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The Sky Inside

The Sky Inside

3.5 6
by Clare B. Dunkle

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Martin lives in a perfect world.

Every year a new generation of genetically-engineered children is shipped out to meet their parents. Every spring the residents of his town take down the snow they've stuck to their windows and put up flowers. Every morning his family gathers around their television and votes, like everyone else, for


Martin lives in a perfect world.

Every year a new generation of genetically-engineered children is shipped out to meet their parents. Every spring the residents of his town take down the snow they've stuck to their windows and put up flowers. Every morning his family gathers around their television and votes, like everyone else, for whatever matter of national importance the president has on the table. Today, it is the color of his drapes. It's business as usual under the protective dome of suburb HM1.

And it's all about to come crashing down.

Because a stranger has come to take away all the little children, including Martin's sister, Cassie, and no one wants to talk about where she has gone. The way Martin sees it, he has a choice. He can remain in the dubious safety of HM1, with danger that no one wants to talk about lurking just beneath the surface, or he can actually break out of the suburb, into the mysterious land outside, rumored to be nothing but blowing sand for miles upon miles.

Acclaimed author Clare B. Dunkle has crafted a fresh and fast-paced science-fiction thriller, one that challenges her characters -- and her readers -- to look closer at the world they take for granted.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Monserrat Urena
Martin lives in the suburb with his mom, dad, and little sister. But this is where normality ends. The suburb is an enclosed community within the protection of a large dome. Martin has never been outside its limits because the outside is an uninhabitable wasteland. Or so he has been told. His little sister Cassie is one of the "wonder babies," a genetically-engineered, child prodigy model. She is one of a series of children purchased by the inhabitants of the suburb. She and Martin are fully human and are separate child models created in a lab with specific traits. But unlike Martin the wonder babies have dangerous glitches. The children are far too inquisitive and far too self-sufficient for an enclosed world where blind acceptance and gratitude are the norm. As a result, the wonder babies are being taken away to a special school. But Martin cannot stand the idea of never seeing his little sister again, so he sets out to the find her outside the protection of the suburb. What he finds outside is life-altering. This book caught me from the beginning. The pace is quick and the atmosphere is disturbing in its seeming normality. Martin is a strong and likable character. The alternate world created by the author is filled with mystery. It pulled me to read on with the hope of finding some answers. And though this book remains a strong fantasy, sci-fi text, it lost my interest. It all started with the multi-purpose character of "Chip." A cyber-dog, he became the character that did anything and everything to keep the story going. If Martin fell into trouble, Chip magically developed the sudden ability to get him out of it. In spite of these weaknesses, this reviewer can still recommend thisimaginative book. Reviewer: Monserrat Urena
VOYA - Christina Fairman
Don't ask questions! We're the lucky ones. Thirteen-year-old Martin Glass has heard those words every day since arriving as an infant in suburb HM1. The neighborhood consists of identical homes underneath a giant blue dome, where an unseen government has mechanized life and death and everything in between to sterile precision. Surveillance is tacitly acknowledged, even though no one dares discuss it openly. Those who do ask questions end up on television game shows where executioners mete out punishment in the guise of entertainment. One day a stranger arrives to remove the genetically engineered "Wonder Babies" from the dome, including Martin's inquisitive six-year-old sister, as part of an ominous "product recall." Martin decides to do what few have ever done-he escapes HM1 to rescue his sister. With the assistance of his faithful robot dog, Martin discovers in the wilderness the truth about the dome and the brutality of the artificial environment he has left behind. Despite excessive allusions to the mind-numbing potential of technology, the novel successfully explores the dangers of despotism and the role that an uninformed citizenry can have in furthering oppression. Middle grade readers will connect readily with the well-written character of Martin, whose sensitive portrayal evokes a message of hope and optimism. The story is comparable in tone and content to the Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix and to Holes by Louis Sachar (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1998/VOYA December 1998). Reviewer: Christina Fairman
School Library Journal

Gr 5-8- A mediocre science-fiction novel from a wonderful fantasy writer. The setting, a domed suburb in some distant future, seems far too familiar and worn out. Like many books before it, The Sky Inside paints a bleak future filled with mind-numbed people going about their days. And, as always, there is one child filled with the curiosity to break through the mind freeze and find his way into adventure. Dunkle's setting and plot may be overdone and trite, but her characters show her true writing ability. Thirteen-year-old Martin, his A.I. dog, and his sister are well-rounded and thought-provoking characters filled with imagination and real emotions. Fans of science fiction may enjoy the story, even though they've probably read it before.-Lisa Marie Williams, East Gwillimbury Public Library, Holland Landing, Ontario

Kirkus Reviews
Martin's strictly regimented suburban life changes when he gets a robotic dog for his 13th birthday. In Martin's domed suburb, citizens watch game shows, show their patriotism through shopping and vote daily on such issues as the color of the president's drapes. The only disruption in their lives is the presence of the aggressively argumentative genius children who comprise the suburb's youngest generation. Martin's six-year-old sister Cassie is one such Wonder Baby, and he's frustrated with her constant questions. Bigotry against the Wonder Babies is on the rise, and it seems only Martin and his inexplicably intelligent dog are willing to defend them. With his dog's help, Martin discovers his suburb's dark secret. Though not everything makes sense (how exactly did Martin end up with a modified superdog?), Martin's quest makes for a solid, compelling entry in the isolated-dystopian-community genre. In a world well-stocked with genius children, the point-of-view focus through an ordinary boy with questionable free will provides a compelling shift from the expected. (Science fiction. 11-13)

