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Young Adult Fiction General

Big Big Sky

by (author) Kristyn Dunnion

edited by Nalo Hopkinson

Red Deer Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2008
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2008
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 14 to 18



Rustle is a young scout in a tight-knit female warrior group of five. They're trained to be aggressive, quick thinking, obedient-though for what exact purpose they couldn't quite tell you. But somehow the group is falling apart now. The leader Shona turns out to be a traitor to them. Roku has disappeared. Rustle has failed to show her killing skills in a crucial test of courage, and is feeling quite separate from the others. Loo is a true warrior, ready and able for action of the most extreme kind, though Rustle's private yen for her has not dimmed. Solomon, the healer of the group, is a steady hand, but not even her stability can save them.

So when their StarPod is transported to the Living Lab, they all know that it's time to make a run for it, or else they'll be deplugged - finished, dead. It takes a lot of wit and energy, but eventually they make it to the outside of the great mountain where they've been raised and trained and programmed-and here for the first time they behold the big, big sky of the real world."

About the authors

Kristyn Dunnion is a self-professed "Lady punk warrior" and the author of the novels Big Big Sky, Missing Matthew, and Mosh Pit (all Red Deer Press). She studied English Literature and Theatre at McGill University and earned a Masters Degree in English at the University of Guelph. She performs creeptastic art as Miss Kitty Galore, and is also the bass player for dykemetal heartthrobs, Heavy Filth. She lives in Toronto.

Kristyn Dunnion's profile page

Nalo Hopkinson co-edited So Long Been Dreaming, an anthology of science fiction and fantasy by writers of colour, with Upppinder Mehan. She is the internationally acclaimed author of Brown Girl in the Ring,Skin Folk,and Salt Roads. Her books have been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Tiptree, and Philip K. Dick Awards; Skin Folk won a World Fantasy Award and the Sunburst Award. Born in Jamaica, Nalo moved to Canada when she was sixteen. She lives in Toronto.

Nalo Hopkinson's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Dunnion writes with verve and elegance. The prose flows smoothly; the action, while at times confusing because of the multiple narrators and points of view, moves forward strongly. Engaging main characters, varied and unique secondary characters, coldly scientific villains, a well-paced plot, timely themes, graphic dialogue, a skillfully designed social structure, and detail-rich descriptions combine to present an unusual and intriguing speculative novel.
Highly recommended"
CM Magazine

"What a great story. Most of the time I couldn't put it down."
Resource Links

"The exceptionally talented and completely unique author, Kristyn Dunnion is back with a brilliant new Sci-Fi novel."
The Kingsville Reporter

"The verve of her (Dunnion) language and the strong rhythms of her prose give this dystopic tale a vivid earthiness. . . The strength of the story is in the intimate, complex relationships Dunnion depicts as she shifts perspective from one character to another, and in her ability to make us see our Earth anew."
The Toronto Star

"The language is easily accessible and enhances the believability of the fantasy world."
Bureau County Republican

"Appealing to readers who appreciate the experimentation of language and the exploration of story."
Canadian Children's Book News

"Big Big Sky is an incredibly difficult book to put down. Dunnion's narrative is fast-paced, and each pace brings a new challenge. . . This excellent novel is highly recommended for fans of science fiction and dystopian narratives."
Curled Up With A Good Kids Book

"Highly Recommended."
Hi-Rise Community Newspaper (Don Mills)

"Pushing the YA envelope about as far as it can go without being an actual mail bomb, Dunnion has put together something like a mix between Mad Max and the new Battlestar Gallactica. From Loo's first words, "Blaaty whafa, Rustle?!" the novel thrashes along with inventive invective that isn't quite foul, but obviously is. Buried in the gore, however, is a novel that is as poignant as any other YA story of deeply felt teen alienation, be it by new authors like Castellucci, or classic ones like S.E. Hinton. That it takes place in an Alien Nation just cranks it up a few notches."
Montreal Mirror

Librarian Reviews

Big Big Sky

Big Big Sky is a techno-futuristic, rage against the system, army girl sorority meets punk story, coloured in shades of neon against a grey world. The science fiction genre is Kristyn Dunnion’s playground as she paints a wired canvas that is a discourse for girl power (and sexuality) and the nature of unlearning the reality you’ve been fed; the reality that keeps you in check but, concurrently, denies you true freedom.

The first-person narrative alternates between Rustle, Loo and Roku – three of the five members in a warrior group of Starpod, the underground colony systemized to the core by the cold, selfserving ScanMans. This is all they’ve ever known until changes start to manifest in their bodies that now put them in the category for deprogramming. Their escape to the surface forces them to face a new reality, acknowledging the changes in themselves within a different social order. Complete with what could be the future generation of slang, the novel brims with refurbished words and new terms that reflect the hip ‘netspeak’ culture burgeoning in society today.

Some of the technical editing issues that jarred with me – split infinitives and some noticeable spacing errors in the text’s print – will not detract from the novel’s unique qualities, appealing to readers who appreciate the experimentation of language and the exploration of story. An initial suspension of disbelief will allow for the pieces to fit and form a larger picture as the plot develops to a satisfying conclusion.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Summer 2008. Vol.31 No.3.