Sky’s End

Peachtree Teen/Peachtree/. (Above the Black). Jan. 2024. 416p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781682635766.
Gr 8 Up–Dueling cane in hand, 16-year-old Conrad fights to provide for his sickly mother after the death of his father sent the pair tumbling down the rungs of the Meritocracy in disgrace. When a metallic sky serpent decimates Conrad’s home, killing his mother, he finds himself embroiled in the machinations of his uncle: the man who is responsible for their misfortune and who has kept custody of Conrad’s sister, Ella. Striving for unassailable social status, Conrad is selected as a Hunter, where he struggles to overcome his mistrust of others in order to survive the frequently deadly training and succeed as a leader. With a writing style and plot presentation that hails back to Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron, Conrad’s story religiously adheres, beat by beat, to the formula readers have come to expect from young adult dystopian books. This allows the plot to move quickly, eschewing extended explanations in favor of high-octane scenes filled with metal-clad creatures and occasional high-drama interpersonal character clashes. However, this pacing and narrative focus results in a muddled overall plot, since it is not conducive to satisfactorily conveying the complexity of the Meritocracy, a society which has two simultaneously parallel and intersecting social hierarchies. Conrad and other primary characters are not presented as a particularly diverse crew and a general white default is adhered to.
VERDICT Not a priority purchase, but a fun addition to collections serving teens in their vintage dystopian era.

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