Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Review: The Sky Village

Kaimira: Book One by Monk & Nigel Ashland. Candlewick Press, July, 2008. (Advance Review Copy) This YA fantasy novel is set in the future where humans compete with intelligent beasts and ruthless "meks" (intelligent machines). 12 year old Mei's mother has been kidnapped by meks and her father leaves her with relatives while he joins the battle. Her mother's people live in a hot air balloon village floating over China. Mei has to learn to maintain the balloons, walk the ropes and cooperate in village tasks which include surviving thunder and lightening storms, avoiding the beasts, collecting information from the birds and fighting off meks.

On the surface our other hero 13 year old Rom is taking care of his younger sister and scrounging for food in the ruins of Los Vegas after they are abandoned by his legendary genius fighter father. He is led underground when his sister is taken by demonic beasts. There is a thriving gambling culture going on where human fighters battle beasts and machines under the control of a warlord. Rom gets sucked into the gladiator fights and reveals a startling talent for intuitively controlling his demon.

It turns out both Mei and Rom carry a mysterious gene that allows them to communicate with beasts and machines. They share the chaotic, powerful rage and ferocity of the beasts as well as the chilling intelligent logic of the machines. They also each have been given a strange journal that speaks to them and connects them through stories. As they discover that they can directly speak to one another through the journal they begin to understand their unique powers and their extraordinary roles in the future of humanity.

I found this novel to be fascinating and thought-provoking. After reading how the beast and machine elements are blended with humanity in Mei and Rom I began to see these elements in balance and in conflict within myself. When I am trying to get my little ones organized and out the door on time for work in the morning I feel the beast rage rising in me and struggle to bring cool mek intelligence to bear. I begin to visualize the little control panel triangle of light Rom sees under his helmet and try to balance the red and green corners to achieve mastery.

"Rom was still somehow connected to Spot. His vision returned, and he could see the controls in his mind. The power bar ticked up. The triangle flashed green. Cold rationality spoke to him: Calculate a victory; do not jump up in a blind rage. A whirl of emotions came over him, blending together. A brute instinct to survive. A desire to save Riley. A comprehensive understanding of Muddy and his weaknesses. For the first time, all three aspects were in harmony. Could he control the demon without the triggit? Ramirez had said his father could control his demon naturally, without the use of technology. Did Rom have the same ability?"

I need to practice this strategy to achieve mastery of my daily organization. Or perhaps I'm a little nuts...

I was drawn into the story so much that I found myself thinking about it during the day and looking forward to finding out what was happening to Mei and Rom when I finally got my kiddos into bed and could get back to my book. I resisted the urge to read straight through in one night, but instead paced myself to spread it out over a week so I could prolong the pleasure. I can't wait till the next volume of this five book series comes out.

The official Kaimira Code website

The author's blog where he shows us the process from first chapter to back matter to "pretty much done except..."

Wikipedia

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