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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*A Crack in the Sky (Greenhouse Chronicles)* by Mark Peter Hughes- young readers fantasy book review
A Crack in the Sky (Greenhouse Chronicles)
by Mark Peter Hughes
Ages 11-15 416 pages Delacorte August 2010 Hardcover    

A refreshing addition to genre of dystopian adventure fiction, A Crack in the Sky is sure to make the reader stop and think about our world today, and what it could become in the future should our environment or system of government drastically.

The entire world has warmed to a point where much of the costal United States is under water; the remaining land is a hot, barren desert infested with insects. InfiniCorp, a massive private enterprise, has saved what remains of humanity by building domed cities to protect the people. In these cities, everyone has a purpose, and each person feels contented in a controlled environment wherein their thoughts are shaped using a system called CloudNet a captivating television-like program which projects images into the sky.

The main character, thirteen-year-old Eli Papadapoulos, is the grandson of the president of InfiniCorp. Eli is in a unique position: he is educated at home by his personal robot (rather than being sent off to work like most children his age), training to become a future leader of InfiniCorp. Eli is given a special pet, a mongoose named Marilyn who has a special chip implanted in her brain that makes her extraordinarily bright, giving her powers to communicate with Eli and eventually to manipulate electronic devices.

Enjoying a close relationship with his grandfather, Eli is loyal to his family but begins to question their world when he notices an irregularity in the sky. The major supporting character, Tabitha, works for InfiniCorp, but she has had contact with the people who live outside the dome. Although her loyalties are also torn, she knows that the situation outside the domes is grim; the world is heating up and the end may well be near. Eli and Tabitha eventually meet after they are sent to a rehabilitation facility for wayward employees on an isolated, refurbished oil rig.

The first book in The Greenhouse Chronicles, A Crack in the Sky is a compelling novel which is difficult to put down. Tamer than many books in this genre in terms of language and violence, its themes are actually bit more mature, leading the reader to reconsider not only the environment but also the role of conglomerate corporations, mass media and individual freedom.

The pace is fast, a science fiction novel with a strong sense of mystery as Eli and Tabitha work together to discover what is really happening in their world. Finally, the apocalyptic theme (proposing that Eli may be the savior), although not fully expressed in this first book, offers an element of optimism to an otherwise desperate situation.

The unexpected ending leaves the reader with just a glimmer of hope within a world of despair and destruction. Highly recommended.
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  Kristine Wildner/2010 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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