Sky Jumpers – Peggy Eddleman
Twelve-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: Sky Jumpers is a post-apocalyptic middle grade novel about a group of cliff diving twelve-year-olds who need to save their town from invading bandits.
The narrator is a kickass heroine named Hope. She’s a natural leader with a passion for competitions and physical activity. There’s no challenge she won’t accept. She isn’t afraid to climb tall trees or jump from the cliffs that surround her home. Her classmates are drawn to her because of her athletic talents and leadership abilities. Unfortunately, her desire to push the limits often gets her in trouble.
With a narrator like Hope, this book does not lack action. The excitement starts on page 1 and rarely slows down. The quick pacing and spirited characters can easily hold the attention of young readers. Peggy Eddleman does an amazing job of capturing the voice of a twelve-year-old and making Hope relatable.
As an adult-aged reader, I have a few issues with the book. If you are a lover of science fiction, you may have to suspend your disbelief. A lot. The science and the actions of the adult characters aren’t always logical. These problems most likely won’t bother young readers, though.
This book is action-packed, but the main plot takes a long time to get started. The first half of the story is mostly just world building and character development. The world building is fascinating, but the story feels a bit directionless until the bandits finally show up. After the bandits overrun the town, the action really takes off. Unfortunately, some of the action scenes are difficult to picture. There is a map of the town in the front of the book, but it didn’t help me very much.
I also have a problem with the whole “inventing” aspect. The leaders of Hope’s town force all of its citizens to create inventions that will improve the lives of the townspeople. Hope seems to be the only person in town who has trouble inventing. Even the five-year-olds are genius inventers. Anyone who can’t invent is looked down upon. This does tie in to the story’s “Find your strengths” theme, but it comes across as unrealistic and heavy-handed.
The best part of this book is its theme. There is a lot for readers to take away from the story. Hope learns that everybody has different strengths and weaknesses. The challenge is figuring out how to use your strengths to accomplish your goals.
Sky Jumpers is book #1 of a trilogy (I think?). I really enjoyed seeing this post-apocalyptic world from Hope’s point-of-view, but I probably will not continue reading the series.