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The Sky So Heavy

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For Fin, it's just like any other day - racing for the school bus, bluffing his way through class, and trying to remain cool in front of the most sophisticated girl in his universe, Lucy. Only it's not like any other day because, on the other side of the world, nuclear missiles are being detonated.

When Fin wakes up the next morning, it’s dark, bitterly cold, and snow is falling. There’s no internet, no phone, no TV, no power, and no parents. Nothing Fin’s learned in school could have prepared him for this.

With his parents missing and dwindling food and water supplies, Fin and his younger brother Max must find a way to survive all on their own.

When things are at their most desperate, where can you go for help?

296 pages, Paperback

First published July 24, 2013

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About the author

Claire Zorn

5 books164 followers
Claire Zorn grew up in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. She studied Fine Arts at UWS and Writing at UTS. She currently lives on the South Coast of NSW with her husband and two small children.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 303 reviews
Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,006 reviews3,599 followers
January 28, 2015
This review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!

If you woke up to the end of the world tomorrow, how would you react? Turn on the TV, check the internet, phone your loved ones. But without electricity and disconnected lines, your next reaction would be to find the people that you love.

Sky So Heavy forces us to think about these things, as one of the most relatable and realistic post-apocalyptic books I’ve ever read. The end of the world is caused by nuclear missiles wiping out nearby nations, causing a long and cold nuclear winter. This premise is so incredibly realistic that you can actually imagine it happening like this. Through the perspective of Fin, a normal teenager in high school, we’ll witness the events immediately before and during the nuclear winter.

“Do you think it’s alright to do whatever you need to do to survive?”

We see Fin in his last few days of normalcy, by going to school, crushing on a girl and picking on a guy at school. Then, the nuclear winter strikes, and his immediate priorities become food, water, warmth and shelter, which eventually evolve into safety, longevity and survival. We slowly see him becoming a protector and a leader, as his decisions become harder and riskier. I liked how relatable Fin was, as someone who is just looking out for his younger brother. He isn’t the smartest or strongest kid on the block, but he’s determined and smart, and that’s what matters for survival. He isn’t without his flaws though, having bullied a guy at school because “everyone else did it”.

There is incredible attention to detail here, as the world slowly gets crazier when the food supplies run out. People will become territorial, scared, and they will turn on one another to protect their loved ones. The only thing that matters is survival, and Sky So Heavy reinforced this with every page.

Trying to save yourself and your family isn’t crazy. People will try to hold on when their world starts to tilt, they will grab onto whatever is in reach. Doesn’t matter if it means throwing punches at your neighbour or pointing a gun at someone’s head.

It was great to see a variety of relationships being explored in the novel, from brotherly to family love, neighbourly relationships, unlikely friends, and even a romance. It doesn’t just stop at though, with the population’s reliance on the government or the army when things go wrong also being explored.

While Fin is quite a serious character, there is a great balance of characters with his brother and the guy he bullied, Arnold. The fierce brotherly love was one of the best parts of the book, with Fin’s 12 year old brother Max being quite vulnerable and strong at the same time. I loved Max and his childish charm, with his refusal to follow Fin’s overprotectiveness, his teasing of Fin and his evil kid smile. Arnold on the other hand, was forgiving, kind, pious, and quick to help Fin when he needed it most. Although he verged on being a little too virtuous, he brought faith to the group when they needed hope, making sure they never lost their humanity. Lucy presented a much needed female addition to the group, and I’m glad the romance never felt forced or out of place.

I was so emotionally invested in the characters that I was crying at the end. I can’t remember the last time this has happened with a dystopian. The ending is left rather open though, which is kind of disappointing given this is a stand alone. I need closure dammit!

I’ve read so many post-apocalyptic stories that rarely focus on the important matters at hand – like food, water, warmth, shelter and safety. Sky So Heavy does it right, by focusing on these few key elements, but also being incredibly multi-layered and well thought out. It’s slow and there isn’t a lot of action, but it was realistic which let’s face it – not a lot of dystopians are.

Sky So Heavy brought back my faith in one of my favourite genres. If you love dystopian or post-apocalyptic reads, this one can’t be missed. Yay for awesome Aussie YA!
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews962 followers
December 4, 2013
The Sky So Heavy is a story of disaster and survival; of human nature in a time of darkness and desperation.

In the wake of a catastrophic nuclear event between unnamed countries, Australia is plunged into a nuclear winter with devastating repercussions. Alone in their Blue Mountains home, brothers Fin and Max Heath struggle to cope as cold and darkness descend, sickness sets in, and food and water run scarce. As supplies dwindle, the fabric of their suburban neighbourhood begins to deteriorate into suspicion and paranoia. Seemingly abandoned by the authorities, their small community is left to face starvation and illness unaided, and hope of rescue becomes increasingly dim.