Product Details

Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)
730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


The big television cameras of the You've Been Caught Napping game show prowled in the darkness at the edge of the set, their lenses focused on the old man's face. Mindlessly thorough, they relayed to viewers his iron gray hair, his thick bifocals, and the trickles of sweat that wandered down tracks of wrinkles into his eyes. A thoughtful viewer might have wondered why he didn't wipe the sweat away. But behind the silver podium that displayed a very high score, his hands lay trapped in a pair of strong plastic manacles. That was something those cameras couldn't see.

"You're right again, Dr. Church! You are simply amazing." The handsome host beamed at the old man, white teeth flashing in a tanned face. "That completes the round. What will our contestant do next? Will he take home his winnings?" The audience groaned. "Or will he try to double them with our special bonus quiz?"

The audience shouted and cheered. This was odd because no audience was there. Beyond the banks of garish lights, the cavernous studio was empty.

"It's a big decision," said the host. "He needs to think it over, and that gives us time for a commercial break. We'll be back with Dr. Rudolph Church right after this!"

The lively notes of a familiar advertising tune cut through the studio, and the wildly cheering audience hushed with the flick of a switch. The old man rested his head on the podium in front of him, the one that hid their nasty secret. After all, game shows were rollicking good fun, entertainment for the whole family. Imagine how viewers would feel if they saw the hypodermic needle inserted in his arm.

Meanwhile, in a comfortable living room, two of those viewers were fighting over the remote. The bigger one snatched it away and triumphantly changed the channel, and a buzzing squadron of red motor scooters charged across the screen.

"Martin, you jerk!" said the girl, flopping back onto the sofa. "You always watch these silly races! I wanted to see the rest of that."

"Mom says no game shows," Martin said smugly. "Plus, that one's stupid. 'Who wrote this?' 'What's the term for that?' It's as bad as school."

"I like it," Cassie said. "It teaches me things. And this contestantis amazing. He hasn't been sent off in nine straight shows."

"Big hairy deal," Martin said, leaning forward to grab her bag of chips. "Who cares what happens to one old man?"

Copyright © 2008 by Clare B. Dunkle

Meet the Author

Clare B. Dunkle is the author of the well-received Hollow Kingdom trilogy as well as the first volume in this story, The Sky Inside. She studied Russian and Latin at Trinity University, and also holds a a master's degree in library science from Indiana University. She was a member of the American Library Association and served on committees in ALCTS, ACRL, and LITA. She lives with her family in Texas.

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The Sky Inside 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
SpartanReading More than 1 year ago
My review on The Sky Inside. I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars because it was very interesting. The book talks about what could happen in the future of the world. This book is about a thirteen year old, Martin Glass, that lives under a dome. Everyone tells him that he is lucky to be able to live under the dome. They said that the outside world is to dangerous to live in. Martin has a mom, a dad, and a younger sister, Cassie. Cassie is a wonder baby. Wonder babies are specially engeneered, for their parent's wants and needs. All the houses in the dome are similar and everything is normal in the suburb. Until a man came to the suburb in a boxcar. The boxcar is the only way to get in or out of the suburb. The man takes all the yonger wonder babies including Martin's sister. The man said that he was taking the wonder babies to a special school somewhere outside of the dome. Martin was mad that everyone, in the dome, because they just excepted the idea that a man took all the wonder babies. Martin decided to leave the dome and to save his sister. Martin got out with the help of his robotic dog. If you want to learn more about what happens next then read the book! I recommend this book to any young adult reader. I would recommend it for them because this book has lots of interesting adventures. It makes you want to read more and more. Every chapter you get to builds suspence to the reader. Also This book is about the future. It uses robots and many other cool and interestying things. Many young adults like reading science fiction. They also like futuristic machines and robots.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The idea was very interesting itself, but I was sad to see that the author did not do a great job on writing it. The beginning was interesting, but as the novel prgressed I felt less and less interested. I couldn't even finish the book because I got so bored. I didn't understad what was supposed to be happening, and why the author had to describe every tiny detail.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Friar-by-the-sea More than 1 year ago
From the beginning the story is very engrossing, building an excellent plot...but the ending is ponderous (spoiler alerts) Who exactly did Martin's Father meet with and what is the nature of that authority? Who made the AllDog and what is their agenda? How many models are their beyond dish 14? etc. I enjoyed the questions of citizenship and consumerism raised by this book and I think these could be further developed; leading to an excellent contemplation by not only teens but also adults. This book really needs a part two to complete the journey! A resolution would increase my ratings dramatically. BTW there is NO reason the NOOK version should be so expensive!
sweet2u22 More than 1 year ago
But I don't understand how an ebook could be more expensive than a hardcover copy of the same story.