Sky's End / Marc J. Gregson / Book Review


Sixteen-year-old Conrad wasn't born to be a Low. In fact, he was born to be the highest of the Highs, but he lost all that when his father died—was murdered—and his treacherous uncle took power. The Meritocracy is harsh. That's just the way of the world. Conrad was offered a place by his uncle's side, but he won't stand with a traitor—even if it means exile as a Low.

But when Conrad's mother dies in a gorgantaun attack, he knows he has to get the last of his family back: his little sister. And getting his sister means working with his uncle... kind of. Conrad and his uncle strike a deal. Conrad can come back without bowing to the traitor, but only if he earns it.

And earning it means entering the Selection. Earning it means joining the Hunters, the deadliest of the Trades. Earning it means rising to be captain, surviving the brutal Gauntlet, and killing the most gorgantauns in this Selection year. And in a world of toxic clouds and skies full of ravenous beasts, earning it will be harder than Conrad could ever predict.



This one's a hard no from me. It had so much potential, and all of that potential was wasted. I don't know that I can adequately convey how difficult it was for me to push through this book. The characters are painfully flat. There are no character arcs, no plot arcs. And the writing is so bad, at times it hurt to keep reading. Despite the hype it's been getting, this book just isn't worth reading.


Worldbuilding While in a lot of ways I wanted more from the worldbuilding here, I still found the bones of this world quite interesting. There's a sort of classically YA-dystopian set-up with the High/Low division system in place, and the idea of a meritocracy feels kind of novel (even if it wasn't utilized to its full potential). Add devouring clouds, sky ships, and metal dragons, and this book has all of the elements necessary to be quite promising.

Sky Battles There wasn't a whole lot about this book that I found enjoyable to read, but the sky battles prove to be a high point. Though at times, I found the choreography of the fights a little unclear, nonetheless the epic nature of ship versus flying sky serpent was entertaining. This was the best part of the book--and obviously what the author was most invested in! I wish we had gotten more of this instead of spending so much time leading up to it (can't say "building" up to it, because there really isn't a build-up, just a bunch of other things that happen first).

Sci-Fi Gadgets This book might feel very pirates-battling-sea-monsters, but these ships aren't on the salty waves. They're in the sky, and the ravenous beasts they fight are armored in metal. With magnetic gadgets, long-distance communication devices, and more, this book proves a pretty interesting mix of classically fantasy and classically science fiction elements.


The biggest problem with this book, I think, is the lack of finesse in the writing itself. It is particularly painful and repetitive to read. Right from the start, this book really leans into stating what happened. This happens. That happens. The next thing happens. Conrad's motivations are outright stated multiple times throughout the book, like simple facts, and the writing really follows that cue. I am doing this because of that. Because of that, I am doing this. This... just isn't very good writing, and especially at the YA level (and above), it isn't what readers expect. It was hard to read this book, based simply on the writing alone. This, This, This

I know I praised the bones of this worldbuilding up above... but the execution just wasn't it. The Meritocracy and its class system are interesting, but they leave something to be wanting when the levels of achievement are, quite simply, "High" or "Mid" or "Low." They're kind of just left at that, and the investment in the worldbuilding therefore... doesn't really feel complete. The characters, too, are little more than archetypes with bare-bones motivations. Nobody changes. Nobody has murky intentions that shift and change—motivations with layers, complexity, grayness. Everything is surface level, and therefore nothing is interesting. Simplistic

Conrad starts out wanting revenge and wanting to win back his rightful place in society. And... he continues to want that throughout the whole book. I mean, sure, there is some "growth" thrust upon us in writing—we are told that Conrad has changed—but there is no evidence of it. Conrad starts out being a hard-edged character, aloof and mean, and he ends that way. His motivation doesn't change. His whole plot doesn't affect him in anyway. There is absolutely no character arc here. And what's the point of a book with a lackluster plot if the characters don't grow and change? No Growth



Fans of Victoria Aveyard's Red Queen might enjoy this mash-up of science fiction and fantasy. Those begging for more dragon content after Rebecca Yarros's Fourth Wing might enjoy this new class of less-than-stellar gorgantaun Hunters.


Publisher: Peachtree Teen
Date: January 2, 2024
Series: Above the Black
Add to Goodreads
Buy it HERE

Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


  1. Ouch! Sounds like this one really fell short for you. Though, when I was reading the synopsis, I also thought it had potential. Sorry the execution fell short.

  2. Oh no, that really did sound like it was going to be a good story. Too bad it didn't live up to its potential.

  3. It's such a great cover! Too bad it turned out to be such a disappointing read. Bad writing like that kills a book for me every time. Hope your next book is better.

  4. Oh no! I’m sorry that this one was so disappointing ER!

  5. Oh dear, so sorry this one did not work out for you.

  6. Oh no.. sorry it was not a good read for you. Hate when that happens.

  7. Damn but I can understand if the writing is that bad!

  8. Sorry to hear this didn't work out for you. The cover is pretty. I probably would've DNF. I rarely slog through to the end if it's that bad. Hope your next book is a winner!

  9. Great honest review! It's really hard to get into a story when the writing's not good. Thanks for sharing!

  10. The end sucked

  11. I finished The Red Queen series. But for me, the longer the series went the more the excitement fizzled out. I love the 3rd book so I was expecting so much more on the next. It didn't. I'm still going to watch the series if it comes out though. I like Mare.

    1. I've always wanted to like Red Queen more. The first time I read the first book, I found it interesting. But not enough to immediately jump to book 2. When it became so popular, I went back to finish the series and found it underwhelming.

  12. This book delivered. Do not believe this review. Give the book a try and find out on your own.

    1. I am definitely not going to knock anybody for enjoying a book that I didn't. That's why I always give comparable books, to help a book find its audience. I'm not a big Fourth Wing or Red Queen fan, either, but I can see readers who adored those books also enjoying this one. Just not for me.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Best and Worst of 2023

Win Lose Kill Die / Cynthia Murphy / Book Review