Reading Level: Middle Grade
Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopia
Size: 288 pages
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Sky Jumpers series
Source: ARC through Amazon Vine
Rating: 4/5 stars
I got a copy of this book to review through the Amazon Vine program. It was a well done middle grade adventure/dystopia and I enjoyed it.
Twelve year old Hope lives in White Rock. Most of the world was destroyed by Green Bombs of World War III. Humanity is struggling to rebuild itself and because of this nothing is valued more in the city of White Rock than the ability to invent. Hope is horrible at inventing and would much rather dive through the deadly green clouds left over from the Green Bombs. However, when bandits threaten White Rock and their supply of precious antibiotic, Hope’s skill to be daring and resourceful ends up coming in very handy.
This is a well done middle grade adventure/dystopia read. I enjoyed reading it, there is some creative world building here and the characters are easy to engage with. It’s a pretty short story and the writing style is a bit more simple and basic than some middle grade reads out there. It also takes the story a bit to get going.
Hope is a good character, but similar to many middle grade characters out there. She doesn’t fit in and has trouble doing what is expected of her, she is daring and has excellent leadership skills, but can’t invent things. Basically the story is about Hope finding a way to use her strengths for the benefit of society and about Hope learning to accept who she is.
The side characters are very much side characters. They were pretty simple and pretty stereotypical. Hope’s best friend, Aaron, is an inventing genius. Her other friend, Brock, is a bit of a mysterious outcast. The side characters were done well enough but fairly forgettable.
The plot is also very typical of dystopian books. Hope and her community have a good thing going on, that is until the evil outsiders come and ruin their lives. There are issues with lack of resources, illness, and humanity struggling to gain back the knowledge it lost when most humans were killed in World War III.
Probably the strongest aspect of this book is the unique world. The idea of Green Bombs, bombs that were supposed to destroy people but not nature, is very interesting. The deadly green gas that lingers and provides a natural barrier against humans for the town of White Rock is a neat idea. The whole explanation as to what triggered World War III is a bit nebulous and the kids in the book obviously take their way of life for granted. That is to say they ask some questions about the green gas and the war, but not many because they are kids and kind of live in the present.
Overall it was a decent middle grade post-apocalyptic dystopia novel. Nothing was outstanding but everything was well done. The characters are pretty stereotypical as is the plot. The idea of a world plagued by the residual of a Green Bomb is a very unique and interesting one and is what really makes this book worth reading. I would recommend as a good entry into the dystopian genre for younger readers. Those who have read tons and tons of dystopian fiction, like myself, probably won’t find much food for thought or really anything to get all that excited about.