Plot: America has been made virtually inhabitable by bombings. The only thing keeping the cities running and the skyships afloat are the mysterious pearls: balls of energy falling from space. Two factions, the Unified government and the Skyships that float above it, vie for the pearls and for what remains of America. Jesse and Cassius are two boys caught in the middle of this conflict. When they meet, they cause a reaction in each other and seem to develop strange powers. They discover that they have been lied to all their lives and the mystery of their origins and their powers is tightly linked to the pearls.
This was my 100th novel of 2011!
James’ debut novel is an exciting sci-fi adventures. The chapters are short and the action is fast paced. Fans of the Maze Runner will enjoy it. The mystery of the pearls is an interesting one and the resolution surprised me. That being said, the book had its problems. The world building didn’t impress me: the politics lacked subtlety and James constantly resorts to similes and descriptions that make no sense in the context (ex. Would a boy who grew up on a spaceship compare anything to a kennel? Would he know what a skunk smells like?). It’s as if he keeps forgetting that Cassius and Jesse are not regular boys living in 2011 America and it really took me out of the story.
I didn’t get particularly attached to the main characters either. Cassius is a bit of an arrogant jerk and Jesse is whiny (plus there is only so many times I can hear a guy complain about being saved by a girl before I start to actively dislike him). Neither is particularly witty. Maybe they’ll grow on me as the series progresses but it hasn’t happened yet.
If you want a really great novel about post-apocalytic America staring powerful teens pitted against each other by a corrupt government read Legend by Marie Lu.
Challenges: 2011 Debut author challenge (9), Futuristic/Sci-Fi Challenge (11)