March 04, 2009

The Wondering World

Martin's life is... decent. He runs with his friends and they play games, they hate school, but have to sit through it, plugged in to their handhelds, downloading information every half hour. Things are predictable -- Dad goes to work each day, and Mom makes nifty experiments for dinner each night -- but life isn't supposed to be exciting or different. The TV has all the answers anyone will ever need. Only it's too bad no one told Claire.

Claire is Martin's little sister. She's a Wonder Baby. Or, she was. Now she's a wonder-girl. The Wonder Babies were a marvelous experiment. They were designed to be perfect kids, to help raise themselves. Only, the adults don't like that. They hate how independent Wonder Babies are, how smart they are, and how they ask so many questions. In a world where everyone lives sealed under a dome, things like, "What's a robin?" are the wrong things to ask. No one knows anymore, and the not-knowing makes them nervous, then sad, then hostile, all in one go.

The Wonder Babies are harassed, constantly, and practically answer to the name "freak." But the day somebody crosses the line, Martin takes a stand. Nobody should be beating up on little kids, even if they are freakishly smart. Martin starts to care -- for the first time -- about someone other than himself. He starts to wonder things, to ask questions, and with his robotic dog at his side, he begins to find answers.

But it turns out that Martin's questions come too late. The message has already come down from the top -- the Wonder Babies are to be rounded up and taken away.

The experiment has ended.

Younger fans of dystopia might find Clare B. Dunkle's The Sky Inside a first bite of a world of "what ifs." Older readers may find that not enough of the questions of "what if" are answered for them, but this is a good "survey of dystopia" book that combines some of the The City of Ember ideas, as well as themes from The Giver, and allows young readers to really think about what makes a perfect world, and what it would be like to live there. Martin is a believable, lovable thirteen-year-old readers will want to see win through the obstacles that face him.

Buy The Sky Inside from an independent bookstore near you!

1 comment:

a. fortis said...

I think I read about this on Jen's blog and wanted to read it! It reminds me a little of an Andre Norton book (was it called Outside?) that I read ages ago.