From the beginning, Zorn delivers a strong, relatable voice in Fin. There’s an immediacy to his narration, a believable edge of wryness to his tone as he describes his ‘whiter than a loaf of Tip Top’ suburb in the Blue Mountains, life with his father and step-mother, his crush on neighbour Lucy Tennington.

Throughout the novel the choices Fin makes become increasingly difficult, with complex consequences. The decisions Fin makes begin to affect him emotionally, as he attempts to reconcile how his personal system of ethics has been skewed by the disaster. The issue of survival at what cost is compounded when Fin and Max join forces with Arnold Wong and Lucy Tennington, and head towards Sydney in the hope of locating Fin’s mother. Faced with the brutal realities of the outside world, there are no simple choices.

Much of Fin’s growth as a character is directly related to his companions: Max, the brother he’s fighting to protect; and Lucy, the girl who can protect herself. But most interesting of these relationships is that between Fin and Arnold. The resident outsider at school, Arnold was bullied and Fin is complicit in this. While it would have been easy to paint the interactions between these characters as Teachable Moments, Zorn carefully avoids this by refraining from any cheesy messages or unrealistic reconciliation scenes. Rather, she presents them as interesting counterpoints to each other: Arnold with his faith and personal tragedy, Fin with his guilt and doubt. Zorn is matter of fact about the racism and prejudice of their world, without excusing or glossing over it.

The most interesting aspect of The Sky So Heavy was, for me, the clear parallels between the post-nuclear event world Zorn depicts and current issues. If you’re familiar with recent Australian politics (and let’s face it, if you live here its fairly unavoidable...) the questions raised in TSSH will have ring of familiarity:

‘It’s like those people out in the ration line complaining about people from over the border taking their share. They have to believe that we’re greedy, ‘cause the idea that we were actually left to starve is just too awful.’

“Border security” (heavy, sarcastic quotation marks) is a major subject of the novel. Inner Sydney has been divided from the outer suburbs, with those on the inside receiving a measure of relief from the fallout. Those attempting to cross the border and seek refuge within the city do so at risk of death. By placing Fin and his companions in the role of refugees, and the not-so-subtly uttered sentiment that they should “go back where they came from”, Zorn’s novel takes a shot at the present fear mongering and moral dubiousness accompanying the issues of foreign policy and asylum seeking.

The Sky So Heavy is a solid, compelling novel of survival and hope. The questions it raises are not easy, nor are the answers. While not unrelenting bleak, this is a confronting novel in it’s portrayal of a country sunk into physical and moral darkness.

You may like this if you liked:

Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsden
Ashfall by Mike Mullin
Days Like This by Alison Stewart
Profile Image for Mary Books and Cookies.
551 reviews406 followers
October 8, 2019
genuinely still as great as the first time, i reread this in one sitting :)

initial review:

I will start by saying that this is a brilliant debut novel and I am definitely going to check out anything else that Claire Zorn releases. This book was phenomenal. I read it in a day and I never felt the time pass. It grips you from the very first sentence and it holds you there until the very last. Amazing story telling, compelling characters, fast paced plot. Everything worked for me in this book. Every single thing.

The book follows Fin, a seventeen year old boy, faced with the responsibility of taking care of his twelve year old brother and find his parents, after a nuclear test goes wrong (was it an accident though?) and the world is thrown into a nuclear winter - temperatures drop, the sun is clouded, there’s huge exposure to radiation, the food is scarce.

First of all, this book scared the hell out of me. It’s not a horror novel, by any definition, but it’s more scary than any horror novel I’ve ever read. Why? Because it deals with something that could happen. It’s not supernatural, it’s not far fetched, it could actually happen. Nuclear war can start tomorrow, given the tensions that are pretty much everywhere in the world right now and the nuclear arsenal that many countries possess. I had a constant feeling of unease throughout the whole book. I felt it deep in my gut and the possibility of a fate like the characters’ scared me a lot. I constantly asked myself: what would I do? How would I react? Could I survive? Who would I trust? Claire Zorn manages to masterfully capture and describe human nature: people driven to violence, people who wouldn’t hurt a fly, but who, in desperate circumstances, when hunger threatens them, resort to unspeakable things. It’s also a statement to our dependence on technology. Without electricity, internet, television, we would be thrown into a world of unknowns. We’re no longer used to information travelling any other way and we rely so much on these things that we’d have no idea what to do with ourselves if they suddenly disappeared. Same goes for everything we take as granted: coffee, a hot shower, freaking soap. We don’t appreciate the things we have as much as we should.

