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Danger Zone

Cori McCarthy’s Breaking Sky mixes military action with a dash of dystopia, and features badass fighter pilots who also happen to be teenage girls.

Danger Zone

BOOK REPORT for Breaking Sky by Cori McCarthy

Cover Story: Fine Grit
BFF Charm: Big Sister
Swoonworthy Scale: 8
Talky Talk: Teenage Top Gun
Bonus Factor: Badass Ladies
Anti-Bonus Factors: Abrupt Ending, Slut Shaming (Sort-Of)
Relationship Status: Mixed Signals

Cover Story: Fine Grit

This cover is … fine. I don’t love it, and I don’t hate it. Pros: It’s gritty—rust and flame and bullet holes—which fits the book. Cons: It doesn’t reach out and grab me all that much, nor does it really tell you much about what happens inside.

The Deal:

In the year 2048, America finds itself cut off from all allies and in the midst of a cold war—a cold war that is rapidly warming up. The American military continues to do their best to be a superpower, however, and has created an experimental fighter jet program that will hopefully turn the tides of war in favor of the U.S.

The catch? The new planes are designed in such a way that only teenagers can pilot them. That’s where Chase Harcourt and her fellow Streaker pilots come in.

BFF Charm: Big Sister

Chase is the kind of reckless, badass girl I would have wished I could be more like when I was her age. She’s willing to take risks, extremely skilled, and looked upon by the other cadets at the junior Air Force Academy as a rockstar because of her job as one of two Streaker pilots. However, she’s had a hard life, so not all is as golden as it seems. She seeks out danger when she should avoid it, she uses boys as distractions, and her parents are, well, terrible. Now that I am older, I realize that some of Chase’s badass tendencies are a bit of a cry for help—and I would love to be her sounding board and/or a shoulder to cry on.

Swoonworthy Scale: 7

While in the air on a routine mission, Chase spots a mysterious plane piloted by a mysterious pilot she just knows is a cocky dude. What she doesn’t know is that she might actually grow to like said cocky dude, once she gets the chance.

Talky Talk: Teenage Top Gun

Chase and her fellow Air Force cadets walk the walk and talk the talk. Thankfully, Cori McCarthy found a way to make the slang and technical terms easy to understand, even for those of us who aren’t familiar with them. But Breaking Sky isn’t just a military story; McCarthy mixes a heavy dose of dystopian unease into the plot as well. It’s as if Top Gun and Red Dawn had a baby, and their baby was a girl with more guts than all of the guys in the movies combined.

Bonus Factor: Badass Ladies

In the world within Breaking Sky, there are only two pilots good enough to fly Streaker jets—and both of them are intelligent, no-nonsense ladies. And, for the most part, they’re respected first and foremost for their skills, rather than for their looks or the fact that they’re women. It was great to read a book featuring such awesome girls. However ...

Anti-Bonus Factor: Slut Shaming (Sort-Of)

The fact that Chase runs from her problems and into the arms of many of her fellow cadets is a big problem. Even bigger is the fact that she drops these conquests as soon as she starts feeling anything real. Bigger still is the reputation she gets for sleeping with all of them, even though she never does.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Abrupt Ending

The action in Breaking Sky takes off at a fast pace and steadily increases until it reaches the peak … and then it drops off like Chase doing a nosedive in her jet. (Once you read the book, you’ll know exactly what I mean.) I understand that drawing out the action would have meant for a much longer book, but I would have appreciated an ending that wasn’t quite as wrapped up in a neat bow.

Casting Call:

Katie Stuart as Chase

Chase has a short fauxhawk in Breaking Sky, but after seeing Katie sport mohawk-like braids in her role as Monroe on The 100, I know she could pull off the style.

Relationship Status: Mixed Signals

Our date was great, Book, right up until the moment you dropped me off at my door. We connected, quickly, and the stories you told made me forget all about the dessert menu (which is a feat, let me tell you). I was on the edge of my seat all night—but was taken fully aback when I went in for the goodnight kiss and you stuck out your hand for a handshake.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Sourcebooks Fire. I received neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Breaking Sky is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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