Title: Sky Jumpers (Sky Jumpers #1)
Author: Peggy Eddleman
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Release Date: 24th September 2013
Genre: Middle-Grade, post-Apocalyptic
Page Count: 288 (paperback)
Hope is the only person in her town who can’t invent, a much-needed skill after the green bombs of World War III destroyed everything above the surface and changed the world forever. But Hope is brave, a leader, and has amazing physical skills she hones by jumping into the Bomb’s Breath, a deadly band of compressed air leftover by the bombs that covers her crater-valley. When bandits attack her town and demand the only cure for a deadly disease, it’s up to Hope to escape over the mountain through the Bomb’s Breath and find help for her people.
Sky Jumpers was an incredible, amazing book. I don’t normally read Middle Grade because I find it too childish for my YA-preferred brain, but even from Hope’s 12 year old point of view the book was amazing. It had the most phenomenal world building and character voice, a big cast of characters (not all of them three dimensional, but Hope was, and that’s what’s important), heaps of action when the plot finally did kick in at about halfway, and in the mean time a very solid world history and setting.
Even though the plot did take a while to kick in, I really enjoyed reading about Hope’s life in her valley and learning all about the history of the world and meeting the other characters. Everything that happened previously to the plot actually kicking in was important to the plot (the inventing display where Hope fails miserably, collecting the cure for the deadly disease) or showed an important aspect of Hope’s character (her fearlessness, her leadership skills), and it contributed to the plot.
I was initially very confused about what exactly the Bomb’s Breath was. Maybe I missed some detail that explained it better, because I loved the book so much I tended to read ahead and had to keep reminding myself to slow down and read everything. I knew it was deadly compressed air that kills a person the instant they inhale it, but I couldn’t figure out if it was an isolated incident in a blow-hole like are (similar to what the cover shows)or what it was.
It turns out it’s actually a layer of compressed air that hovers over the crater/valley where Hope’s town is built, and to jump into it you first have to walk through it up the valley. The compression works by making the air heavier (and some other stuff explained in the book), so although you can’t breathe it, you can float through it and safely jump into it from a great height. I actually had to Google ‘bomb’s breath’ in the hope of finding the author’s hypothetical ‘inspiration’ Pinterest board (seriously, authors, you should do this when you have a difficult concept) but instead I found this image which for some reason made it all click:
This was also a strong feminist novel in that Hope’s sexuality or femaleness was NEVER mentioned. She could have been a male character (but I wouldn’t have read the book if she was, because there are already heaps of stories about male heroes and not enough about female heroes). There was absolute minimal romance (a crush is mentioned and discarded) and Hope’s femaleness didn’t preclude her from doing anything amazing or taking on the bad guys. Nothing was sexist. No one called her out on being a girl. It was really refreshing to see that. She was just as physically capable of anything her two male companions were capable of, and probably more so.
Even though I’m not normally a MG reader, I thought this book was all sorts of amazing and I highly recommend it to other YA readers who don’t mind a bit of a more childish voice at times. Or if you’re a parent, you should get this book for your kid: because of the way it’s written, with an active, daredevil female lead with no romance, I believe it can be equally enjoyed by girls and boys alike.
Thanks to Random House and Netgalley for providing this advanced reader copy for an honest review.