The Sky So Heavy
By Claire Zorn
Expected Publication: August 2013
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Source: Gifted by Penguin Australia for Review
Genre: Apocalyptic, Dystopian
Read If you liked: Tomorrow when the War Began by John Marsden
Synopsis from Goodreads
For Fin, it’s just like any other day – racing for the school bus, bluffing his way through class and trying to remain cool in front of the most sophisticated girl in his universe. Only it’s not like any other day because, on the other side of the world, nuclear missiles are being detonated. When Fin wakes up the next morning, it’s dark, bitterly cold and snow is falling. There’s no internet, no phone, no TV, no power and no parents. Nothing Fin’s learnt in school could have prepared him for this. With his parents missing and dwindling food and water supplies, Fin and his younger brother, Max, must find a way to survive in a nuclear winter…all on their own. When things are at their most desperate, where can you go for help?
Most of you know me well enough now, that you know I don’t read books in male POV, I made an exception for this book for a couple of reasons, one it is written by a fellow Australian and two It seemed similar to Tomorrow when the war began, which was my favourite book.
The toughest question you could ask a reader like me is what is your favourite book? mostly because I read so many and fall in love with so many it is hard to pick a favourite. To be a favourite it has to invoke all my emotions, I shouldn’t be able to put it down without a fight or the opposite that I can’t bring myself to finish it because I don’t want it to end. Most of all it needs to make me think long and hard after I finish reading, to take time to extract myself from the novel’s world.
The Sky so Heavy by Claire Zorn ticked all these boxes, It is the most haunting, heartbreaking and at time heart stopping book I have ever read. I stumbled upon The Sky so Heavy while doing my weekly stalk of publisher pages to see what new books were coming up, I was drawn immediately to the cover, while nothing flashy It portrays a desolate and scary picture of what appears to be kids standing surrounded by bleakness. Straight away I needed this book, Thankfully Penguin Australia were nice enough to send me a copy for Review.
We meet Fin the protagonist while someone is screaming at him in another language pointing a gun to his head, a truly action packed start to the novel, after a few flashbacks we find that Finn has been left in charge of his younger brother Max, after the world goes to hell when someone sets of a Nuclear Bomb and plunges the world into a nuclear winter. We follow Finn and Max as they struggle to survive, Finn gets a bit paranoid about the snow falling worried that it may be radioactive, This instinct keeps his brother alive while others around him start to get sick and die. Food becomes Scarce and the government abandons the people hoping to keep a select few alive, Finn Teams up with other teenage survivors as they set off in hope of finding Finns mother in Sydney who might be able to save them.
Claire Zorn is not afraid to get to the nitty-gritty and makes you question what could you do to survive, how far could you be pushed and could you abandon what you believe is right in order to survive. I would never have thought about the government abandoning the majority of the population in a situation like this, how could someone in charge make that decision? to let women, children, elderly and men die of starvation and radiation to keep just a few alive, how do you make the decision of who is worthy to live and who should perish.
This book like John Marsden’s Tomorrow series really strike a chord for me, because here in Australia we think we are safe, we don’t go looking for trouble and we back up our allies when we are needed. To consider that a nuclear war elsewhere in the world would destroy so much for everyone, is terrifying, It leaves us, our little country trying to save itself or in the case of The sky so Heavy everyone for themselves. Most dystopias I read are usually set in places such as america or a made up-country after there were no more borders or countries left. Reading books that are set in your own country can really give you nightmares.
This is a brilliant piece of work that I would recommend to anyone who loves Apocalyptic tales of survival, especially Australian’s as it hits so close to home. It is a Hauntingly beautiful tale about survival and how resilient the human spirit can be confronted with the unspeakable.
I cannot wait till the next book in the series.