Monday, 10 April 2017

Watch the Sky by Kirsten Hubbard

Watch the Sky

Series: N/A
Author: Kirsten Hubbard
Page Count: 272
Published: April 7th, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  3.5 Stars ★★★

Jory's stepfather, Caleb, is always watching for signs. Signs of what, Jory doesn't know, but what Jory does know is that Caleb cares for him, his mother, his step-brother, and Kit, the girl he considers a sister, so he doesn't question Caleb's claims. Jory spends time with other people from his school, and slowly Caleb's grasp on his mind seems to weaken. When his stepfather says that it's time to start digging a tunnel to prepare for what's to come, Jory has to make a choice before his family disappears into the ground, abandoning the outside world. 

This is a middle grade book, with Jory, the main character, around eleven or twelve years old. I mostly read young adult, and I'm expanding into the adult range as well, so reading a middle grade book was a nice change from the usual paranormal romances and contemporary dramas. 

I think the author did a great job of narrating what was going on through how Jory perceived the world around him. Written in third person, the story focuses on Jory's struggle to question Caleb, make friends, and choose what is ultimately right: to abandon Caleb's plan, or to go through with it without question. The theme of questioning what one has been told was very important, and I really appreciate that the author included this theme in a middle grade novel, because I think it's essential to introduce the idea that not everything you're told is right, from a young age. Critical thinking, and thinking for one's self, were things that Jory struggled with and ultimately inspired him to question the things that his mother just accepted for fact, and this to me made him seem like a strong character and a great role model. 

The other characters provided some interesting dialogue and situations, and they ranged from Jory's "normal" friend, Alice, to his mysterious stepfather. Alice, and the other children that Jory befriends, provide a way for Jory to feel like he's not completely alone outside of his family, and they are very likeable! They're smart, bright, and hopeful, which contrasts the uneasiness that Jory experiences at home. 

This uneasiness mainly takes the form of Caleb and his "signs". I disliked Caleb from the start, I thought he was suspicious, paranoid, and fairly controlling. I also didn't really like Jory's mother, for buying into Caleb's ideas so easily, and dragging her children into everything. Jory's sister, Kit, was an interesting character. While not his biological sister, they form a bond that remains important throughout the novel, and while she remains mostly silent in the story, I think she has a big impact on the way the story is told overall. If she wasn't in the book, I feel that it would be a much different book than it truly is. 

I had some issues with the pacing. I think that at times the book dragged on, and at others, the events went by way too fast. While the idea of the book was very interesting, I think there weren't enough answers as to what exactly Caleb was preparing for, and why Jory's mother bought into his ideas so easily. 

Overall this was an enjoyable middle grade novel. While the pacing was a bit off and some pieces of the book seemed to lack context, the themes of questioning what one has been told, and the characters themselves made for an interesting read. 

I recommend this to middle grade readers who enjoy stories set in the contemporary world. If you're interested in a book that explores what it means to think for yourself, this book is for you.

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