Synopsis from Goodreads:
What happens when you can’t do the one thing that matters most?
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.
As a result of foraying into Middle Grade less frequently than I would like, past reading experiences have left me with an unshakable impression of Middle Grade being slower paced, with fairly straightforward narratives, and readers sometimes being talked down to by adult authors. If all Middle Grade novels were like Sky Jumpers, my impression would disappear really quickly. While I would say that Sky Jumpers took it’s time introducing the characters and explaining some of the science behind the Bomb’s Breath prior to any major action occurring, the majority of the novel was fairly fast paced, the back story complex, and there was absolutely no talking down.
I was a big fan of Hope’s character from the beginning. She’s spunky, not necessarily predictable, and just downtrodden enough to be a relatable underdog without being underestimated by the reader. I was also a big fan the friendships between Hope, Aaren and Brock. The three have to rely on each other’s skills and strengths to not only keep each other safe, but to save their town. I really appreciated such strong and unique characters that genuinely liking and supporting each other.
My one big issue with the novel was the probability and/or realism of certain events (and I’m not talking the sci-fi elements). Hope figuring out that she can survive within the Bomb’s Breath by simply holding her breath seemed rather far-fetched to me. Similarly, the idea that three inexperienced hikers with little to no gear would be able to navigate a big stretch of land during a blizzard while caring for a small child, seemed entirely unlikely. These improbable events pulled me a bit from the story, but I don’t necessarily believe that other readers looking for an entertaining adventure story will share my issues with the improbabilities.
Overall, Sky Jumpers had the perfect amount of suspense and intrigue to keep readers of all ages invested in the story. I stayed interested even throughout my issues with improbabilities because the characters are strong, interesting, and easy to root for. I can see Middle Grade readers flocking to the series because of the highly relatable characters and the combined sci-fi and action appeal.
*** I received a copy of the novel from the publisher to read and honestly review. I was in no way compensated.