Blue Sky Black by John Connors
|Blue Sky Black by John Connors|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Fourth in a series about a boy who can command the elements. Satisfying world building and a rollicking adventure.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 228||Date: August 2018|
When Tom Allenby, the 14 year-old boy who can control the elements, sees metal objects and cars rising into the air one night he knows he is facing a powerful enemy. The trail leads to stolen magnetic stones, sinister experiments in an old country house and a village hiding a secret. As each of his friends faces challenges of their own, can Tom fight a force which knows all about them?
Of course he can!
Blue Sky Black is the fourth novel in the Heart of the World series by John Connor. The premise is that Tom, our protagonist, has found a mysterious stone that gives him control over the elements. In each novel, he battles a specific foe and the overall arc is gradually revealing the background of the stone and its significance to both Tom and the whole of mankind.
This story picks up just under a year after the events of book three and Tom is busy with homework and football - neither of which is going particularly well. But these quotidian worries that beset teenagers up and down the land are soon replaced in Tom's schedule by the magnetic disturbances causing cars to rise up in the air and havoc on the rail lines. It's just as well Tom's headmaster is in on Tom's elemental heroics or his marks would definitely suffer!
I won't give too much away but suffice it to say that the adventure and the conspiracy come thick and fast - this is a pacy story with a plot that twists and turns. You want to read it quickly but you also need to take care that you don't miss an important detail. Connors builds tension well as Tom gets closer and closer to unravelling the mystery but he also provides depth as Tom's friends all have their own separate difficulties to face and overcome. I particularly enjoyed the subplot involving Jake, who is in conflict with his father over his father's new relationship with a woman, and must come to terms with his jealousy.
A thoughtful, well-drawn world has been created in this Heart of the World series and it comes through strongly and clearly through its relatable characters. But adventure is at the heart of this series and in Blue Sky Black, Connors has not disappointed. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Connors has included some fabulous author notes at the end of the book, explaining how his original outline changed during the writing process and how various characters and subplots were considered and rejected in favour of the whole. I really like this addition to a Young Adult book: you rarely see such a thing but I think it's a great thing to illuminate the practical and technical issues that go into writing for young people. Any reader with their own writing ambitions will find these notes both fascinating and helpful. I'd like to see more of this in more YA books.
Blue Sky Black works as a standalone read perfectly well but I would be amiss if I did not suggest looking at the preceding three books in the series, which can be found at John Connors's website. And if adventures involving harnessing elemental power appeal to you, you might also enjoy The Starlight Conspiracy by Steve Voake.
You can read more about John Connors here.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Blue Sky Black by John Connors at Amazon.com.
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