Originally, it had been the cover of Cori McCarthy’s Breaking Sky that had me interested in picking up the novel and giving it a read. The description alone had me hooked. A story about a teenage girl growing up In the middle of war times flying a super-secret military jet? And then that same girl ends up meeting a super-secret fellow pilot and the ball gets rolling on their story? It was a promising premise, however after having finished Breaking Sky I have to admit that the novel wasn’t at all what I imagined it to be.
Set in the year 2048, protagonist Chase Harcourt is one of the junior Air Force Academy’s elite Streaker pilots. With fast reactions, reckless wit and an impulsive form of independence, Chase is renown around the Academy under her call sign ‘Nyx’ as one of the only two Streaker pilots in existence. With her best friend, Pip, beside her both on ground and in the sky, there isn’t anything Chase can’t do.
With America under heavy scrutiny as a world war has broken out with China as the opposing force, Chase discovers that there’s a third Streaker with an up-and-coming pilot of its own. When circumstances force both Chase and this third pilot—Tristan—to meet, she realizes that he’s everything a girl could want. Cocky. Sexy. Dangerous. Intense. But with a war unfolding all around them, Chase is aware that at any given moment she might have to go out and defend her country.
Considering Breaking Sky’s premise I was very excited to be introduced to the novel’s leading lady. Chase appeared to be a strong female character who doesn’t take anything from anybody. I absolutely love female characters who can kick your ass and then walk away flipping their hair over their shoulder (or something along those lines) and eagerly expected much of the same from Chase. However, I found that almost constantly I was unable to truly get connected to Chase as a character. All the reasons that I should have felt bad for her only made me dislike her. I was unable to sympathize or empathize with her character and often wished that we could have been given the story through Tristan’s point of view as a result.
Overall, I had a very hard time getting fully immersed in Breaking Sky. There were a lot of high and low points without much excitement in between. What I can say about McCarthy’s prose is that I particularly enjoyed reading her descriptions of Chase’s flights—which, luckily, occur frequently throughout the novel. Whenever Chase is flying one of the Streakers I found myself falling in love with the prose. The way that the moments are described by McCarthy are very well-done and make it easy for readers to envision the scene in their imagination through the imagery.
Personally, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the romance that was introduced into the storyline. While I do think that a lot of readers who are just entering YA literature will appreciate the side-plot and even swoon over the third Streaker pilot, Tristan, I couldn’t get into it. It all felt very rushed and forced in my honest opinion. I do wish that there had been a bit more slow-burn build-up to the romance involving Chase and Tristan but without it I got a very insta-love vibe.
I would recommend Breaking Sky to readers who are big fans of aviation. Any readers who are also interested in reading a novel set in a dystopian universe that focuses on what can happen in the sky rather than on the ground should definitely give Breaking Sky a read. Any readers who are looking to enter YA and dip their toes in the waters (as they say) should also pick this novel up and give it a go.