Breaking Sky

Breaking Sky

4.3 7
by Cori McCarthy
     
 

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She lives for speed. She'll die for love.

A high-flying, adrenaline-fueled thriller for fans of Divergent and The Young Elites. "Breaking Sky is an action-packed thrill ride." —Carrie Jones, New York Times bestselling author of the Need series.

Chase Harcourt, call sign "Nyx", isn't one to play

Overview

She lives for speed. She'll die for love.

A high-flying, adrenaline-fueled thriller for fans of Divergent and The Young Elites. "Breaking Sky is an action-packed thrill ride." —Carrie Jones, New York Times bestselling author of the Need series.

Chase Harcourt, call sign "Nyx", isn't one to play it safe. America is locked in a cold war — and the country's best hope is the elite teen fighter pilots of the United Star Academy. Chase is one of only two daredevil pilots chosen to fly an experimental "Streaker" jet. But few know the pain and loneliness of her past. All anyone cares about is that Chase aces the upcoming Streaker trials, proving the prototype jet can knock the enemy out of the sky.

But as the world tilts toward war, Chase cracks open a military secret. There's a third Streaker, whose young hotshot pilot, Tristan, can match her on the ground and in the clouds. Chase doesn't play well with others. But to save her country, she may just have to put her life in the hands of the competition.

Breaking Sky is a gritty coming of age tale with tons of action, a fascinating dystopian society, humor, friendship, romance and heart-stopping, high-stakes flying that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Breaking Sky has also been optioned for film by Sony Pictures.

"Smart, exciting, confident-and quite possibly the next Big Thing."-Kirkus

"Had me in its grip from take-off to landing. Chase is a kick-butt female and the swoon-worthy flyboys kept me up way past my bedtime." -Joy N. Hensley, author of Rites of Passage

"A non-stop thrill ride... will keep you reading at the speed of sound. Breaking Sky is one of the most exciting reads of the year." —Thomas E. Sniegoski, New York Times bestselling author of The Fallen series

"McCarthy puts her characters in increasingly tense situations, testing them to the breaking point...[A] crazy-cool story."-Booklist

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Strong characterizations, action, adventure, and emotion combine to produce a sci-fi novel that is more than just the sum of its parts." - School Library Journal

""This riveting near-future science fiction military adventure reads like a cross between Top Gun and Ender's Game, blended with just the right amount of adolescent angst. [...] With her faux-hawk and her self-protective sass, Chase emerges as a fascinating heroine, equal parts warrior and troubled teenager, whose entire life is a battlefield. [...] Replete with fighter pilot jargon, plausible science fiction elements, and nerd-friendly literary allusions, this taut, well-crafted novel should have broad appeal, for fans of everything from Roth's Divergent to Wein's Code Name Verity."" - The Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books

"McCarthy (The Color of Rain) deploys breath-stopping depictions of high-stakes piloting with enviable ease, and the in-your-face personal confrontations are nearly as taut. Both will keep readers glued to the page. " - Publishers Weekly

"Chase is the kind of reckless, badass girl I would have wished I could be more like when I was her age. She's willing to take risks, extremely skilled, and looked upon by the other cadets at the junior Air Force Academy as a rockstar because of her job as one of two Streaker pilots. " - Forever Young Adult

"BREAKING SKY by Cori McCarthy is an exhilarating novel with a realistic main character and intense action scenes. " - Teen Reads

