Book Review: The Sky: The World by Jessica McHugh

9453982Title: The Sky: The World
Author: Jessica McHugh
Genre: Adventure, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Tours.
Visit the author’s website | Goodreads

Who is Doctor Azaz? It is the 19th Century, and Azazian England is at it’s pinnacle. Aeroplanes rule the sky, and crystalline technology has transformed life itself. But for stunt pilot Jack Racine, life is little more than an endless tailspin into liquor, laudanum, and loose women. But all that is about to change. For Jack Racine is about to have an audience with the architect of the age, the mysterious Doctor Azaz…

As you all probably know, I’m a big fan of Jessica McHugh’s writing. I’ve previously read and reviewed two other books by her: Camelot Lost and Rabbits in the Garden, both whom I enjoyed a lot. I was thrilled to participate in the book tour for another novel of hers, The Sky: The World. Although this book is something entirely different from the two other ones I mentioned, it was a nice and interesting read as well.

The Sky: The World starts out promising enough with pilot Toby and his pregnant wife Sarah crashing down with their plane. Unfortunately, the EPS appears not to be working properly, something which is unheard of because the only two people who know the location of the EPS are the pilot himself and his engineer. When the authorities investigate the bodies of the deceased, they realize two things. Number one, Toby was on laudanum at the time of the crash, and number two…he was a triap. In a world where its normal for people to be born out of a Fertility Pool rather than out of two people making love to each other, being a triap means being discriminated against, laughed at and a lot more. If the Royal Air Force ever found out Toby was a triap, it would have cost him his job. Even after his passing, it costs him his reputation.

Although Toby’s brother Jack is painfully aware of his older brother’s triap-status, he isn’t eager to believe that Toby was on laudanum. Drugs and opium are Jack’s trademarks, not Toby’s. He’s responsible, ambitious, and a good man. He won’t do anything like that, especially not with a baby on the way. Jack realizes right away that something else must be going on. Accidents don’t happen and EPS’s don’t just quit working for no reason. And when the organisation Toby worked for tries contacting Jack as well, he knows that this is his one change to find out what exactly happened to Toby. But although Jack’s suspicions may be correct, he is in for a lot more than he bargained for. The mysterious doctor Azaz, the sole inventor of aircraft, the fertility pool and most of mankind’s inventions might have something to do with why Toby was in Egypt as well…

The Sky: The World is a book with a lot of levels. On the one hand, it shows us a world other than the one we’re familiar with, where every major invention can be accocounted to one man only: the mysterious Doctor Azaz, who has lived for over a hundred years and is apparently immortal and all-knowing. On the other hand, we meet Jack, a young man who struggles not only with himself and the fact that he’s a bit of a loose canon, drinking, sleeping with several women, etc. but also with the fact that he has spent his entire life in the shadow of his father and of his brother Toby. Whereas Toby was the ambitious one, the good and reliable brother, Jack always was the wild one, the irresponsible one. But losing first his father and then his brother several years later, brings Jack to the verge of depression. Determined to clear his brother’s name and to prove he wasn’t on laudanum at the moment of the crash, Jack is willing to do whatever it takes to find out more about the accident, including working for Mr. Pratt, who was Toby’s previous employer.

Jack’s inner struggle will porbably look familiar to a lot of us, and I could relate to it fairly well myself. I was not a fan of his behavior, his constant switching between women (choose one, already!) and his sometimes cruel behavior towards Kat, who has loved him since they were both very young. At times, I didn’t like his attitude at all, although it is in a way understable. Jack grabs booze and laudanum when he cannot longer handle the world, and he has trouble commiting to one person for the same reason as well: whenever it gets tough, he wants to escape. Throughout the book, he does grow as a character, which was all the more reasons for me to like him better. He has sort of this James Bond-esque/Indiana Jones-esque style and attitude, and with the addition of Egypt, ancient Amulets, century-old secrets and the mysterious Doctor Azaz I could not help but imagine him as looking like Indiana Jones as well.

I loved the many notions of aircraft. I’ve never been in an airplane before in my life, but it must feel great to fly through the sky like that, freedom at your fingertips. The mystery surrounding Toby’s death, and how the intrige builds with every passing scene is excellently done as well. Add the dystopian myth of Doctor Azaz, the references to ancient cultures, and you have an adventure novel I personally greatly enjoyed. On the downside though, the pace picked up quite slow, and it took me several chapters to really get into the story, especially as Jack first reminisced about his childhood and his relationship with his brother Toby. I do have to mention that the pace picks up significantly in the second half of the book.

If you like Indiana Jones style novels, then you’ll probably like The Sky: The World as well, although Jack has a lot more depth than Indiana ever had. Jessica McHugh’s writing style, as always, was flawless. A nice read, but I have to admit that I did like her other books better.

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