The desperation, the fear, the confusion seeps through every page. More so because we see everything through the eyes of someone who isn’t an adult, who is still a kid and who has no one to turn to. The people supposed to protect him are not there and he is forced to make decisions and to survive. Like Fin says a lot of times, the central idea is this one: "I don’t know". We don’t know if they’ll survive, if there’s going to be a tomorrow, if their parents are alive, if they’ll be able to figure out what to do. We don’t know.

The characters are beautifully written. They’re real, they’re believable, their reactions are spot on. You instantly form a bond and you feel for them so much. You want them to be okay. It’s been a while since I felt this sort of connection with characters in a book.

I cannot stress enough the impact that this book had on me. I’m still thinking about it days after I finished it and the uneasy feeling is still there. The ending is left open and I love that. I love that the fate of the characters isn’t black or white and it’s left open to interpretation. Read this book. It’s absolutely amazing and you will not regret it. Just read it.

Favourite quotes:

"No one has the capacity to disappoint us like our loved ones."

"The night sky is a void, no light, no stars. We are lost to the universe. We can’t see out. I wonder if anyone can see in."

“People will try to hold on when their world starts to tilt, they will grab onto whatever is in reach.”


To everyone who got this far, thank you for reading and have a wonderful day! Also, feel free to share your thoughts, comment or tell me anything :)
Profile Image for Mari.
183 reviews49 followers
April 2, 2015

The book went like:

Boy: Heard about the nuke testing?
Girl: Yah. When will people understand that violence is not a solution smh..

- - -

Girl: You going to the protest?
Boy: Nah, what's the point? It's not like the government's gonna listen to us anyway.

- - -

Class: Dude, chill, that's on the other side of the world, nothing's gonna happen to us.

- - -

News: It could affect the climate for years.
Australians: Bullshit.

- - -

*nuke testing goes wrong; shit goes down in Australia*
Australians: Aw dang it. Surely the government won't leave us alone?
The government: lol

- - -

Seriously, it was so in-your-face preachy. I could just imagine the author being all *wink wink see what I did here???* every single time she tried to make a point.
"'I don't know. I haven't seen the news. I've been at work.'
'Can’t you look at it online, Dad?' Max asked. He looked genuinely puzzled.
Dad sighed. My phone beeped. Lucy? I got up to check. Dad pointed at my seat.
'Sit,' he said. 'Have dinner as a family and then look at your bloody phone.'"


"It's amazing how slowly time goes when you have no electricity. Several times I reached for the TV controller, forgetting we had no power. Kara had given Dad a plasma for his birthday. [...] It's funny how without something as simple as electricity it was completely useless – just a gaping, blank stare of black. Without electricity our house was a box of useless bits of moulded plastic and wiring."

(So much for showing and not telling, huh?)


"I couldn't remember the last time I had done washing-up. Before we got a dishwasher Max and I used to whine about having to do the washing-up and beg for a dishwasher. Mum would say that if we had a dishwasher we'd just whine about unpacking it and we were like 'No way!' But she was right, we did. Spoilt brats."
All of this is just too subtle.
I'm wondering what you're hinting at.

I skimmed through half of the book, not gonna lie. It was boring, badly written, boring, racist, unoriginal, BORING, misogynistic... all things colourful, as you can tell. Awful. Also boring.

There's one quote that I thought was really nice (and very sad, if you take in account the character's background), by a kid who'd been bullied (yeah, that's the background, the MC being one of the people who did the bullying because "OMG peer pressure is a bitch. But otherwise I'm like super innocent!!") his whole life:
"'But how can you believe that a powerful God could let this happen?'
Noll hesitates, thinking. 'The bible constantly talks about how the world isn’t the way God wants it to be and how believers will feel alien here, we will never feel at home because this isn’t our home. And that has always resonated with me. Always.' He doesn't look directly at us (probably because you've treated him like shit yeah) as he speaks. 'God doesn't want this and... and I know that it won’t be forever... and that is why I am clinging on to God. That's all it is – clinging. There’s no beauty in it, no eloquence. I’m not offering thoughtful articulate wise prayers every day. I’m screaming at Him to make it stop."
And that's about it, compliments wise.

The ending is disgusting. There's a plot twist and important characters die for melodramatic purposes . But not the most important ones, because effectively writing an MC's death is hard, and clearly this book is not on that kind of level.

