Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Sky Inside

The Sky Inside

Clare B. Dunkle
Fiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Simon and Schuster, 2008   ISBN: 1416924221

Martin lives in HM1, a “suburb” that has a domed roof over it that prevents residents from having access to what lies beyond that roof. Every aspect of the inhabitant’s lives is carefully controlled. Every morning the people living in HM1 vote on some presidential matter, helping him to choose the color of his curtains for example. Every day they watch the television, in particular the game shows and the advertisements. Martin has never seen the sky, he has never felt the sun on his face, and he has no idea that birds are real. Martin, and all the other children in the suburb were not “born,” instead they were grown in a lab somewhere.

Martin’s life begins to unravel when the latest child model, the Wonder Baby, develops problems. These children are so smart that they want to know everything. They are full of questions, and they are not adapting to life in HM1 very well. The later children models start to pick on the Wonder Babies, and Martin finds himself picking sides. His own sister, Cassie, is a Wonder Baby, and even though his own parents are critical of her, Martin loves Cassie, and he does what he can to protect her and the other Wonder Babies.

Martin is therefore appalled when his parents and the other parents of the Wonder Babies give their children away to some stranger who arrives at HM1 claiming that he is going to solve the “problem” of the Wonder Babies. He is going to take them to a “special school” where their “special needs” will be met.

After his sister is taken away from HM1, Martin decides that he has had enough. He has to get out of the suburb. He has to risk everything to find Cassie. Even though he doesn’t know what exists outside the dome, Martin decides to leave the only life he has ever known.

This thrilling, often disturbing, and completely addictive tale will delight readers who enjoy science fiction stories. Martin’s world is terrifying in many ways, and readers will find themselves hoping that he finds a way to escape a fate that is, surely, almost worse than death itself.