Sci Friday - The Pearl Wars

Welcome back to another edition of Sci Friday! 

The Pearl Wars 
(Skyship Academy #1)
by Nick James 

Paperback, 376 pages
Published September 8th 2011 by Flux 
(first published September 1st 2011)
ISBN 073872341X (ISBN13: 9780738723419)

Goodreads Summary:  A devastated Earth's last hope is found in Pearls: small, mysterious orbs that fall from space and are capable of supplying enough energy to power entire cities. Battling to control the Pearls are the Skyship dwellers--political dissidents who live in massive ships in the Earth's stratosphere--and the corrupt Surface government.
   Jesse Fisher, a Skyship slacker, and Cassius Stevenson, a young Surface operative, cross paths when they both venture into forbidden territory in pursuit of Pearls. Their chance encounter triggers an unexpected reaction, endowing each boy with remarkable--and dangerous--abilities that their respective governments would stop at nothing to possess.
   Enemies thrust together with a common goal, Jesse and Cassius make their way to the ruins of Seattle to uncover the truth about their new powers, the past they didn't know they shared, and a shocking secret about the Pearls.

My Thoughts:
My son read and enjoyed this book and the sequel and kept pushing me to read them. When I started it, I was less than impressed. As a dedicated science fiction and fantasy reader, I know it often takes a while to get a world rolling, so I kept with it a while longer. While it won't rank as my favorite young adult science fiction title I'd read recently, the pace improved and the characters developed into people I found intriguing. The plot twist with the secret of the Pearls was really cool, and I want to find out how this plays out. I enjoyed it enough that I intend to read the rest of the series.

The style of the storytelling was interesting, and would make for great discussion in a language arts setting. The sections alternate between showing the point of view of Jesse and Cassius. That isn't unusual - as many of the books I'm currently reading show the story from alternating viewpoints. What struck me as unique was the fact that the Jesse sections were written in first person and the Cassius in third. I'd love to chat with students about how this impacts how they feel about each character, and have them consider why the author chose to write it this way.

Science Concepts:
Energy, alternate energy sources
Environmental concerns
Terraforming (though it all occurs on Earth) - some floating cities, some cities covered in protective "bubbles"

Wonders and What Ifs
What will the political system look like in the future? Will we even recognize it?
How will environmental concerns alter the face of our planet? How can we adapt?
How might humans adapt to new environments? How "extreme" can we manage?

Historical / Political Connections:
I would highly recommend that language arts and history/social studies teachers partner up with this novel. There are numerous connections to be made between current political conflicts and this storyline. Several different government styles have developed in this future world, in response to both terror attack and global climate change. There are taxation issues, multiple party systems, and dictatorships to analyze and discuss.

Narrator: I found this the most intriguing choice, as I mentioned above. It is dual perspective, both teenage boys. There are some strong teen and adult women characters (both supporting the protagonist and as strong antagonists) in the story as well.

Age Range: Middle school and up. The characters are all teens. (battles, some mature references - although not too specific)

(Probably would be a 3.5 for me, but the fact that my son adored it bumps it up!) 


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