I don't get the raving reviews. Go read The Road (that's mentioned in TSSH, btw, when it is so blatantly copying so many of its aspects) instead.
Profile Image for rachel, x.
1,718 reviews856 followers
August 26, 2016
Last year, I think (it may have been early this year, who knows), I introduced this thing I like to call “soft ratings”. It’s pretty much just my own fancy way of saying that yes, this book is getting a one star rating from me, but no, it doesn't mean I hated it. The Sky so Heavy is just one of those books that I found so utterly boring and bland that I couldn’t find a single thing that I enjoyed enough to justify giving it a higher rating. Yet, at the same time, it wasn’t abysmal. I’ve read worse books. In fact, I’ve read books that were quite a bit worse... but that doesn't change the fact that this book made me fight off yawns at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. It was boring - so, so boring.

It was a clever premise, yes. An apocalypse story without an actual apocalypse. But reading about people snowed into their houses and slowly getting hungrier and hungrier doesn’t tickle my fancy. It was drab. Realistic, yes? But not the sort of books that I could truly get into. I liked that it didn’t hold back any punches but at the same time, what good dystopian would? I don’t know. I just didn’t think this book was particularly entertaining or insightful. I didn’t get anything out of it like I wanted to. I never connected to the characters. I didn’t like the open ending - it felt like the author didn’t have a good way to end the character’s story so she just left it open and pretended it was meant to be meaningful.

I think there is going to be a lot of people that truly enjoy this book. There are going to be people that this is exactly their sort of thing and that’s okay, obviously. But for me, this book was a snoozefest. I wasn’t a fan. I will definitely be trying to read this author’s other books to see what they are like, but I don’t have high hopes, unfortunately.
Profile Image for Jabiz Raisdana.
335 reviews75 followers
March 8, 2015
I really liked this one. It starts off with a bang. Love, adventure, swearing and yes post-nuclear chaos, but than it slows down. Way down and forces the reader to trudge their way through long plodding plot points- while the characters and the mood of this scary winter build. The plot picks back up and the ending is satisfying.

This not a fast moving book, but there are little gems tucked into the prose and deals with the morality of man in the absence of law. Deals with some interesting things like ethics, god and more. Well written and all around solid. Feels more real than books like Divergent, and doesn't play with the same rules of dystopian teen novels. It was a breath of fresh air. Take a chance on this one and be patient, you might learn a few things.
Profile Image for Shannon .
1,221 reviews2,162 followers
November 22, 2013
The day begins like any other day for seventeen-year-old Findlay. Breakfast with his younger brother, Max, and stepmother Kara; catching the bus to school with Lucy Tenningworth; a lecture on social responsibility from his English teacher, Mr Effrez, who encourages the class to skip school the next day to attend a protest against nuclear tests; and studying with Lucy in the library after school.

But the day ends anything but normally. His mother, who works for the government consulting on disaster response management, calls and tells him to go to the supermarket and get as much non-perishable food and bottled water as he can carry and get home. The nuclear tests in Asia have gone ahead and all they know is that the north and Gobi Desert have been hit. Entire countries have been wiped out. There's no video feed from the area, no survivors to say what's happened, but it won't be long before the fallout covers the globe.

At home, Fin's uptight, alpha father is unconvinced of any real danger, and conversation quickly degenerates into an argument which sees Kara leaving for her mother's place and their father following without a thought for his kids. They never return. Fin and Max are on their own as dirty grey snow begins to fall, the power is off and the roads are icy. The phones aren't working, there's no communication from the government, but Fin isn't taking any chances and warns his neighbour not to let her kids play in the snow.

Fin's only idea is to find his mum. After months of living on canned beans and rice and sleeping in front of the fire, the food is running out, they're burning the furniture and then books to stay warm, and it's clear they've been abandoned by the government. If he's going to go out into that now-dangerous, unknown world, it has to be now, before things get worse. With his brother and two friends, Fin embarks on a trip from the Blue Mountains to Sydney in the hope of finding his mother at the heart of whatever command is left, helping to plan the country's response to this disaster.

Leaving town opens their eyes to the full reality of what has happened, and what is being done - or not. Getting into the heart of Sydney is no easy feat, but Fin is determined, if not for himself than for his little brother. Nothing about his world is the same, new rules apply, and death is always just a step around the corner.

I love Apocalyptic stories like this and have read a fair few. This is easily one of my favourites. It's not that it's terribly original - apocalyptic novels usually follow one of a bare few plot structures, since you need to stick to a realistic scenario to make it work. And it's not that it's free of clichés, either: there are plenty of those. But the writing just flows so naturally; Fin is a great character and carries the narration and the story so well; the story has excitement and danger and unpredictability while maintaining realism, making the tension far stronger because of it; and it doesn't become bogged down in trite teenage drama or romance. There's a romantic angle, between Fin and Lucy, but it doesn't take over the story like to many YA novels these days.

