Earth & Sky (Earth & Sky #1) by Megan Crewe
Release Date ~ October 28, 2014
Razorbill Canada ~ Penguin Random House Canada (Skyscape in the U.S.)
ARC received from Penguin Random House Canada for review
Seventeen-year-old Skylar has been haunted for as long as she can remember by fleeting yet powerful sensations that something is horribly wrong. But despite the panic attacks tormenting her, nothing ever happens, and Sky’s beginning to think she’s crazy. Then she meets a mysterious, otherworldly boy named Win and discovers the shocking truth her premonitions have tapped into: our world no longer belongs to us. For thousands of years, Earth has been at the mercy of alien scientists who care nothing for its inhabitants and are using us as the unwitting subjects of their time-manipulating experiments. Win belongs to a rebel faction seeking to put a stop to it, and he needs Skylar’s help--but with each shift in the past, the very fabric of reality is unraveling, and soon there may be no Earth left to save.
I loved one of Megan Crewe's others books, The Way We Fall, and I'm interested in reviewing more books written by Canadian authors. The fact that Earth & Sky is a new science fiction read was more than enough to convince me I needed to read this, because Megan Crewe writes science fiction so well!
- Intelligent time-travel:
I'm a very picky reader when it comes to time-travel stories, because they need to be JUST RIGHT for me to accept the time-traveling as purposeful rather than gratuitous and too few books convince me of this. But Megan's conception of time-travel is reasoned out well and very intentional. It's a necessary component of the story and it didn't rely on cheap or cheesy time-traveling scenes or jokes. It also isn't needlessly complicated so that the story flowed nicely.
- Strong character relationships:
One of the things that I find Megan writes really well are strong dynamics between her characters. Her writing allows for natural relationships to develop among the characters, and nothing is rushed or forced. And this is important when so much of the story in Earth & Sky revolves around its two central characters, Skylar and Win.
- Solid world-building:
Earth & Sky excelled in creating a world I could perfectly imagine. The story is like a carefully constructed puzzle, where each piece slowly comes together and the big picture is revealed to the reader. I liked how intentional much of the story was, and how there's a strong, underlying purpose connecting Skylar to the aliens and the discoveries she makes. All of which is hinting at more secrets we have to learn about.
Earth & Sky has a very narrow focus for its story and I was left with further questions about the world and Win's people that I need answered - but I'm glad to see that there was a clear ending to this first book and that a sequel is scheduled to come out next year. Hopefully that will satisfy some of the questions I have!
Another thing I like about Earth & Sky is that it isn't the type of science fiction book that might scare readers away - there's still a contemporary feel to it, to help keep readers grounded in a ore familiar world if they're less comfortable with science fiction. This would actually be a great gateway book to science fiction.
Megan very kindly took time to answer some questions about Earth & Sky I had for her as part of the blog tour! Her answers are so insightful and they tie into the story really well - I hope they increase your interest in reading the book!
Q: The plot in Earth & Sky is one of the most creative ideas I've read in a long time. I was so intrigued by the idea of aliens using Earth as an experiment - it's a great sci fi story! But I'm wondering if you could share what inspired you to write about this?
A: Aliens experimenting on Earthlings is a pretty common idea in science fiction--but usually the aliens are just kidnapping Earthlings here and there, and either returning them after a short time or taking them away to study them elsewhere. When I realized I could combine that element with my base idea of a character who was sensing that things on Earth had been altered, I knew that the aliens had to be affecting the entire planet. The scope of their manipulation added an intensity to the story that I found exciting. And it captured a feeling I wanted to give of how little Earthling life mattered to the aliens--that they were looking down on our planet much like people on Earth might study bugs in a terrarium or fish in a tank.
Q: I'm a very picky reader when it comes to time-travel. But I really loved how you incorporated time-travel as one element of the story. What was it about time-travel that interested you enough to include it in Earth & Sky? Did you find it difficult to write about?
A: Because the story started with the idea of the main character sensing things around her were "wrong" somehow, time travel was really the most essential element to EARTH & SKY. It was the best explanation I came up with (after considering various magical and supernatural possibilities) for how her world might be shifting, and it also allowed for those shifts to not just be a wearing down but people and events having completely changed, which gave me many more avenues to explore. I've always been fascinated by speculation about how the present might change if certain key factors in the past were altered--how one small change might have a massive effect, for example--so I was eager to dive in.
It definitely was difficult, though. It took me a while to figure out the rules of how my version of time travel would work, and even then I regularly ran into scenarios I hadn't considered but that needed to be addressed in a way that fit with what I needed for the rest of the story. At times it got a little tangled! Thankfully my critique partners were a huge help in sorting out what made sense and keeping everything logically consistent.
Q: There are some big revelations in Earth & Sky that surprised me as a reader. Were there any surprises for you as you were writing it or did you know how Earth & Sky would end?
A: I knew all of the big twists before I started writing, but that's mainly because I'm a devout outliner and I never start a story before I have all the key points worked out. But the revelations didn't all arrive with the initial idea, and many of them hit me as I was working out the plot with an excitement I hope they give the reader too. There are also always some smaller pieces that don't emerge until later drafts… For example, the idea of "standard protocol" and how that affected Win's decisions about contacting the rest of his group was something that came up during later drafts, though it seemed obvious when it occurred to me because it fit so well with everything else that was already there.
Q: I always like to ask authors this question about their books, because the answers are so interesting. Personally, I sensed what seemed to be a theme about free will, and I'm not sure how intentional that was. Do you have any sort of a thought or overall message you'd like readers to take away from Earth & Sky?
A: I do always consider theme when I'm planning a book--I find it hard to direct a story unless I know what the main concept behind it is. With EARTH & SKY, free will is definitely a factor. To me, both Skylar and the Kemyates are dealing with a similar struggle between keeping their lives the same so they at least know what to expect and can feel prepared, vs. taking risks in changing the course of their lives not knowing for sure whether those changes will end up being for the better or for the worse. Is it better to stick with an unfortunate but livable situation you know or to risk screwing things up more for the chance at something good? My stance, as I intended to come across in the book, is that you never can be completely certain of what the future will hold either way, so you're better off actively reaching for the life you want rather than hoping things will work out the way you'd like without you having to step up. But I realize readers will have their own perspectives on the issue. :)
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Megan!
And make sure you follow along with the rest of the blog tour and visit other blogs on the schedule to learn more about Earth & Sky!