‘The Sky so Heavy’ by Claire Zorn

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

There is something about a book that hits too close to home that makes reading uncomfortable. And

Photo by Peychaud

Photo by Peychaud

I’m not talking about emotionally, or intellectually or situation-wise – I mean an Australian book that name drops shopping centres. It makes me feel ill.  I’m not sure if Americans or the English feel the same way. I feel like they don’t. They have had centuries to get over their home towns being named dropped, their shopping centres globalised, and their plant life used for literary scenery. In Australia we basically only just came out of the water and evolved into hotties last year. We don’t have many books written about us – and the ones we do and shoved down our throats by every proud Australian, trying to convince their youth that: ‘Hey, we matter too, see!!! It’s in this actual-published-book!’

Get out of my face.

Some Australian books do it right. Tomorrow when the War Began, Seven Little Australians, Deadly Unna? And some do it extremely wrong. At a first glance I thought this would be one of those books. An awful – hey lets go to Westfield after school – instead of hey let’s go to the shops after school. It started off that way and I thought to myself – this will not be a fun night for me. Then it got good.

The Sky so Heavy got real pretty fast. It’s a dystopian fiction, set in Australia. We don’t have anything but dystopian here because we are a depressive people… Or violent. Pretty much sad or mad describes most Australians. Anyway – some bombs go off somewhere and suddenly everything shuts down. No power. No internets. No water. Then it starts snowing… radioactive snow. I thought I would settle down to read a chapter before I crashed – then I realised I had finished the book and my alarm to get up for work was set to go off in 4 hours. Worst feeling ever.

It was an extremely fat paced, easy to read novel. It was obviously preachy, and a little predictable, and everyone’s parents seemed to be pretty sweet letting their children roam around by themselves in a rapey, murdery, violent landscape where they will starve, dehydrate, freeze, or die of radioactive snow… I think to make it more YA, Claire needed to get rid of their parents so that the characters could go and find themselves. Which is fine. But maybe just kill them off. Parents aren’t usually so chill about that.

Most dystopian novels have an enemy. They are usually fairly easy to hate, and are foreign invading country, or of a different species, or an oppressive government. In ‘The Sky so Heavy’ the neighbours are the bad guys. And it feel so very real and hopeless. Human nature is a truly awful thing – and I don’t think I fully grasped that until I read this book. We will kill people, steal the food from the mouths of babies, and whatever the hell else – just so it means we can live. Eugh it’s disgusting. I hope if I am ever in an apocalyptic situation, I get the first wave of sickness, or death so I don’t have to see how low the rest of the world will sink.

So the book was good for that. However I couldn’t help but pick up some similarities to ‘Tomorrow When the War Began’. It was like I had to. The characters where just the same characters rolled into one person, or different genders. I guess in Australia we have about six different personalities. Quiet Asian, Religious, Muck-around-idiot, Artsy-protective-narrator, Hot-girl-who-comes-off-as-shallow-but-is-actually-deep-and-insightful.

All-in-all, worth the read.

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