Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman is a futuristic novel for MG readers with a different sort of twist. I found the world to be an interesting one and the story a perfect one to recommend to young readers.
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.
The world and concept of Sky Jumpers is one I found particularly interesting. It is post-apocolyptic but takes place in a community that is working hard to move forward with hope and rebuild what they can. This is not the typical outlook for these type of books and I appreciated that difference. The people of White Rock work communally and have competitions for inventions meant to inspire creativity and jump start their new civilization. There is still danger to be found in the way the bombs from World War III changed the atmosphere and in the bandits that roam around stealing whatever they can from the settlements that remain. The bandits in this book are dangerous, but quite possibly not dangerous enough to be realistic. For a MG book aimed at young readers this works though. The danger is real but not too horrific.
I also enjoyed the characters Edleman created. Hope is dealing with insecurities because she doesn't feel she fits into the society that has been created. She can not invent things like the others in her community. But she is brave and she knows how to strategize and those are skills that are just as necessary. Her two best friends, Aaren and Brock, complement her and round out the team nicely. Brock is a bit more two dimensional than the other two but I'm sure that will change as the series progresses.
The plot is a engaging and action filled. I was a little thrown at first by the passage of time and how the first part fast forwards days then weeks, but soon the book stuck to a more stable rhythm. This is one of those stories where the kids have to save the day when the adults can't and those are always fun.
I will certainly be reading the next book in the series when it comes out and will recommend it to my students.