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Sky High by Helge Mahrt

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction     Format: eBook     
Publication Date: 01/09/16
Source: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


"2314. Humanity has failed to colonize space. After expanding horizontally for centuries, all of Earth is covered in one giant city. The only way left to go was up, so they built towards the sky. Then, one hundred years ago, a meteor hit Earth, annihilating a region formerly known as Europe. The death toll was staggering, but that was not all. That was when the changing began and the first Evos appeared.
With limited space for humans to live, Earth’s government instated a law to keep the population healthy and strong. The Natural Selection. Anyone found to have a hereditary mutation will be sterilized – including their children.

Mark is a Jumper, one of the few daring to take the Tubes going up and down the city. When he receives a note from his long dead father, and government agents appear on his door the next day, he is thrown into a journey that questions the very understanding of his life and the world he lives in…"

FYI: Think of the Tubes as elevator shafts, without cars, that people jump into in order to travel between levels. People travel very quickly in the Tubes, and the only thing that keeps people from going "splat" is the Tubes' ability to slow people down shortly before they reach their destinations. Couriers who have the courage to travel the Tubes are called "jumpers."


When I started reading Sky High, I did not know what to expect in terms of complexity because I have never really read books categorized as "YA science fiction." I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that the plot and setting are quite complex and intricate.

The action in the book begins almost immediately, but Mahrt manages to fill readers in on Earth's history and explain the pertinent issues before thrusting readers into the action. What explanations that the author does not give readers at the beginning of the book are included when they are relevant, without slowing the story down. 

Mahrt's writing is precise; with the complex plot and well-developed characters, the book could have easily exceeded 500 pages, but he managed to describe an intricate world and society in 215 pages. If that is not impressive enough, Mahrt provides a very satisfying end to the plot while leaving readers wanting to read more of his work. 

I liked the protagonist, Mark who is managing to work, without his mother knowing, to help with the household finances while attending school. He is an average kid caught up in a system that is set up for him to fail, and he is working hard to overcome this. I further enjoyed the twist in the plot that explains the cause of the meteor; I did not see it coming and it added an additional dimension to an already complex plot.

I think that categorizing Sky High as a "YA science fiction" novel does it a disservice. The author's language is clear and concise, which would make it easier for younger readers to comprehend; however, the plot and setting are involved enough that adult readers of science fiction would not dismiss it offhand and I will gladly recommend it to adult fans of the genre.

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