In fact, this was easily one of the best YA Speculative Fiction-Apocalyptic novels I've read, right up there with Tomorrow When the War Began, for instance. It's miles above and beyond the interminably dull Life as We Knew It , and spoke to me much more strongly even than some adult apocalyptic novels, like The Age of Miracles . It's not comparable to McCormac's The Road in terms of writing or story, it doesn't have that quality of utter bleakness, but as far as great apocalyptic stories go, it's the details that make both The Road and The Sky So Heavy work - the details and the grittiness. The Sky So Heavy has such a strong sense of realism and tension and Zorn's writing brings Fin's story so vividly to life, that while reading it I had to look out the window from time to time to remind - and reassure - myself that it hadn't actually happened. It was confronting, even nail-bitingly tense at times, and while you know Fin survives, you don't know what he'll lose in the process - or whether he'll survive in the long run.

This is more than just an end-of-the-world Young Adult novel, though. It also raises some interesting and highly relevant political themes. The nuclear testing scenario seems, at first, almost old-fashioned - the Cold War has ended, after all. But thanks to North Korea, it's been very much in the spotlight again in recent years. Zorn doesn't say what country in Asia set off bombs, but it's implied that it's North Korea. Closer to home, the disaster raises an ugly truth: an internal Us versus Them prejudice - not along race lines, as you might imagine with Australia's high Asian population, but along class lines. Who is dispensable, who is worth saving? Not only the country and rural towns are left for dead, but the outer suburbs of the major cities as well. There is only so much food, and anyone considered valuable is brought to the city centre by the army. Everyone else is left to slowly die.

Fin comes face-to-face with this new, heartless reality, and how people justify it to themselves. Fin himself has to face his decision to steal food from another person, and putting the hero of the story into that position adds depth to the realism of the story. The good guy isn't perfect, he's just human. It makes it harder to condemn the people in the city centres who are still receiving handouts of food from the army, who turn on people from outside the fence for stealing their food. Living and surviving is far from black-and-white, and Zorn's strength lies in her ability to present different perspectives and no clear answer with understated clarity.

I did mention that this isn't an original story or plot: an end-of-the-world situation, a survivor who bands together with other survivors, embarking on a journey in the hope of a positive outcome, having to make life-or-death decisions of the kind that affect others, and, of course, there's no real end in sight. An apocalyptic disaster doesn't just resolve itself or go away in a few weeks, like Fin's dad arrogantly declares it will. As for the clichés, the main one is the character of Noll, or Arnold Wang, the lone Asian misfit at school who is taunted but almost never reacts, who turns out to be a solid companion as well as a prosaic, thoughtful young man who makes them face their own consciences. It is the school-outcast-turned-friend that will be familiar to readers, but I love what Zorn did with Noll's character. She doesn't change him, but gives Fin a chance to realise how petty and mean they'd been at school. It's a nice subtle way of reminding teens that bullying others is, well, stupid. The person you bully today may be in the position to save your life tomorrow, and are you worth saving? (We're not talking apocalypses here, but any situation in which you'd need help.)

In a way, the genre itself will always shape the general plot of an apocalyptic story, because it will always have to follow a certain pattern. It's what you do with that structure, those clichés, that make each story different from the others. Zorn's debut novel is an excellent addition to the canon, a great, exciting and nicely thought-provoking story for teens and equally engaging to adult readers. I read this as a stand-alone novel, and I hope it remains so: while there's room for a sequel, I love the open-endedness of the ending, and letting a sense of hope linger in the air like the echo of a dying song. My interest in apocalyptic stories tends to wane if they're drawn out too long, because it just becomes about death and more death, and it's hard to make room for growth and hope in that. I'm happy with this as a standalone novel - I'm not even going to complain about the use of present tense - and I highly recommend it to readers who enjoy survival adventure stories, stories about the heart of humanity and the lengths we are willing to go to preserve human life on this planet. Truly an excellent achievement in the genre.
Profile Image for Bridget.
1,155 reviews73 followers
June 8, 2016
The action begins right from the start, in this fantastic Australian take on the post-apocalyptic world. Fin and his brother Max have been left alone while around them the nuclear winter takes hold. Hard to cope with on every level, but in a place such as the hills of Sydney, this terrible cold is something they have never experienced before. The story of them coping alone, dealing with neighbours in trauma and the ongoing struggle to keep themselves fed and warm is a true survival story. Eventually, they will be forced to take action and team up with others.