Publishers Weekly
01/05/2015
Chase Harcourt is “an excellent pilot. And, if she was being honest, kind of a crappy person.” Arrogant, impulsive, confrontational, and competitive, her promiscuity and brashness are bywords in the rec room of the Air Force’s United Star Academy, where she is the favorite cadet of the commanding officer, General Kale. (Fans of the Battlestar Galactica reboot will see more than a little Starbuck in Chase.) With her brilliant crewman Pippin, Chase flies the Dragon, an experimental Streaker jet and America’s fragile hope of countering the threat of the world’s only superpower, Ri Xiong Di. Only two Streakers exist—until Chase encounters a third one that no one in command will admit to. World War III and the pilot trials loom, but Chase focuses on one thing: proving that the third plane is out there. McCarthy (The Color of Rain) deploys breath-stopping depictions of high-stakes piloting with enviable ease, and the in-your-face personal confrontations are nearly as taut. Both will keep readers glued to the page. Ages 14–up. Agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary Agency. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
★ 02/01/2015
Gr 9 Up—The year is 2048. Teenager Chase, better known by her call sign, Nyx, is a pilot in training for the American military's topmost secret project. Back in 2020, American pilots were massacred in an airfight by drones—dictator Ri Xiong Di's most effective weapon. The entire world has endured a second Cold War ever since. No other countries are allowed to aid the U.S. at all, and the people are suffering. The military is secretly testing two new plane prototypes that might outrun the drones. However, their pilots must be young and strong enough to withstand the tremendous force on the human body that occurs when traveling at high speeds. In order to get funding for more prototypes, Nyx and her comrades must prove the worth of the project. On a training mission, Nyx spots a third prototype that she didn't know existed. In her haste to discover the identity of its pilot and country, Nyx endangers the entire project and many lives as well. But, if she can start dismantling the wall she's built around herself since her difficult childhood, she might be able to trust someone, fall in love, and save the day. Similar to the S.J. Kincaid's "Insignia" series (HarperCollins), this novel distinguishes itself. The dialogue is authentic, and the characters are nuanced. Chase has determination and resolve, even in the face of her fears. The description of her flights is breathtakingly realistic. VERDICT Strong characterizations, action, adventure, and emotion combine to produce a sci-fi novel that is more than just the sum of its parts.—Kelly Jo Lasher, Middle Township High School, Cape May Court House, NJ
Kirkus Reviews
2014-12-22
Teen pilots fight for the cause in a dystopian future.Despite her checkered past, Chase Harcourt has become one of the top pilots in the United Star Academy. Going by the call sign "Nyx," Chase and her team are piloting the Streakers, a new aircraft that may be America's last hope in ending the Second Cold War. While out on a routine training exercise, Chase sees something that should be impossible: a Streaker with enemy markings. Even though her superiors and commanding officers call her crazy, Chase has no choice but to find out what exactly she saw, even if it means breaking every rule in the book. Mixing the thrills of Top Gun and the political intrigue of the Hunger Games makes for an alluring read. Leading with a strong, multifaceted female character certainly won't hurt the novel's chances with its target demographic. It's no stretch to imagine a Hollywood announcement of development soon after release. And they'd be right to do so: The author's storytelling is incredibly cinematic, equally adept at capturing extended flight sequences and Chase's interpersonal struggles. Emotions run high toward the novel's end, and the author isn't afraid to play a bit rough, making this feel less like a novel capitalizing on current trends and more like a great story being told in a very cool way. Smart, exciting, confident—and quite possibly the next Big Thing. (Dystopian thriller. 12-16)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781492621126
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Publication date:
02/07/2016
Pages:
432
Sales rank:
502,797
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Breaking Sky


By Cori McCarthy

Sourcebooks, Inc.

Copyright © 2015 Cori McCarthy
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4926-0142-5



CHAPTER 1

SOUND BARRIER

Break It, Baby


Speed turned her on.

The other cadets talked about the thrill of flying, but Chase didn't relate. Her love was more specific. She flew for the high-g press of ten times the weight of gravity. For the throttle thrust forward, the roar-rev of the engines, and then, the mach rush.

Chase was in the atmosphere — flying so fast she felt like solid muscle. Her thoughts were a dance of impulse as she backed off the speed and looked through the tempered glass canopy. The earth knelt before her like she was holding court over the whole damn planet.

She smiled.

"I don't suppose you see a gas station." Pippin sat a few feet behind her, but his voice was closer, a direct link from his mask to her helmet's headphones. "Nearing bingo fuel, Nyx."

"Give me two minutes." Chase smelled a challenge. Or she imagined one. Anything to prolong the hop and do something fun. She pulled back on the stick, pointing the nose of her jet straight at the midday sun.

Brilliance charged the crystal dome.

