September 09, 2015

The Clouded Sky: Book 2 of the Earth & Sky Trilogy

by Megan Crewe
Razorbill
978-0-670-06813-5
343 pp.
Ages 13+
May 2015

When YA author Megan Crewe introduced her newest trilogy with Earth & Sky last fall, I don’t think she could have anticipated the positive response she would get to it.  While still speculative fiction like her wildly-popular Fallen World series, Earth & Sky took us into true science fiction, with teen Skylar meeting and helping alien Traveler Win to procure the parts of a weapon that would destroy the time field generator that his fellow Kemyates had been using for millennia to experiment with Earth.  When we last encountered Skylar, she had agreed to accompany Win and other interplanetary rebels–leader Thlo with Isis, Mako, Pavel and Jule–on a spaceship headed to their space station home orbiting their devastated planet of Kemya. There, Skylar would assist the rebels in recreating the weapon–based on her memories and the parts she and Win discovered and the addition of the power source kolzo–so that it could be used to destroy the time field generator.

But, though she is trying to help, Skylar’s presence is not easily explained or even acceptable, until they contrive to have Skylar play the role of Jule’s pet, a common acquisition by richer Kemyates.  Win isn’t pleased but he accepts this as the means by which Skylar can evade the scrutiny of the Enforcers and still be safe, even allowing her the freedom to learn Kemyate and practise navigation simulations in the privacy of Jule’s private apartment.

However, two unexpected circumstances begin to alter Skylar’s contribution to the mission.  First, several mishaps suggest that there is a traitor amongst the group and Thlo charges her with making observations of the rebel group.  And then, unbeknownst to Win with whom Skylar had been becoming close but now sees only occasionally, Jule and Skylar become romantically involved.

Skylar is questioning everything she is seeing and hearing and experiencing.  And her increasing fluency with their language enables her to overhear much which would normally be kept from her.  She needs to know who is sabotaging the mission and putting herself and others at risk.  And who can she trust?  What about Win and what about Jule?  Skylar may be a teen trying to help save her world and put things to right but she needs to learn how to navigate more than just a jet-pod.  Does Win still care about her?  Is her relationship with Jule, Win’s nemesis, a consequence of her “pet” status, as is not uncommon between Kemyate owners and their Earthlings, or something special?

The Clouded Sky may refer to the hazy violet-red clouds that contaminate the air over the “vacant, dust-strewn wasteland” (pg. 343) that is the uninhabitable Kemya but it is even more applicable to the murkiness of truth and deception that Skylar must steer through if she is to accomplish her one true purpose: to stop Kemyate scientists from continuing to alter Earth’s history and to degrade the fabric of her world.  She is strong and focused and, though she allows herself to enjoy the closeness of an unexpected romance and of caring friendships with several rebel Kemyates, Skylar knows the dangers that lie within and outside, and that her role in everything is very tenuous.  But that’s how Megan Crewe writes it.  She keeps the readers wondering and worrying and expecting and disbelieving throughout the story, never giving any hints to her startling ending.  But Megan Crewe has always kept us on the edge of our reading chairs, and she does so again in The Clouded Sky.  And that final line will undoubtedly shock you as it did me.  Luckily, I’ve seen photos of the third book in the series, A Sky Unbroken, which will be out soon and I know Megan Crewe will be at this weekend’s Eden Mills Writers’ Festival so here’s hoping we know sooner, rather than later, the upshot of all that was Earth & Sky and The Clouded Sky.

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