Saturday, July 18, 2009

Balloon Power!

The Sky Village, the first Kaimira book by Nigel and Monk Ashland, alternates between the story of Mei and Rom, two teenagers trying to salvage their families in an interestingly post-apocalyptic world. Mei's mom has been captured by Meks, autonomous robots that have gone wild and roam the Earth destroying things. Her father sends her to the Sky People, a tribe who live in balloons high above the land. Rom tries to keep himself and his younger sister safe in a destroyed Las Vegas, a task made harder by the Beasts, enlarged and more dangerous wild animals that also roam about destroying people. The Meks and Beasts fight each other and kill any people they encounter.

Rom and Mei have as allies a strange book, a family heirloom that allows them to communicate with each other and with the entity inside the book. As the wrestle with the monsters and challenges threatening their lives and their families, they draw on each other and on the mysterious power in the book. They apparently have a genetic trait that lets them access this power, but they don't understand what it really is or what they can do with this power.

The book does a good job showing two kids struggling with powers beyond their control. Both Rom and Mei are trying to do the right thing, but the safety of their families looms much larger than figuring out the mechanics of the strange powers they start to access. Their perspective remains believably short. At some times the switches between their viewpoints pushed me out of the story, and as an adult I find the slick marketing a bit pushy, but I liked the complex struggles and the dual enemy -- what are Meks, what are Beasts, which are more dangerous? I'll see if my fifth grader wants to try the book. B.

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