"Tower to Nyx. Come in, Nyx," Pippin mocked. "My sense of mortality insists I ask if we're coming down anytime soon. As much as I wanted to be an astronaut when I was five, Dragon isn't a starship. Where are we going exactly?"

"Somewhere. Anywhere." The sun blinded through her smoky visor, but she kept her eyes ahead. "Up."

"Yes, I was going to point out that somewhere feels like up today. Sylph is already halfway home."

"Good." Chase gripped the throttle, and the leather of her gloves gripped back. "We don't need Sylph sniffing around for this."

Moments scratched by, and Pippin cleared his throat. Twice.

"We got to get high, Pip. Real high. Otherwise, we'll smash into the ground before we can break the sound barrier in a downward spiral."

"WHAT? WHY?"

Her reasons stacked. Because the training runs were tedious. Because Sylph, the pilot of the other experimental Streaker jet, had never and would never try such a stunt. And because Chase was Nyx, and with that title came certain wild expectations.

And the cherry on top? Because Chase needed to prove she could do it.

When they were nearly thirty miles up, about to leave the stratosphere, she turned the jet toward the curve of the earth's surface and let them freefall. Gravity took hold, and she steeled herself to punch through it.

"Wait, Nyx. I'm all for fun, but this is — "

The engine howl took over. They blazed at the blue-on-blue planet, the green smatterings coming into focus. She felt the mach tuck, the air trying to slow her down, just as the sound barrier broke.

The sonic boom was lost behind them, but a pearly halo erupted in their wake.

She crowed.

Chase Harcourt, call sign "Nyx," had broken the speed of sound at absolute zero sink rate. The other cadets could put that on her headstone.

Speaking of, she was about to die.

"Nyx!" Pippin yelled. "We're not going to pull up in time!" The earth was growing larger fast.

Too fast.

Chase reeled in the speed, but the jet resisted. Pippin panic-hummed "Ode to Joy," and Chase's arm muscles shook. Land filled the cockpit glass. They were going to slam into it. Houses came into focus.

Trees.

People even.

Chase caught an updraft at the last second. They soared into the sky, leveling above the blush of wispy clouds. Pippin ripped off his mask to gasp, while Chase's eyes stuck a little too wide. Far below, the humped back of South America led to the arm of Panama, rising fist-up through the Caribbean Sea.

Chase let go of the throttle slowly, her fingers stiff. "Christ. That was fun."

"Balls of fi — "

A flash of shining silver cut Pippin off. Cut everything off. Dragon flipped. Chase fought to frame the horizon, but what she saw next iced her blood.

A Streaker. A twin to the prototype she sat in.

It was like walking by a mirror she didn't know existed. It made her jump, defensively jinking her wings. The other pilot looked her way right before jet-washing Dragon. Chase and Pippin spun through the fiery engine wake. Long seconds passed before she won the stick back and blinked the red out of her vision. By the time Dragon had stabilized, nothing but the other Streaker's contrail remained. A white highway.

Chase exploded after it.

"Time for a conference call, Nyx." Pippin's tight voice belied his mocking. "What in the blazes was that?"

"A bogey."

"That looked like Sylph."

"Sylph's almost home. You said it yourself. That was someone else."

Pippin didn't bother to agree. He was into his controls in a desperate way. After all, he was her RIO, her radar intercept officer. The sky was his ingrained map, and it was his job to make sure the air was clear around them, like a human satellite. "That bird has no signal," he finally said, a hint of wonder in his voice. "How could it have no signal?"

"No signal and it's headed for U.S. soil." Chase's pulse picked up. Her muscles went tight as she leaned into the pursuit. This wasn't like the stunt she'd just pulled. This was what she was trained for, and she left safe speeds way behind.

"What are you going to do if we catch it? We're not armed, Nyx."

"Track it. See where it lands." Make sure it isn't a sneaking spy from China, she added to herself.

They passed Mach 3.

Chase grinned so fiercely from the pressure that she felt crazed. "There. You see him?"

Far below, metal winked over the serpentine glisten of the Mississippi. She pulled lower, closer to the blue-ferocity of the engines — dual engines that reached under each narrow wing and married together at the back like the infinity symbol. Just like Dragon's engines.

