In 2028, a deadly Flu virus ravages the earth. Only one in two thousand survive the virus, and these "Survivors" are rarely left unaffected. By 2038, only 38 million people remain on Earth. Most of them live in small communities, ever fearful of outsiders who might bring the deadly Flu.
Ceej Kane lives with his uncle and his Survivor sister Harryette in an abandoned hotel on the rim of the Grand Canyon. His quiet, boring life suddenly becomes a desperate adventure when Uncle and Harryette disappear. Searching for them, Ceej and his only friend, Tim, are attacked by the Kinka, a renegade band of half-mad Survivors who spread the Flu to make more of their own. Worse yet, it appears that Harryette has joined them.
Fleeing deep into the Canyon, a narrow land of ghosts and ancient secrets, Ceej and Tim meet Bella, a mysterious Hopi girl. She has been searching the canyon for the Sipapuni, a mystical portal that the Hopi believe leads to another world. Tim thinks Bella is crazy, but Ceej is not so sure. Maybe there is a way out of this Flu-ravaged world. But first they must find out what happened to Uncle, and they must save Harryette from the Kinka -- if she wants to be saved.
As with his earlier novels, Mr. Was and Stone Cold, acclaimed author Pete Hautman pushes the boundaries of young adult fiction. Combining action, science fiction, and spirituality, Hole in the Sky is the rarest of novels: a thrilling page-turner that will make you think.
The prologue to Hautman's (Mr. Was) futuristic tale reads like an excerpt from The Hot Zone: "On November 2, 2028... an eighteen-year-old Ethiopian soccer player named Worku Roba complained of a mild headache.... Seventeen hours later, his ravaged lungs ceased to function, and Worku Roba was pronounced dead." As the story opens, a fatal influenza has killed off most of the earth's population, leaving behind the unexposed and the Survivors, who are now immune but suffer losses ranging from sensory impairment to being delusional. Four successive narrators include 16-year-old Ceej; his friend Tim; his spiritual Hopi girlfriend, Isabella; and his mute, Survivor sister, Harryette, all living "at the edge of the world" (near the Grand Canyon). The plot unfolds gradually: the few adults in their lives are being murdered by a cult of Survivors who believe it their God-given purpose to infect people with the flu, offering them up to the "Judgment of the Divine"; led by the charismatic Mother K (who hears voices), the cult offers a sense of wholeness to the damaged Survivors and a lure for Harryette. Meanwhile, Isabella follows her unshakable belief in a Hopi portal that will lead her (and Ceej) to another, better world. The plot lines intertwine in a crafty climax that, like much of the novel, leaves it to readers to draw their own conclusions. Hautman's ability to tell a story while offering simultaneous interpretations should draw a strong response from teens. Ages 12-up.