by Peggy Eddleman
First sentence: “You would think I’d never jumped off a cliff before, based on how long I stood there.”
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Review copy snagged from the ARC shelves at my place of employment.
Content: There are some intense moments, but other than that, it’s pretty tame. It’s shelved in the middle grade (3-5th grade) section of the bookstore.
It’s a future after World War III, which devastated the world. The scientists thought they were doing good in creating “green” bombs, but (because, you know, BOMBS) it still wiped out many cities and destroyed most of the population. In addition, they changed the properties of metal and magnets, and while they made some ground more fertile, it made other places toxic. And — perhaps worst of all — it created the Bomb’s Breath: pockets of air that if you breathe, it’ll kill you.
This is the world that Hope has grown up in.
Living with her adoptive parents in White Rock, a town in a fertile valley, she has discovered that the thing that is most highly prized is Inventing. Since the war destroyed all our technology, it’s up to everyone, really, to invent gadgets and come up with ideas to make life less, well, primitive. Except Hop is terrible at it. What she’s good at is being daring: she’s figured out that if you hold your breath in the Bomb’s Breath you won’t die and that the thicker air has a slowing quality to it. She has taking to jumping off cliffs (sans parachute) through the Bomb’s Breath for fun. (No, she didn’t ask permission.)
Then, one day in winter, some bandits infiltrate their previously safe town and take hostages, demanding access to the town’s one true commodity: the antibiotic they’ve developed. The only hope for the town — since their guard and the weapons are guarding the next town over — is to go fetch the guard back. And the only way to do this is to go over the mountain and through the Bomb’s Breath. And the only one who can do this is Hope.
I’m a bit torn on this one.
On the one hand: I love Eddleman’s take on the dystopian genre. It’s so overdone that it really needs something unique to grab my interest. And Eddleman did just that. I also liked how Hope was a fierce girl, taking the initiative in spite of her misgivings, and using her strengths to not only get the guard but also help outwit the bandits.
On the other hand: I’m not sure. It’s not something I can pinpoint, but I felt disconnected from the book the entire time. Like I was on the outside, looking in, rather than being grabbed and immersed into the world. Perhaps I was turned off by the BOOK ONE on the back of my ARC. I don’t know if it’s truly going to be a series — this one wrapped up just fine — but the idea of that just set me on edge. I really am so tired of series books.
I shouldn’t let that prejudice interfere with my reading of this one, though. It was a good book. One that I think will appeal to both genders. And there’s a lack of “magic” that was refreshing as well; Hope got by on her wits and her ingenuity and her reliance on her friends. I can get behind that.
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I’ve been asked to make sure y’all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)