Chase dove under the jet. God, it was blinding fast. The pilot tilted into her space, their wings nearly kissing. She'd never gotten remotely this close to Sylph's bird in the air ... it made her laugh out loud and test how much closer she could get. The other pilot's bloodred helmet shot a look her way, and she had the funniest feeling he was laughing too.

"Pip, look at that helmet —"

Dragon's emergency low fuel alarm pierced the cockpit. She slapped at the control board to turn it off, but her speed died as the engines defaulted to reserve levels. The other jet broke east toward the indigo muscles of the Great Lakes.

Chase had just enough time to read the sharp military stenciling along its side:

PHOENIX

CHAPTER 2

DRONE

An Enemy without a Face


Pippin wanted that jet to be Sylph. He wouldn't let it go. "The Star could be trying out some new music or a block. Maybe they fuzzed my radar to see how close Sylph could get."

"Sylph doesn't have the lady balls to fly that fast," Chase said. Dragon was far west now, above Seattle, and headed due north. The clouds evaporated, revealing a jagged coastline. "Pip, I saw red."

"No, surely not." He checked his sarcasm with a growling sigh. "You went feral flyboy. You would have followed that contrail straight across the d-line if it had headed that way."

"Red helmet." She touched her black standard-issue helmet. Chase wasn't technically in the Air Force yet, but as a top-ranked cadet, she had fought for the opportunity to pilot one of two Streaker prototypes.

One of three ...

"Are you scanning for drones?" Chase's voice pitched, betraying her standard cool. Pippin grunted a confirmation. They were only a few hundred miles from the demarcation line, the invisible boundary that split the Pacific Ocean and kept the Second Cold War so chilly.

She pulled her mask from her face only to reattach it. Bingo fuel meant autopilot, and autopilot meant that Dragon was flying at tricycle pace. In the meantime, Chase drilled her emotions, set up each worry like a toy soldier. Where did that bird come from? Who knew about it? And more importantly, who didn't know about it?

"Did you see its name, Pip? That bird had Phoenix stenciled on its side."

"Phoenix looks a lot like Sylph's Pegasus. Seven letters. Begins with P."

"Except for the fact that they're different words."

"Different mythological beasts, in fact."

"That wasn't Sylph, Henry." She hoped using his real name might emphasize her point. "Why do I feel like you're trying to convince me to drop it?"

"Because I'm smarter than you. Chase."

"You're smarter than everybody."

"My cross to bear."

Chase's impatience held down her smirk. She drummed her fingers on the cockpit. Most canopies were made of thick plastic, but Dragon's was crafted from tempered glass, the strongest in the world. "That Phoenix had the same crystal canopy. The same blue-silver skin."

In Chase's mind, the Streakers stood apart in the sky and in aviation history. Light, sleek, and fueled by rip-roaring twin engines. They were hybrids of the older manned jets with HOTAS controls — hands-on throttle and stick — and the popular aerodynamic drones of the early twenty-first century.

"You saw it," she said a little harder.

"Maybe it's a backup," Pippin tried. "The Air Force's dirty little secret. Or hey, maybe the Navy academy has a Streaker we don't know about." "Bite your tongue," Chase grumbled. "The Streakers are the Air Force's babies. Kale promised me that much."

"I forgot. You think the brigadier general is all hand to God."

"Hey, now," she said. "You're supposed to warn me before you snark that hard."

He chuckled, and that alone was worth the bickering. Pippin needed a laugh these days like most two-year-olds needed a nap. Not that Pippin was the only one struggling. Chase, the other cadets, the airmen at the Star — everyone needed a break from the strangling tension of the Second Cold War. Chase's thoughts plunged as she watched the beach below run a white scar toward the horizon. She couldn't stop herself from imagining World War III. Battleships crowding the West Coast. The black rain of missiles falling.

America on fire.

The blaze she imagined was a collage of crimson. Red drones. Ri Xiong Di's bleeding flag. And that maroon-helmeted pilot. Could Phoenix have come from the New Eastern Bloc? Did the Asians steal the design? Build their own Streaker?

