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A Crack in the Sky (Greenhouse Chronicles) Paperback – August 9, 2011
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From School Library Journal
Gr 6-10–In this first installment of a planned series, 13-year-old Eli lives in a postapocalyptic domed city run by InfiniCorp. The world has been suffering from global warming, but the corporation insists there is no reason to worry. It uses the power of the CloudNet to distract its citizens from signs that all is not as it should be. Because Eli is one of the few who can resist the CloudNet's power, he is accused of being a “Fogger” (those who are accused of anti-InfiniCorp sentiments) and is sent to a reeducation facility where he is imprisoned and forced to work assembling T-shirts. He meets Tabitha, who is the only other slave who can fight the power of the CloudNet. Together they plot to escape. Taut pacing and interesting characters are offset by flawed world building. A map does add visual clarification to settings that aren't fully fleshed out in the text (though, oddly, the location of the re-education facility is not indicated). Eli's microchip-implanted pet mongoose functions as a deus ex machina, another symptom of sloppy world building. While this is a decent example of dystopian literature, it is not likely to win over those who aren't already enthusiastic readers of the genre.Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Hughes’ ecocrisis dystopia follows a familiar formula yet marks the beginning of a thought-provoking series. Thirteen-year-old Eli is expected to secure an important position in the family’s company, InfiniCorp, which created dome-cities to protect humanity from the ecological disasters Outside. When he notices worrisome problems with the artificial sky and weather, his concerns are dismissed. Unable to simply toe the company line, Eli meets the Friends of Gustavo, who claim they know the truth about the Final Days, and ends up marked as a terrorist. When he is sent to be reeducated, he meets Tabitha, another Friend, and with her and his telepathic pet mongoose, Eli intends to escape and bring change. Hughes takes on digital realities, mind control, corporate conspiracies, climate change, religious mania, and evil family members in this action-packed adventure. Although Eli doesn’t spur the plot forward so much as react as it happens, readers will relate as he ends up in trouble just by being inquisitive and observant. The author’s note includes a reading list and intelligent examples of how real science informed the story. Grades 6-10. --Krista Hutley --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Eli lives in one of many domed cities run by InfinCorp. In fact, Eli is sort of royalty in the domed cities since his grandfather was one of the leading people to make them a reality as the face of the world changed drastically. The domes include climate control, air conditioning, and something called CloudNet- an ever-present mix of mindless ads, games, and other things for the citizens of the domes to watch. What the people don't know, though, is that the CloudNet is also a means to keep its citizens docile, mindless, and pliable. It is a type of mind control the people living in the dorm either don't know about or don't care about.
Eli continues on, living his life as normal, when his grandfather gives him an odd pet, a mongoose named Marilyn. Marilyn may seem like your typical mongoose, but she was implanted with a chip that makes her super smart and telepathically able to communicate with Eli. When there is an attack on the dome by Foggers- outside crazies who want to destroy life in the domes- Eli can't help but investigate with Marilyn in tow. When he starts to investigate, he realizes life in the dome might not be as ducky as InfiniCorp wants the people to believe. In fact, there is a very real possibility the domes may be breaking down little by little.
Although InfiniCorp, including Eli's scary cousin Spider, wants Eli to stop his digging into the failure of the domes, he can't help but continue. When he gets too close to the truth, Spider has him put in the closest thing InfiniCorp has to a jail- a "rehabilitation" facility in an off-shore oil rig. There, surrounded by a dying ocean, Eli is having a hard time fighting the CloudNet. What InfiniCorp doesn't know, though, is that another prisoner on the rig is ready to help Eli find his way past the controlling CloudNet. Tabitha knows Eli is more than he seems, and she suspects he is the one the legends talk about that will save people and help them escape the scorched earth and dying or mutating world. Tabitha and Eli must risk everything to get out and spread the word of the dying domes, but can they escape?
Climate change is a very real, very scary scenario. Unfortunately, it is also the subject of much debate. Some people work hard to discredit the theory, some work very hard to inflate or exaggerate what is happening. Basically, we have a whole lot of conflicting and confusing information that no one can agree on. One thing we can agree upon though? That we are doing irreparable damage to our planet slowly but surely. This book not only fictionalizes a possible outcome to our damage, the author also takes the time at the end of the book to explain which parts of the new world are fiction and which are steeped in fact. I find this refreshing, as the author clearly wants kids to read this book and know where his new world came from. He isn't trying to hide his exaggerations, just showing his creative license with the story. Hughes also clearly wants to encourage kids to know more about their world, challenge what is told to them, and always ask questions. I really find it hard not to love a story that encourages children to be aware of the world around them and to not just accept what authority spoon feeds them! Sure it might be easier with dull, docile, mindless young ones, but how boring would "easy" be?!
The book has a relatively moderate reading level. It would be fine for any high skilled middle school student through high school. While it appears to be a series and does end with the possibility of continuing, it isn't a huge cliffhanger that leaves the reader hanging. The scenarios are scary, but not gory. This is a great book to start discussions about our climate, our government, and our lives. The end notes by Hughes also lead to great research opportunities for teachers and students on climate change. I am looking forward to the next story, Mr. Hughes!
Love of and responsibility to protect earth's natural resources, drive Eli, the thirteen-year-old hero, as he deals with conflicts of family relationships, loyalty, deception, hope and the responsibility to seek truth he knows both in his mind and heart. Teen and preteen readers connect with Hughes's musical and lyrical knowledge as words, themes and Grandfather's music box mirror Eli's dome and the dysfunctional world.
While writing A Crack in the Sky, Hughes could not possibly have known of the Gulf Oil Rig Disaster of 2010, and it is eerie reading how the novel's outcasts and freethinkers who defy the government are dealt with after banishment to a defunct oil rig towering alone in the middle of the hopelessly contaminated, Gulf of Mexico. Prophetic? Let's hope not!
As an author, Mark Peter Hughes's books are both compelling and clean. Words, characters and ideas draw teen readers in, yet his language and ideas are never offensive, making these books appropriate for bright 4-5th graders as well as their intended middle or high school audience. Hughes closes with, of course, a hero who is true to himself and his friends, and leaves a powerful message of hope and responsibility to our modern day youth. An excellent read from a fairly new author we'll be demanding more and more from in the future!
Shauna Leggat, Media Specialist, MLS-NBCT
P.S. You can't beat Amazon's price on hardbacks, either.
Hughes' future Earth is wracked by storms and intolerable heat and drought, yet "Insiders" survive in city-sized "Domes". The irony; the long term solution to excessive greenhouse gases is to live in overgrown greenhouses. The ultimate Big Brother (or is it Big Grandfather?) is looking after these Insiders: the ubiquitous company which built and runs the Domes, proclaims "Don't Worry! InfiniCorp is taking care of everything!"
Life is comfortable, especially if--like 13 year old Eli Papadopoulos--you're the grandson of the apparently benevolent man who designed the Domes and thereby saved the world. What more could he ask for? With a bright future planned and an electronically enhanced mongoose as a pet, who cares if your robot teacher is dull?
Yet cracks soon begin to appear in Eli's world. He soon has grounds to question InfiniCorp and his own family. It becomes harder to ignore the flaws in the Domes, even with senses dulled by CloudNet (TV on steroids.) Not everyone is an Insider. Are the mysterious Foggers really terrorists? Can Eli be the real hero who creates a brave new world? It is well worth reading Mark Peter Hughes' book to find out!