Review: Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman

Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman (Expected Publication September 2013, Random House)

Note:  An advanced reader copy was provided by the publisher.

Futuristic fiction set on Earth after World War III has destroyed most of civilization.  I bet the word that immediately came to mind was  “dystopia”.  Riding the wave of Hunger Games interest, there have been no end to the stories of oppressive societies, dark futures and technology run amok.   Sky Jumpers isn’t any of those things.  What we have here instead is a story that is pure post apocalyptic adventure.

 The citizens of White Rock enjoy one of the few safe bastions of civilized life that are left on the WWIII ravaged landscape.  The Green Bombs that were released destroyed buildings and human life, and left pockets of super dense Oxygen molecules that can kill any creature who tries to breathe within such a pocket.  While the environment is rich and fertile, technology has all but vanished from people’s lives.    The people of White Rock are slowly trying to rebuild parts of that lost technology and society by inventing–or reinventing devices that can help improve lives.  Every White Rock citizen is expected to contribute to the invention process, down to the youngest school children.

Twelve year old Hope wishes she were good at inventing.  She’s tried time and time again to create something for her school project, only to fail in disastrous and dramatic fashion.   She yearns to make her parents proud of her but can’t seem to do anything right.  The only things she’s any good at is jumping through the huge pocket of  “Bomb’s Breath” that lies outside her town.  By holding her breath, she can jump into the super dense air and have it slow her fall so she can do all sorts of tricks and land safely.  When raiders manage to take over the town and demand their precious  antibiotic supply, Hope’s ability to get through the Bomb’s Breath safely may be their only salvation.  Hope escapes with her friends on a daring and dangerous mission to get help before time runs out!

Peggy Eddleman delivers an action-packed adventure tale with a strong and likable female protagonist.  Rather than an overbearing or oppressive society, Hope’s town of White Rock comes across as a fairly egalitarian place.  Picture a frontier town style of setting, where the citizens are constantly working to keep their town protected and productive and you might have a clearer picture of White Rock.  That’s not to say the author hasn’t created a satisfying science fiction story!  This is a great book for introducing younger readers to this style of science fiction.  Kids not ready for the dark revelations of The Giver or the violence of The Hunger Games will be able to sink their teeth into this story.   Hope’s struggle is a relevant one to any reader–the desire to do something that her family can be proud of–and the need to be herself.

It seems that this book may be the first in a series, but the story wraps up nicely by the last chapter, so readers won’t be left hanging.  I’ll be curious to see where Ms. Eddleman takes her characters in the next story.   As I mentioned, the story is on the lighter side, and will work best for 3rd and 4th grade readers who are just beginning to try science fiction.   It does not have the complexity or sophistication of something like The Hunger Games trilogy–and I’m just as glad it doesn’t.   This fits soundly into the world of middle grade fiction, and gives younger readers the foundations of good science fiction.  Unlike the action-adventure video game quality of many alien invasion and superhero stories, this will engage readers’ imagination and have them asking “what if?”

I do have to grumble about the cover a little.  It’s not that the cover isn’t an interesting one, but it’s a little inaccurate.  It appears to show our characters diving into a lightning and mountain clad landscape as if they will fly over it. I would have preferred something that felt more true to the actual story.  Still, a  great read for the right audience.  I’ll be looking for more from this author.

Read-alike suggestions:

 The Dream Catcher by Monica Hughes (Atheneum, 1986)

Tomorrow’s Magic by Pamela Service (Random House, c1988)

Publisher: Random House

Expected Publication Date:September  2013   

ISBN13:   9780307981271

Recommended for grades 3 and up.

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About Stephanie Whelan

I'm a children's librarian with a life-long love of all things science fiction and fantasy.

Posted on July 28, 2013, in General Posts, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

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