Published: October 3rd 2013 by Hot Key Books
Format: Paperback, 272 pages
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In a world where islands float above the sun and Cloud Hunters sail the skies for water, orphans Gemma and Martin live with their 120-year-old great, great, grand aunt Peggy and the sky-cat Botcher on a remote rock miles from civilisation.
When Peggy decides they should visit City Island to register at school, the group embarks on a trip that will take them through uncharted territories, navigating a very dangerous sky. Encountering cloud pirates, sky rats and an axe murdering motel owner, Gemma and Martin must learn to fend for themselves, and fight for what's right in a perilous world.
Oh wow. When I read The Cloud Hunters, I proclaimed it to be a perfect book. Sky Run returns us to the amazing world Shearer created in that book and this time we’re following siblings Martin and Gemma as they make the long, hazardous journey from their home in the outskirts to City Island, where they plan to enrol in school.
The story-telling is again absolutely enchanting – Sky Run is narrated by Gemma and Martin, who alternate every few chapters. They both have distinct voices: Gemma’s full of the cynicism and world-weariness of a 13 year old, and Martin’s full of the wonder and excitement of a 11 year old boy. I loved them both, and I think they tell their story well. I’ve guessed their ages since, like in the last book, Shearer keeps us in the dark about their exact ages.
I also loved Peggy – the protagonist’s great-great-great-aunt (or something similarly far removed). She’s crotchety and a little bizarre, but immensely wise and caring. She’s not a Gandalf-type character, but fills the role of world-weary mentor well. Her own background is very interesting, and I wouldn’t say no to reading a further novel about her! In fact, most of the secondary characters would have worthy companion novels: Alain the lost Cloud Hunter boy is certainly the most intriguing, but I have a feeling Angelica has a few amazing stories up her sleeve. They both balanced out the protagonists and brought a little colour to their lives.
While Sky Run doesn’t allow us a glimpse into Christien and Jenine’s lives, it does prominently feature characters we met briefly in the first book. Which I think is awesome, because the duo from The Cloud Hunters are mentioned, and it’s interesting to know how other people saw their unique situation.
Whereas Shearer allowed his unique world to unfold delicately in The Cloud Hunters, Sky Run assumes readers are already familiar with the planet that consists of floating islands where the ‘sun’ is the fiery planet core and the ‘sea’ is the air. I’d commented that the world-building could sometimes slow the action down in the first book, and am happy to say that this novel doesn’t suffer from that problem.
In The Cloud Hunters, Shearer was telling a story of a boy who was living his dream, but in Sky Run, we follow normal kids who are seeing world outside of their tiny island for the first time. Their wondrous journey is fun, and they learn so much before even reaching City Island. Like the first book, Sky Run focusses on the awakening the protagonists go through, where they realise that the world is full of good and bad things, and learn lessons that most people, unfortunately, don’t throughout their whole lives.
Sky Run is the ultimate coming-of-age story, perfect for all readers. I’ve loved coming back to this world and learning more about it, and hope there’s more to come!