the only thing that matters—is the ability to invent so that the world can regain some of what it’s lost.

But Hope is terrible at inventing and would much rather sneak off to cliff dive into the Bomb’s Breath—the deadly band of air that covers the crater the town lives in—than fail at yet another invention.

When bandits discover that White Rock has invented priceless antibiotics, they invade. The town must choose whether to hand over the medicine and die from disease in the coming months or to die fighting the bandits now. Hope and her friends, Aaren and Brock, might be the only ones who can escape through the Bomb’s Breath and make the dangerous trek over the snow-covered mountain to get help.

For once, inventing isn’t the answer, but the daring and risk-taking that usually gets Hope into trouble might just save them all.

Review by Jules

4.5 stars: Loved it - enthusiastically recommend (A)

YA Post-Apocalyptic, ARC (Advanced Reader's Copy) from Publisher

This book will be released September 24, 2013.

I am excited about middle-grade author Peggy Eddleman’s debut book Sky Jumpers.  Due out on September 24th, this post-apocalyptic story is refreshing among a sea of vampires and werewolves. 
There was a clear theme to this story of playing to your strengths, a theme with which every tween out there can definitely identify.  In this post World War III environment, there are no power plants or electricity and properties of metal have changed, so much of the technology current teens take for granted no longer exists.  The community of White Rock that Sky Jumpers focuses our attention on thrives on human ingenuity and invention.  In so doing, Eddleman spotlights humanity’s resiliency rather than dwelling on the struggle to survive. This is great in theory, but main character Hope is not a great inventor, it is not one of her strengths.  When her invention doesn’t even qualify for entry into the annual Harvest Festival, she feels defeated in every way possible.
  I would put Sky Jumpers squarely in the league of childhood favorites like Hatch, My Side of the Mountain, and A Wrinkle in Time.  It’s perfect for the fifth or sixth grade reader.  The vocabulary and tension are appropriate; there is no swearing or sexual innuendo of any kind.  Hope is a strong female lead without drawing attention to the fact that she’s a twelve year old girl.  Her character could have just as easily been male which I think makes her casting all the stronger. 
I liked that while the drama wasn’t unnecessarily frightening, it was still authentic.  The good guys were clearly good and the bad guys were clearly bad; the lines of demarcation were easy to identify.  The pacing was also excellent.  The story surged forward and paused in a natural flow which kept the story moving while still giving us time to invest.  Probably most significant to me is that it has a strong ending, pulling us full circle, as Hope learns what her strengths are and is recognized for her unique contributions to her community.

Warnings: None that aren't mentioned in the review above.

Jules recommends this for 5th or 6th grade and up.  Brooke will definitely recommend it to her 12 year old daughter.

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