No. That would be impossible. Catastrophic.

"You think Kale is fuming in the tower right now?" Chase asked. "No doubt they caught that near collision on the satellite feed."

"By design, Dragon comes up as little more than a speeding blip on their radar. If we didn't, the bad guys would have crossed the line and taken us down two years ago."

"Don't say 'bad guys,'" Chase said. "That makes them feel like a joke."

"I prefer when they feel like a joke." He added under his breath, "So do you." Pippin sprinkled everything with cynicism.

"We could radio in," she tried. "Let Kale know about the phantom Streaker."

"Nyx, that bird wasn't armed. It's not an immediate threat. Kale wouldn't want you to risk opening up our signal to anyone waiting to shake us down." Pippin said anyone, but he meant Ri Xiong Di. Spying jerks, they were always listening, always sending out code viruses that could cripple navigation, misfire missiles, or worst of all, crash jets kamikaze-style into civilian areas. Bam.

So the Streakers flew off the grid, which necessitated a two-man team and radio silence. But Ri Xiong Di's cyber superiority affected more than just airpower. Any time they wanted to take over a TV station or satellite, they did. Even the U.S. military's network had been hacked in the past.

Nothing was safe.

Chase leaned into the canopy glass. They crossed the Canadian border, skirting a never-ending white-on-woods landscape. Canada was rumored to be as depressed as America these days. No one could say for sure — the borders had been closed since 2022 — and communication wasn't permitted between America and other countries.

The U.S. had been on its own for twenty-six years, which meant constant vigilance and a raw state of survival. Chase felt that responsibility through her hands, her gloves, her throttle and stick. Straight to the titanium bones of the beautiful bird she called Dragon.

"Kale needs to know about that Streaker, Pip. ASAP. I'm going to break autopilot."

"We only have enough fuel to keep this speed. Besides, we're almost there." His subtext was wait. After all, the cold war was purely that: endless waiting.

In poli-sci, Chase had learned that Ri Xiong Di had spread through Asia during the 2010s like a quiet cancer. The continent solidified under the anti-democratic political faction, and the new superpower took a stand by toppling the old one. They limited America's global trade and scared away natural allies like Canada with fleets of red drones.

Chase had to be proud of what happened next. It was the reason she was only a junior and yet flying a multibillion-dollar jet. Congress enacted the Youth Services Charter, establishing junior military academies to rescue the nation's brightest teens from the country's bleak poverty. At the same time, the Air Force began to experiment with manned fighter jets that might someday best the red drones. The latest secret hope was the Streakers — jets so fast they required teen pilots in top physical form with impulse-swift reflexes.

Banks Island came into view as the sky darkened. From the air, the ice-covered archipelago was shaped like a tousled T-shirt, complete with river wrinkles and a star structure where the chest pocket would be.

The United Star Academy.

The place glittered with life, serving as both a full-functioning Air Force base and the junior military academy. Chase traced the six triangular buildings fanned around a hexagonal center as the blue blink of the runway greeted her like a string of Christmas lights. The Star always welcomed, which never felt small after her smoking hole of a childhood.

Chase stole the jet from autopilot and sped into the landing, letting down with a shriek of tires and engines. The fuel gauge hung like a broken arm, and she kept off the brakes as she headed across the landing apron toward the hangar.

"Care to slow down?" Pippin asked. "We're going to get pulled over, and I think you've been drinking."

"Be serious for a sec, Pippin."

"Okay. Seriously slow down."

"Can't. Might stall out."

Pippin did that annoying thing where he knew what she was thinking. "Kale's not going to react when you tell him about Mr. Red Helmet. Not the way you want him to."

Her RIO's continued dismissal of the phantom Streaker finally hit her too hard. She unhooked her harness and turned around in her seat to face him. Dragon jerked off course, and they headed for the side of the hangar, still taxiing fast.

"How can you think we should drop this?"

Pippin unstrapped his mask and flipped up his visor. "Remember when Crowley said he saw drones over Florida? They put him on the Down List before he'd finished filing the report. Also" — he pointed forward — "there's a wall there."

