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Title: The Sky Inside
Author: Clare B. Dunkle
Published By: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (2008)
Synopsis: Martin lives in a perfect world.
Every year a new generation of genetically-engineered children is shipped out to meet their parents. Every spring the residents of his town take down the snow they’ve stuck to their windows and put up flowers. Every morning his family gathers around their television and votes, like everyone else, for whatever matter of national importance the president has on the table. Today, it is the color of his drapes. It’s business as usual under the protective dome of suburb HM1.
And it’s all about to come crashing down.
Because a stranger has come to take away all the little children, including Martin’s sister, Cassie, and no one wants to talk about where she has gone. The way Martin sees it, he has a choice. He can remain in the dubious safety of HM1, with danger that no one wants to talk about lurking just beneath the surface, or he can actually break out of the suburb, into the mysterious land outside, rumored to be nothing but blowing sand for miles upon miles. (Taken from Goodreads.)
Some background: I didn’t like The Hunger Games, and couldn’t get into Divergent. I am not a fan of most popular dystopians, but dystopian is my favorite genre. I was desperately looking for an actually good dystopia when I stumbled upon The Sky Inside. And while it didn’t blow me away, it definitely filfulled my expectations for a “good dystopian story.”
What did I like about it? I liked Martin’s world, and all the details associated with it. While the characters were somewhat one-dimensional, I did care about them, about what happened to Cassie and the other characters. For me, it is the details that make a dystopia, and this book was rich in descriptions and details for every last thing. I really enjoyed the way this novel portrayed kids hating having to watch television, and there were several laugh-out-loud moments for me. The mystery behind it all had me turning page after page, wondering what exactly would happen next.
On the downside, I found the plot somewhat hard to keep track of. The author’s ideas were very complex, and she seemed to have trouble describing and putting them to paper, and I found myself, on few occasions, rereading page after page to find out what exactly Martin is doing, and why. It did not affect the whole scheme of the book, but as a reader it became irritating to have to keep rereading things. The plot proved to be somewhat predictable as well.
As for Martin as a character, I felt he did not truly feel enough when things happened in his life. Also, the ending was not at all what I was wanting—or expecting. It was waaaaaaay too simple and easy. ** SPOILER ALERT ** Martin is convinced—along with us readers—that Motley, the guy who took his sister away to a “school”, has not taken her to a school, but to a place to die. So Martin embarks on this epic journey until he reaches the so-called school, and who knew? It actually was just a school, just like Motley had said. I get the idea of a plot twist, but this just seemed too simple of an answer. **SPOILER OVER**
On the other hand, though, I did like the ending in the sense that it was open for a sequel without being a cliffhanger or leaving too many things unanswered. While enough is resolved so we are content, enough is left open to be resolved in the sequel, so even though the ending is abrupt, we are satisifed. (Well, despite that sudden need to read the sequel.)
No negative content. One note: I’ve seen other people compare it to The Other Side of the Island (Allegra Goodman) and I will say, after reading the reviews, the similiarities are definitely there; however, I completely missed it during the read and it didn’t even enter my mind. I am a big fan of Island, and this didn’t even strike me as close to copying.
To summarize, even though there were things I disliked, the good things outweighed the bad things by far. Very intriguing, suspenseful, and just overall a good book!
Recommended to: If you are a dystopian-loving person like me, but you won’t take just any dystopian (example, you don’t like Hunger Games), then I’d recommend this for you. Clean, mysterious, and intriguing, I’d recommend this for 8+.