The great thing about this book is the relationships, these kids are dealing with something huge and terrifying, their struggle is written so well. I love the way they cope with terrible adversity and from strangers become friends. There are tragedies, and huge decisions to make. Such bravery. I think teenagers will love this. It has been on the shelves of our library for ages but not read, I'm about to give it a huge push because I think that it will appeal to heaps of boys (and girls). Great read.
Profile Image for Catriona.
108 reviews
September 8, 2014
This book caught my attention from the beginning. I initially picked it up because it was short listed for The CBCA, read the first couple of pages because of the cover, and then knew I had no choice but to take it home to read the rest. With engaging characters, an amazing dance between the story and what a post-apocalypse Sydney would look like, and a run of stressful-situations that made me constantly ask 'what would I do', the novel is a cant-put-it-down from start to finish. Literally. I started reading at 2pm and would have had it finished by 11:30 if the need for sleep hadn't overpowered me to demand I leave the last chapter and a half for the following morning.
I would have given The Sky So Heavy 5 stars, but held off because of the heavy language used throughout the novel. I appreciated the stress the characters are under, and see the hard-core swearing as serving a purpose. However, it frustrated me because I would love my thirteen year old to read it, I believe she would love it. And what a fantastic book it would be to recommend for analyses and conversation starters in the classroom! But in good conscious I can't suggest such things, or that my young teen read a book with the level of swearing in it, which increases toward the end of the novel. I wish Claire Azores had been able to find a way of getting the sentiments across without needing the explicit language.
Profile Image for Sam.
578 reviews51 followers
February 7, 2016
I don't know what I was expecting when I started this book, I read Claire Zorn's other book "The Protected" before reading this so I know how amazing her writing is. Because of this I didn't bother even reading the blurb on the back, I just started.

I was and still am completely blown away! I can't even begin to imagine how I would survive the way the characters did in this book. While sitting and reading I couldn't help feeling hungry, I made sure I tasted every last piece of the chocolate bar I was eating, just thinking it could be my last one forever! 

If you're looking for a survival novel with lots of gun fighting and action, then this isn't the book for you. It's wonderful in a different way, it quietly moves you and gets in your head with the decisions the characters have to make and the gritty realistic situations they are in. You forget that they are only teenagers, and have no parents to help them out or be there to support them. Now thinking about it, the parents in "The Protected" were also flawed like the ones in this book too.

Reading the last 30 pages rips your heart out, but at least in the end you feel hopeful. I've read reviews where people say that they want a sequel, but I don't think my emotions could handle a sequel. I want to leave it where I believe they will make it out and be safe until the world starts to right itself again. 
Profile Image for Aussie bookworm.
294 reviews16 followers
August 12, 2013
Most of you know me well enough now, that you know I don't read books in male POV, I made an exception for this book for a couple of reasons, one it is written by a fellow Australian and two It seemed similar to Tomorrow when the war began, which was my favourite book.

The toughest question you could ask a reader like me is what is your favourite book? mostly because I read so many and fall in love with so many it is hard to pick a favourite. To be a favourite it has to invoke all my emotions, I shouldn't be able to put it down without a fight or the opposite that I can't bring myself to finish it because I don't want it to end. Most of all it needs to make me think long and hard after I finish reading, to take time to extract myself from the novel's world.

The Sky so Heavy by Claire Zorn ticked all these boxes, It is the most haunting, heartbreaking and at time heart stopping book I have ever read. I stumbled upon The Sky so Heavy while doing my weekly stalk of publisher pages to see what new books were coming up, I was drawn immediately to the cover, while nothing flashy It portrays a desolate and scary picture of what appears to be kids standing surrounded by bleakness. Straight away I needed this book, Thankfully Penguin Australia were nice enough to send me a copy for Review.

We meet Fin the protagonist while someone is screaming at him in another language pointing a gun to his head, a truly action packed start to the novel, after a few flashbacks we find that Finn has been left in charge of his younger brother Max, after the world goes to hell when someone sets of a Nuclear Bomb and plunges the world into a nuclear winter. We follow Finn and Max as they struggle to survive, Finn gets a bit paranoid about the snow falling worried that it may be radioactive, This instinct keeps his brother alive while others around him start to get sick and die. Food becomes Scarce and the government abandons the people hoping to keep a select few alive, Finn Teams up with other teenage survivors as they set off in hope of finding Finns mother in Sydney who might be able to save them.

