Author: Claire Zorn
Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Star Rating: 5/5
Date Read: August 18th, 2014
Read Count: 1
Thank you to University of Queensland Press for providing a copy of this book. This did not influence my review in any way.
Claire Zorn has just become a must-buy author for me. First The Protected, and now The Sky So Heavy, colour me impressed! The Sky So Heavy is an apocalyptic novel set in the Blue Mountains. Not post-apocalyptic – it is happening as we read! Our hero is Fin – seventeen years old, just your average teenage guy, bluffing his way through class and through interactions with Lucy, who leaves him weak at the knees. There is talk of nuclear testing that day when he’s at school, but he never expects to find himself in the middle of a nuclear winter. Suddenly, there’s no power, no water and only limited supplies of food. With his dad unable to get home and his mum unreachable at her Government job in the city, it’s up to Fin to look out for younger brother Max and try to find a way to get them through this, together with Lucy and the unpopular Arnold Wong who Fin had never spoken to other than in jeers before now. Four kids, alone, and just trying to survive.
Reminiscent of Tomorrow, When The War Began (which I also loved), The Sky So Heavy was an instant hit for me. I read it in a day and was utterly consumed by it. A couple of chapters in and I started to wonder how much canned food we had at home. Half the book in and I was developing my survival plan. Then, too wrapped up in Fin’s world, I couldn’t think of anything else. I think what made it so compelling was the fact that it feels like it could happen tomorrow. Overnight. Just like that.
The characters were well developed and while not always likeable, both they and their actions were realistic. Fin is forced to doubt his life and his choices, Lucy was intelligent and a bit of a badass especially with a cricket bat, Max was maturing and slowly growing up while a part of him still wants to be a kid, and Noll was trying to hold on to his faith. I loved the relationship between Fin and Max, and the way Fin took over a parent role for Max – he really stepped up even when it was difficult. Fin and Lucy’s developing relationship was sweet and kind of sad too, considering all that was happening, and regarding that I especially loved this line: “I know you don’t need me to, but I will protect you” and the fact that he recognises she can stand on her own two feet. I love that she confronts him when she thinks he’s leaving her out of dangerous trips because she’s girl or that she can’t hold her own. And he apologises and then changes his attitude. It’s so great to read and so rare!
As I closed the book, I wondered to myself, does this need a sequel? And while I would love to know what happened to the characters, I think this works perfectly well as a standalone. I didn’t want to give them up just yet, but at the same time I was kind of glad to finish because I was on edge the whole time I was reading. But it was a bloody good read that I really enjoyed and I’m looking forward to what comes next from Claire Zorn.