What if the only world you ever knew had a sky that was always blue, with puffy white clouds that never moved? What if every house on every street was exactly the same? What if your pets, your food, even your little sister arrived in a shipment from the dangerous, mysterious outside world—a world you had never seen? That's what life is like for Martin. He and his family have lived their entire lives in a domed "suburb," where neighbors gather for Sport Day and enjoy big meals (automatically selected by their slot-machine oven) on Rest Day. Their identical townhouses are decorated with pictures of seasonal flowers, and their school day is made up of endless drills conducted on handheld computers. Every morning, his parents use the family computer to vote on an issue of national concern, such as the color of the Oval Office's drapes.
Life in the suburb might seem orderly, but there's a darker side. What happens to the people who suddenly disappear? And why is the government threatening to recall the latest batch of Wonder Children, the precocious kids—like Martin's sister Cassie—who are asking too many questions? Martin might not have all the answers, but he is fiercely loyal to his sister, and he's determined to find her, even if it means leaving the domed world he's always known.
Clare B. Dunkle, author of the popular Hollow Kingdom fantasy trilogy, has created a richly imagined, thoroughly frightening society. Her novel takes place in a world much like our own, and its characters have believable strengths and weaknesses. Offering insightful commentaries into today's society and raising challenging questions about the future, The Sky Inside is the kind of science fiction novel that will encourage young readers to think about—and discuss—some of the larger issues in their own lives.
Norah Piehl is a writer and editor in the Boston area.