Claire Zorn is not afraid to get to the nitty-gritty and makes you question what could you do to survive, how far could you be pushed and could you abandon what you believe is right in order to survive. I would never have thought about the government abandoning the majority of the population in a situation like this, how could someone in charge make that decision? to let women, children, elderly and men die of starvation and radiation to keep just a few alive, how do you make the decision of who is worthy to live and who should perish.

This book like John Marsden's Tomorrow series really strike a chord for me, because here in Australia we think we are safe, we don't go looking for trouble and we back up our allies when we are needed. To consider that a nuclear war elsewhere in the world would destroy so much for everyone, is terrifying, It leaves us, our little country trying to save itself or in the case of The sky so Heavy everyone for themselves. Most dystopias I read are usually set in places such as america or a made up-country after there were no more borders or countries left. Reading books that are set in your own country can really give you nightmares.

This is a brilliant piece of work that I would recommend to anyone who loves Apocalyptic tales of survival, especially Australian's as it hits so close to home. It is a Hauntingly beautiful tale about survival and how resilient the human spirit can be confronted with the unspeakable.

I cannot wait till the next book in the series.

Favourite Quotes

“isn't there some philosophy about how it's the arts that separate humans from animals?
Really? I thought it was not eating our young.”
― Claire Zorn, The Sky So Heavy

“It doesn't sound like a gunshot. But then if I've been shot in the head, my perception of these things is probably off.”
― Claire Zorn, The Sky So Heavy

“Do you want to walk for a bit? It's probably ridiculously dangerous, but YOLO and what not.”
― Claire Zorn, The Sky So Heavy
Profile Image for Vedika.
69 reviews1 follower
January 7, 2017
Wow. Absolutely mind-blowing. But seriously, I'm not joking when I say this made me look up at my ceiling for a solid 10 minutes after I finished and made me question what I would do if this happened to me, and all the people I know.

I loved how this book stuck to the vitals - food, water and shelter, while still thinking about family and keeping the romance at bay, and taking into account how important electricity and phones and transport are in our lives. We say we can't live without our phones, but what happens when nothing works anymore?

The pure fear Max brought to this book; it was the most heartbreaking thing to read.
Lucy brought the perfect balance to this group's dynamic. She truly loved her friends and appreciated everything Fin had done for her- even if she got pissed at him being overprotective.

Honestly in my top three dystopia novels/series. A big five star, and that's being conservative.

-- Thank you, Claire Zorn.

5 reviews1 follower
November 19, 2016
It's been a while since I've found a book that after the first chapter, I can't put it down. Zorn is an incredible story teller who knows how to help the reader visualise easily without needing to go into too much detail. The more you read 'The Sky So Heavy', the more invested one becomes with each of the characters. From beginning to the end, its an amazing story that makes you feel a bit dazed and confused each time you put it down to make a cup of tea.
It's a great feeling when you discover a new favourite author and Claire Zorn certainly is a new favourite of mine!
Profile Image for Lizabeth Howson.
64 reviews8 followers
September 20, 2014
This made me reassess my house in terms of what I could eat, burn and drink in the advent of a nuclear winter.
The cat's days were numbered.
Fast paced writing, and a great moment where our hero is saved by his girlfriend. Many teachable moments.
Profile Image for Yukta.
26 reviews
May 17, 2015
A great book, would recommend as a binge read book. The book can be a bit slow at times, but always remains interesting. Its a good book to read in 2-3 sittings
14 reviews
January 24, 2021
I love how easy this was to read. Perfect level of suspense, action and detail. Some scenarios and ideas were eerily similar to today’s current social and political climate, which was equally awesome and scary. Set in Greater Sydney, it was easy to imagine this happening in real life - I found myself considering what I would do in this situation.

Fin, the protagonist was very relatable and I loved the relationship he had with his little brother, Max. Zorn skillfully evoked emotions of loyalty, love and desperation through the brotherly bond these two shared. Some scenarios they found themselves in seemed to be solved too easily, however, it is a Teen Fiction novel, so I can’t expect too much complexity in the plot!

I’m teaching this to my Year 10 students within a Dystopian Literature unit this year and I know they will love it! Hopefully it will also bring up some great points for discussion about their own lives and the world around them!
Profile Image for Emma Darcy.
458 reviews7 followers
May 22, 2017
I actually did not want this book to finish, and as I read I kept an eye on the diminishing pages with total dismay.
Profile Image for Kristy.
140 reviews39 followers
April 21, 2020
Well, shucks... this is one post-apocalytpic survival that just really didn't do it for me. It's certainly dark, though I felt the writing just didn't quite fit the overall mood of the book, as it breezed along quite quickly.