"You're really not curious?"

"I'm really not worried. There could be three Streakers instead of two. Wall. The military is a labyrinth of lies. Wall."

"Interesting career choice you've made."

"Wall, Chase! WALL!"

"All right!" She swung around and turned too fast. Dragon careened through the hangar doors and scattered ground crew like pigeons before sliding into a neat stop beside the other Streaker, Pegasus, with a light bump of wing against wing.

Chase popped off her helmet. "I need you on my team, Pippin."

"Do I get a Team Nyx T-shirt?"

"I'm serious."

"As a bullfight." Pippin unstrapped his harness and flipped up his visor. Their eyes met the way they always did after a long hop. With relief and exhaustion and whatever was on the shadow side of trust. Chase thought it scanned like regret, but whatever it was had been rooted throughout their friendship. What they did, they did together. Hands down.

"I know you're serious," Pippin said, giving the word its full meaning for once. "I'll back you up."

She swatted his helmet affectionately and opened the canopy. Densely cold air sunk into the cockpit, but she took a deep, leveling breath. She was home.

CHAPTER 3

COLORFUL ACTIONS

Safety Is Overrated


Chase spent the next five minutes getting chewed out by the deck officer. Irresponsible. Show-off. Reckless. Maverick. He spent all the standard criticisms so fast that she couldn't help being impressed. All that for a slightly rushed parking job — he didn't even know about the stunt she'd pulled in the air.

A couple of freshman ground crew waited by the fuel tanks, chatting up Pippin. They gave her thumbs-ups from behind the officer's back. Chase knew her fan club by sight, but she hadn't bothered to learn their names. That might have seemed flyboy elitist like everything else at the Star, but she really just wasn't the kind of girl to focus on anyone or anything outside of Dragon.

When the officer finally stomped away, Chase strode over with her helmet under her arm. She couldn't keep back a smile. She loved riling up an officer — putting on a show. It was better than being overlooked, and it also kept people at a manageable distance.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Breaking Sky by Cori McCarthy. Copyright © 2015 Cori McCarthy. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

CORI MCCARTHY studied poetry and screenwriting before falling in love with writing for teens at Vermont College of Fine Arts. From a military family, Cori was born on Guam and lived a little bit of everywhere before she landed in Michigan. Learn more about her books at CoriMcCarthy.com.

