The Sky Inside - Clare B. Dunkle

"Most importantly, we will spend our time outside of school each day watching our television sets. Through judicious programming and advertising, our government notifies us of wholesome products, and we spend our money on them to keep our country strong. During recess, we will sing rhymes from the latest commercials..."

Martin Glass lives in suburb HM1, a domed structure built to protect its inhabitants from the blowing sand and poisonous gases outside. The suburb is connected to others by rails on which packet cars travel to deliver goods and remove waste. Martin and his classmates don't know exactly what happened to force the population into these domed suburbs, but they all know that they were the lucky ones, the ones who survived, the ones who have a wonderful life now.

The citizens of the suburbs vote via their TVs, at 7:15 in the morning, about things like the color of the curtains in the President's office. By 7:30, the votes are tallied and a decision is made. Things run smoothly because of robotic helpers that do much of the manual labor; but so that people don't lose their jobs, workers lease robots to do their jobs for them; this way they continue to earn income to spend to support the economy.

And then there are the Wonder Babies. Martin's sister Cassie among them, these are genetically engineered kids that are brilliant and thus completely ostracized at school. Not even the teachers can stand them, so they team-teach each other, led by an eight-year-old named Jimmy. Of course, in a world where you shouldn't ask too many questions, the inquisitive Wonder Babies become a problem. When the first outside visitor HM1 has ever had arrives to take all the Wonder Babies to a special school Martin is naturally suspicious and takes matters into his own hands.

It's a quick book, kind of a mix of "The Truman Show" and "Gattaca" with more than a hint of 1984 too. The writing is much better than the stock-photo-cobbled cover art. The characters aren't especially deep, but this book is more about the story: what happened outside the domes, and the inevitable conspiracies that crop up in a book of this nature. I enjoyed it as a light read between longer books.

Fed to jonathan's brain | May 14, 2008 | Comments (0)


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