I just felt that there was no real climax to the story. The whole time they're trying to survive and to find Fin's mother because she will fix everything, and then well.. the outcome was just such a let down, and the ending didn't offer much either.

I definitely didn't dislike this book, but it is all kinds of not-what-I-was-looking-for.
2 reviews
January 11, 2023
Fantastic story. The way Zorn paints this terrifyingly realistic picture of what an Australian apocalypse would look like really helps you to immerse yourself into the story and step into the shoes of the characters.
Profile Image for Michaela.
4 reviews
September 8, 2013
I found this book on the "most read this week" list and was drawn in by the cover and title. Luckily I had an amazon.com gift card, and without reading any reviews, only the summary of the book, I bought it. I read it in six hours, and it's the first book in a long time that I am going to recommend to all my friends.

The story is being told by a male POV, which is a nice change from all the female POVs in YA / Dystopian literature. Also, This was why I enjoyed this book immensely. Too many books nowadays are based on the same principle: Ordinary person, somehow chosen to save the world, to lead a revolution, or to fight an entire regime alone. Not in this book. Fin is very much human, and keeps on being just that. It is very easy to relate to him, to think what one would've done in his position.

That is one of the things that I am still thinking about: What would I've done in his situation?

The scenario in this book is something that could easily happen nowadays. Although someone (or a nation) can be blamed for the catastrophe, there is no one to overthrow in order to establish a normal life again. All figures in the book have been thrown into this situation, and everyone reveals their true colours by dealing with the situation.

I went through a ton of emotions while reading the book. I related to every person in one way or another, I kept my fingers crossed for the four of them on their trip,
Profile Image for Kelly (Diva Booknerd).
1,106 reviews299 followers
July 22, 2015
4.5 Stars
The Sky So Heavy was absolutely brilliant, I simply couldn't put it down and read it in it's entirety in one sitting. There is something so effortless with Claire Zorn's style of writing, it's realistic and gritty and that's a rarity in young adult today. This isn't your average apocalyptic, disaster dystopian, Claire has woven an story that brings the treatment of Australia's asylum seekers to light. I don't consider myself political whatsoever, and really didn't have an opinion either way, but the treatment of the group of teens trying to escape and access the city to survive wasn't too far removed from what happens on our shores each day, and it wasn't until I discovered The Sky So Heavy that it's the first time I've thought about how quick we are to exclude others, believing it's in our best interests to survive.

I loved twelve year old Max, he's sassy and smart mouthed and clearly has the personality and quick wit that bypassed Fin. My only complaint is that I need more, I want to know more about the self sufficient community, the environmental changes and just how the world, and Australia in particular will survive. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for not only a follow up, but the potential for a trilogy even. I have to know what happens and Ms Zorn has left me in suspense. I shall stalk her now until she gives in.
Profile Image for Ananya.
33 reviews3 followers
April 5, 2015
This year, I haven't read any post-apocalypse books, and I picked this up becuase of the first chapter Mr. Raisdana read in class. I have to agree that this book really exceeded my expectations. It started off pretty fast, completly hooking me in. The book then slowed down, but that didn't change the fact that I wasn't able to put it down. Really worth reading this book, and I recommend it to everyone :)))))
21 reviews1 follower
September 26, 2015
I love how consistant and realistic these characters' personalities compared to how they act are. Every character is pretty well made.
I also like how well written the setting and atmosphere of the book is.

This book is extremely Interesting for the first half of it, but then it gets, boring and repetitive.
Once it starts to get going again, the book finished.

That's why I kind of liked this book, but it wasn't great.
Profile Image for Kelly.
13 reviews30 followers
March 8, 2015
Started off fast, completely drew me in, then slowed down for the rest of the book, which allowed the plot to develop at a better pace. I loved this book, it's dystopian but more realistic, as it is about the world after a nuclear accident. Really enjoyed reading this, it was a nice change from all the slow moving books I've been reading.
Profile Image for Un.
373 reviews7 followers
October 16, 2016
- Interesting concept
- Decent characters
- Slightly stilted and unnatural dialogue
- Slightly unrealistic events
- Half-baked ending
- Could've been quite moving, but ultimately fell short.

I might have to reread this without taking extended breaks, so I can wholly experience the novel!

Three stars.
Profile Image for Woff.
238 reviews6 followers
July 4, 2016
Not naming the countries involved in a fictional war is wussy.

Edit: I read this two months ago and already can't remember a thing about it... I think I liked it, but I guess it can't have been very memorable!
Displaying 1 - 30 of 303 reviews

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