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Breaking Sky 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
SmalltownSR 4 days ago
Heart breakingly beautiful, well written.
Archaeolibrarian More than 1 year ago
Breaking Sky is set in a near(ish) dystopian future, when America has been cut off from everyone else, and China is ruling the world. Chase, call sign Nyx, is an 18-year-old girl with issues, who hides from those issues by getting some 'skin-on-skin' action (not sex). She is a complex and interesting character, backed up completely by Henry, call sign Pippin. These two make quite the pair and I loved every scene with them in. This is a compelling novel, with similarities to the well-known film, Top Gun. I'm sure that Cori McCarthy is fed up of these comparisons by now, but the truth is there. There is a reference to the Navy's Top Gun made in the book, which just made me smile. Exceedingly well written, and with no editing or grammatical errors that I could see, this was a book to get lost in. For a fast-paced action story, with a side order of romance, plus a pinch of suspense in whether the Cold War will escalate, then I can Highly Recommend this book. It completely blew me away, and I loved every moment. * I received this book from SourceFire Books / NetGalley in return for a fair and honest review. * Merissa Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It called out to me I couldn't put it down
Amy-T More than 1 year ago
Woo, BREAKING SKY was super fun, guys. If you are looking for something with lots of action, a fascinating dystopian society, ballsy characters, and a Top Gun vibe, you should be hunting down Cori McCarthy’s book right about now. It wasn’t perfect, but I wish there were more of them to come because I’d keep reading about this world and these characters for sure. That Top Gun reference was no joke, friends. The main action in BREAKING SKY takes place at the Star Academy, an elite flying school in waaaaay northern Canada. In this version of the world, the globe has once again plunged into a Cold War, this time between the US and a conglomeration of Asian nations known as Ri Xoing Di. The two countries go after each other in stealth (obviously) in the air: the US with older aircraft and Ri Xiong Di with extremely dangerous drones. However. At Star Academy, the students–but especially a brash young thing, call sign Nyx–are testing newer, faster planes called Streakers. Figuring out which pilots will get to patrol against the Ri Xiong Di using these flashy new planes is the central drama until, well, more drama happens between Nyx and a new pilot, Tristan. I really couldn’t put BREAKING SKY down. The pace was really great from start to finish. Which I guess you might expect from all the Top Gun/Air Force talk. It’s a really fitting characteristic for a book like BREAKING SKY, where things happen to the characters with awesome speed. However, if I had to also point out a NEGATIVE thing about BREAKING SKY, it would be that sometimes–but especially the closer we get to the end–things got too fast. It had that bit of a rush feeling I sometimes get with standalones. Really, this is only a complaint because I loved the characters and the world they lived in and wanted more. Nyx in particular is so awesome. She fiery and a complete badass. She owns her body and her sexuality and is a driven to be the best pilot at Star Academy. Sometimes to the detriment of herself and her copilot, Pippin. Nyx doesn’t really do the feels, so her relationships aren’t always good ones, but she has a complex past and personal demons, and her reckless courage fits what we learn about her. I just loved her, even when she was frustrating. Of course, Nyx is not the only person at Star Academy. There’s lots of other great characters, too. I particularly loved Pippin, Nyx’s radar operator. He’s super nerdy and loves Lord of the Rings, he’s a ginger, he’s from New Jersey, and he really broke my heart. His relationship with Nyx was one of my sources of great frustration with her. They just weren’t good at TALKING, for all that it seems that they are pretty close. I really wanted their relationship to be better since they both needed some friends. The romance between Nyx and Tristan was good, too. It’s not what stands out to me in BREAKING SKY but I liked it. I liked the way Tristan didn’t try to make Nyx reign herself in, but their mutual feelings for one another softened up her edges a bit. Tristan is just as much of an ace pilot as she is, and so there was definitely some competition between them, but they did bring out good things in each other. What really stood out to me about BREAKING SKY, and what I loved and simultaneously had a problem with, is the world-building. I was incredibly intrigued by the idea of a new Cold War between the US and Asia. BREAKING SKY is set in the not-distant future, and I always love dystopians that don’t completely undermine the current reality. Like, I can imagine this Cold War coming to pass in some shape or form. At the same time, I wanted more of it. I wanted more of Ri Xiong Di. I wanted more explanation of what happened, more details. There are echoes of the first Cold War in the way the US is trying to create a machine that will outstrip the Asian drones–it reminded me a little bit of what I know of the space race. This part of BREAKING SKY suffered the most from the “holy s***, this is a standalone and I have to end everything now” thing. SUCH a shame. In truth, there were a lot of different angles in BREAKING SKY that could’ve been fleshed out into bigger storylines that would’ve added to an already awesome foundation. It’s what makes me wish so much that this was a series. I want to read more of this world and these people. Cori McCarthy definitely did a great job with the action and the drama, and it was satisfying, but more would’ve been even MORE SO. (Obviously.)
DiiMI More than 1 year ago
