Sky Jumpers: Book 1

Book review by
Blair Jackson, Common Sense Media
Sky Jumpers: Book 1 Book Poster Image
Tween girl risks life to save town in gripping future tale.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The book's portrait of a society devoid of any technology that came after the machine age and the Industrial Revolution shows how people can use their ingenuity to invent the things they need to survive. It also shows a small government in action and explains the mechanics of a group of people governing themselves.

Positive Messages

Believe in yourself and trust your instincts; don't let others' opinions about your weaknesses keep you down. Loyalty to family and friends is paramount. Sometimes, the biggest risks reap the biggest rewards. Love is a powerful motivator.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character, 12-year-old Hope Toriella, may not have the best self-image (because she's not good at creating inventions her town needs), but, when a crisis happens, she shows what a selfless, brave, and devoted daughter, friend, and townsperson she is. She risks her own life to save her father and her community and suffers formidable hardships on her incredible journey to find help in a neighboring town. She's also honest with her parents at a point when fibbing or saying nothing would have been an easier way out of a tough situation.

Violence & Scariness

Violent bandits invade the isolated community of White Rock and shoot Hope's father in the thigh, smack Hope in the face, threaten everyone, and take most of the town hostage. There are intense chases that involve mild violence. One child falls off a roof, resulting in his shirt being "covered in blood." There are a few guns brandished and fired as well as slingshots and bows and arrows. 


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sky Jumpers is the first in a postapocalyptic series for tweens. Set in North Dakota after World War III has wiped out most of civilization and rendered its few remaining inhabitants unable to produce electricity or create fossil fuels for vehicles, it's a taut, exciting adventure with a number of mildly violent episodes in the second half: Bandits shoot the father of 12-year-old protagonist Hope Toriella in the thigh and smack her in the face; later they chase Hope relentlessly as she risks her life to save her father and her town. But the violence is not graphic, and the threat of violence is more pervasive. Parts of Sky Jumpers might remind some readers of The Hunger Games, but the violence and intensity here does not approach the level of that trilogy, which is aimed at slightly older readers. Sky Jumpers ​also is a coming-of-age book, as Hope comes face to face with her own weaknesses and limitations but in the process discovers reservoirs of strength and character she didn't know she had. 

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What's the story?

A devastating global war fought with non-radioactive "green bombs" has wiped out most of the world and left the few tiny remaining clusters of people unable to produce electricity or sophisticated machinery. In White Rock, N.D., a community of 917 people built by survivors in one of the enormous bomb craters rimmed by noxious gas clouds knows as Bomb's Breath, the entire population, from childhood on, is obsessed with creating inventions to help advance what's essentially a preindustrial society. Twelve-year-old Hope Toriella never fares well at the annual inventor's competition, but she's brave: Unbeknownst to her parents and all but one friend, she enjoys holding her breath and diving from cliffs through the poisonous patches of Bomb's Breath that give jumpers the pleasing sensation of drifting and floating through the pressurized air. One badly timed breath, however, and she'd be dead. But Hope's courage is tested when bandits threaten to kill everyone in White Rock unless they get the town's entire supply of rare and invaluable antibiotics. With the community held hostage, Hope and her friend Aaren slip away -- followed by Aaren's 5-year-old sister, Brenna -- to get help from the nearest town many miles away, traveling through Bomb's Breath and over steep hills in the dark of night.

Is it any good?

Peggy Eddleman's SKY JUMPERS is a different sort of postapocalyptic tale. There's almost no technology left on earth, and the town of White Rock, ND, where the story's set, is largely agrarian, with more horses than machines. Eddleman does a fine job of painting a vivid picture of this town and the surrounding landscape and of the passionate and committed settlers who are trying to build a comfortable new world in this remote and desolate land. Eddleman also knows how to spin a good action yarn: The harrowing journey that Hope, her friend Aaren, and Aaren's little sister, Brenna, make in the last third of the book is tense and exciting.

Sky Jumpers should be a relatively easy read for most kids in the 8 to 12 range, and, though Hope is the narrator and thus the center of the action, this is not a "girls' book" in the way many YA books are. Boys should be equally captivated by the gripping story and Hope's monumental struggles against (bad) men and nature.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it would be like to live in a future without modern technology -- no cell phones, TV, or electronics on any kind. What would you and your friends do for fun?

  • Can you think of an invention you could design and create that could help the people of White Rock?

  • Do you think that Hope was right to admit to her parents that she'd disobeyed them by jumping into the poisonous Bomb's Breath?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love adventure and strong female characters

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