Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn

The blurb:

A haunting dystopian novel in the vein of John Marsden from a brand new voice in Australian YA literature

For Fin, it’s just like any other day – racing for the school bus, bluffing his way through class and trying to remain cool in front of the most sophisticated girl in his universe. Only it’s not like any other day because, on the other side of the world, nuclear missiles are being detonated.

When Fin wakes up the next morning, it’s dark, bitterly cold and snow is falling. There’s no Internet, no phone, no TV, no power and no parents. Nothing Fin’s learnt in school could have prepared him for this.

With his parents missing and dwindling food and water supplies, Fin and his younger brother, Max, must find a way to survive in a nuclear winter … all on their own.

When things are at their most desperate, where can you go for help?

Anyone who watches the news, knows that there are stories about countries with nulcear weapons and the possibility of any of these bombs being detonated.  Well, in this book it happens.

Fin and brother Max are alone when disaster strikes.  In a small town in the Blue Mountains the brothers have to survive the freezing cold and the dwindling food supplies.  They live in hope that the army (or someone) will come and help them, but after one visit from a supply one comes.  When the food runs out and people are starting to get sick and turn on each other,  the brothers decide to head for the city in search of their parents.

If I were to compare it to Tomorrow When the War Began (and people will compare the two) I would say there's less action but more suspense and anticipation.  More than half of the book takes place in the Blue Mountains where everyone is waiting for help.  That might sound like it might be a bit boring and dull, but it's anything but.  As a reader you are compelled to keep reading because you need to know what happens and find out how they manage to survive.

I really enjoyed this book, and it is the sort of book that you will read in one be warned.  I did however have a few niggles in the back of my mind as I was reading with regard to the choices some characters made.  I understand that the characters are facing extreme conditions and therefore there is no right or wrong response when faced with tough choices, but there were still things that didn't ring true with me.

As well as being a really good read, there are a number of themes in this book which makes it a great choice for a class text. Themes include: family, friendship, war, courage, belonging, death, survival, ethics and spirituality.

UQP has produced Teachers' Notes if you want to take a closer look at the themes in this book.


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