America has lost its world dominance and enemy drones are wreaking havoc on its survival. All hopes rest on an elite group of teenaged warrior flyers trained to be the best of the best in super-secret fighter jets that, under the right pilots could save the country. Two jets exist, and Chase has made it her mission to be one of those elite pilots. Brilliant, driven and a little too impetuous, Chase has demons to beat down in her mind, one flight at a time. A star in the skies, back on solid ground, she trusts no one but her RIO and best friend, Pippin. They are a team, a unit and no matter what she does he has her back, but even he doesn’t know the full extent of what drives her to perfection, to take too many chances and to not care what anyone thinks of her. Imagine, seeing another Streaker jet appear, only to discover that the Canadians also have an ace pilot, who might even be better than Chase. Tristan has the maturity that Chase lacks, he is secure in his own skin, more rational in his thought processes and for Chase, he might as well BE the enemy. If the fate of the world rests on their shoulders, they must learn to train as a team, fight as a team and have each others back, but is it possible? There is some chemistry, but is it sparks of emotion or a ticking time bomb waiting to go off? When one disaster follows another and Chase is to blame for someone’s death, will the team turn against her or stand with her in support, in spite of her prickly ways. When the top brass look at her under an unforgiving microscope, will Chase realize the error in her ways? Will she finally confront her past and learn valuable truths long held from her? Will she find something she has longed for? Will she learn there is no “I” in team and reach out for love and acceptance? Strap in and hang on for the ride of your life! Breaking Sky by Cori McCarthy takes the insecurities and bravado of youth and launches it into the stratosphere. Built in a fast-paced and highly charged atmosphere, there is no moment of quiet to settle back, this is white-knuckle story-telling all of the way. Brilliant action scenes, heartbreaking moments of discovery, angst and anger, it’s all there, woven into a world of instability and an uncertain future. Shay often leaves her best side buried within her mind as we “hear” her torment and feel her sense of helplessness to overcome what bothers her. The intense loyalty these teens feel as a team is refreshing. The maturity displayed by Tristan, as an outsider is remarkable. Put it all together and Cori McCarthy has broken the “hit” barrier.
Caroles_Random_Life More than 1 year ago
3 Stars! I liked this book. I didn't love it but I found it to be rather entertaining. When I first saw the description for this book, I couldn't wait to read it. I immediately thought of the movie "Top Gun" but with a dystopian twist. After reading the book, I really have a lot of mixed feelings about it. I think that there were some things that were done really well in this book. The story was incredibly fast paced with a lot of action. The characters in this book fly jets - they don't have time to sit around. I liked the flying scenes - the descriptions made it so easy to visualize these planes flying at unimaginable speeds. I liked most of the characters in the story. I actually liked almost all of the characters more than I liked the main character, Chase. There was quite a few things that I didn't like about this book. I thought it was too much like the movie "Top Gun". Way too much. I have seen that movie many times since it was first released and I know the story pretty well. It was really very disappointing to see so much of the book mirroring that movie. I felt the need to go watch the movie as soon as I finished the book to be honest. I also found it a bit strange that this group of teenagers are who the United States plans to rely upon to save our country. The manner in which Chase, or Nyx, flys is oftentimes reckless and almost always lacks sound judgement. I wouldn't let her drive my car and I certainly wouldn't let her do some of the stunts she pulls in a plane that could be the country's last hope. I would have liked to know a little bit more about how the world became what it is in this story as well. I didn't like Chase very much. I understand that things have not always been easy for her but she treats everyone terribly. She does open up to Tristan as the book progresses but it seemed to me to be too little and too late. I didn't understand how all the boys seemed to fall all over her - it just doesn't make sense to me. Chase's character did evolve some and became more likable towards the end of the book. The parts of the book that I didn't care for as much didn't completely overwhelm the excitement of the story. There are a whole lot of scenes that are simply based on being in the air at the control of these powerful jets. I do think that this book will widely appeal to a teen audience. I realize that I am not the target audience for this book and I do think that teens will find the story quite exciting. I received a copy of this book from Sourcebooks Fire via Net Galley for the purpose of providing an honest review.
PureJonel More than 1 year ago
McCarthy has created a wildly imaginative, well rounded dystopian world that definitely sparks your interest.  This fast paced story is filed with vivid descriptions that invite the reader to experience it.  The realistic manner in which she tells her story combined with the near-future aspect gives it a bit of a chilling feel.  I couldn’t help but imagine the possibilities.  This is the type of story that’s great for those of YA age, but will be loved by readers of all readers.  McCarthy combines the angst of coming of age with a wildly imaginative tale in the perfect proportions.  It was great trip. I loved the competitive edge in the characters.  They were a lot of fun to get to know.  The fact that these teens were the hope for the US was a bit over the top, but it’s one of the marked qualities of YA dystopian stories.     McCarthy develops a cast of characters who embody what it means to be coming of age, without ever being stereotypical.  It was a great thing to experience. As a whole, this was a great read.  McCarthy has created a world I not only enjoyed reading, but one that I’d enjoy living. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.