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Young Adult Fiction Dystopian

The Limitless Sky

by (author) Christina Kilbourne

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
May 2022
Dystopian, Survival Stories, Recycling & Green Living
Recommended Age
12 to 15
Recommended Grade
7 to 10
Recommended Reading age
12 to 15
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2022
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2022
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Finalist for the Arlene Barlin Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy, 2023 CCBC Book Awards
Rook and Gage live worlds apart — but somehow they must find a way to help one another survive.

Trapped in a life she didn’t choose, Rook struggles to find meaning in her appointed role as an apprentice Keeper of ArHK. Even though her mam soothes her with legends of the Outside and her da assures her there are many interesting facts to discover in the Archives, Rook sees only endless years of tracking useless information. Then one day Rook discovers historic footage of the Chosen Ones arriving in ArHK, and she begins to realize her mam’s legends are more than bedtime stories. That’s when Rook begins her perilous and heartbreaking search for the limitless sky.

Gage is also trapped. Living on the frontier line with his family, his is a life of endless moving and constant danger. As he works with the other scouts, Gage searches for the Ship of Knowledge to help his society regain the wonders of the long distant past, when machines transported people across the land, illnesses could be cured, and human structures rose high into the sky.

Will Rook and Gage escape the traps and perils that await them in order to save each other’s worlds? If they don’t, it could very well mean the end of humanity.

About the author

Christina Kilbourne was born in Southwestern, Ontario, then moved and spent her elementary and high school years in Muskoka, a resort area two hours north of Toronto. She graduated with an Honours BA in English Literature from the University of Western Ontario in 1990 and completed her Masters degree in Creative Writing and English Literature at the University of Windsor, Ontario. Upon graduating Christina travelled across Africa, Mexico, Central and South America and has lived two years in New Zealand, her husband’s home country. Christina has worked in various jobs writing for newsletters, brochures, handbooks reports and websites for such organizations as CIBC Bank, the Auckland University of Technology, the Regional Municipality of York, and most recently, Conservation Ontario. Christina currently lives with her husband and two children near Mt. Albert, Ontario.

Christina Kilbourne's profile page


  • Short-listed, Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice Awards — Snow Willow Award
  • Short-listed, Arlene Barlin Award for Science Fiction and Fantasy (CCBC Book Awards)
  • Commended, CCBC's Best Books for Kids and Teens, Starred Selection (Fall 2022)

Excerpt: The Limitless Sky (by (author) Christina Kilbourne)


From down the street, I can see the Fixers set up outside our door, repairing the sky.

“It’s about time,” I complain.

“Are they finally replacing the piece that hit Sparrow?” Ruby asks.

I nod and we stop at her corner to watch the figures working in the distance. One of them is at the top of the scaffolding with a trowel. Two others are on the ground bent over buckets, mixing plasterflex and paint.

“When was that? Two weeks ago and they still haven’t fixed it?” I hear the outrage in Ruby’s voice.

“The Fixers didn’t even contact us to apologize for almost killing a seven-year-old.

You should have seen the bruise on her back.”

“It’s inexcusable, Rook! They shouldn’t have let it get to that point of disrepair. What if other pieces started falling off? Your mam should submit a formal complaint. That’s the only way to get things done.”

Her face is flushed with indignation, and I can tell by the way she’s twirling the strap of her personal messenger that she’s ready for a fight. She loves rules and to make sure people follow them. She’ll be a perfect Governor one day.

I shrug but don’t commit either way. Even though Ruby has been my best friend since before I can remember, I’m more of a live-and-let-live kind of girl. Sure, they should have noticed the crack in the sky before it became dangerous. But I know the Fixers are busy. They have a lot of repairs to keep up with and complaining just makes everyone miserable. Ruby says my complacency drives her mad, but I call it patience.

Before she heads home she straightens her vest and pats down her hair. Hers is a very proper family — they have to be as Governors — and perfectionists to boot.

“Message me later?”

“Of course,” I say. “With so much excitement in the Keeper household, I’ll be bursting to tell someone.”

Ruby ignores my sarcasm and bounces off down her street. Even though it can be hard to take sometimes, I admire her energy. It was no accident that she was a three-time recipient of the ArHK Apprentice School Spirit Award.

When I get to our pod, I pause. The Fixers have spread a drop cloth in front of our door.

“Uh, is it okay if I go inside?” I ask, and point at the 78 on the arch above our pod.

“Sure thing,” one of the Fixers says. “The cloth’s still clean. You won’t track any mess inside.”

Although I know Mam and Sparrow must be home, the pod is quiet when I step inside, that is, until I close the door and the latch clicks into place. Then Sparrow rushes from the kitchen and just about knocks me off my feet.

“Rook! Rook! Can you take me outside to watch the Fixers?”

She’s jumping up and down and clapping her hands, as if she needs to release some of the excitement stored in her wiry little body.

“Why don’t you watch out the window?”

“I tried that but I can’t see past that scaffold stuff.”

“I just got home.”

Sparrow stops jumping and crosses her arms. She lowers her head and scowls at me from behind a veil of dark hair.

Beyond the noise of the Fixers, I can hear Mam chopping vegetables. The tap is running, and the radio is playing a new release by the Entertainers.

“Mam! Sparrow wants to go outside and watch the Fixers,” I call out.

“I know, but I’m in the middle of making dinner, and I don’t want her to go out alone. She’ll get in the way,” Mam defends herself from the kitchen. I have to admit that Mam has a point. Sparrow is very curious.

“What about Da? Can’t he take her?”

“He’s still at the Archives. Finishing a report for Governor Hawk.”

Sparrow crinkles her nose at the mention of Governor Hawk, and I shiver in response. Neither of us are fans. He has a way of lurking around corners and appearing out of thin air. I’ve always imagined he’s hollow inside, like if he ever took off his robes you’d find out he’s just a head hanging on a long hook. One time, when Ruby and I were Sparrow’s age, we set up a pretend school outside with our dolls. He stood across the street and watched for so long we ended up going back inside. When I complained to Da and Mam, they said he didn’t have a family of his own and was just lonely, that he enjoyed watching us play. But it felt like he was waiting to catch us breaking a rule so he could tell Ruby’s parents that I was a bad influence. He’s never liked me for some reason, or my family come to think of it. It’s nothing I can put my finger on, but it’s like there’s some weird history there.

“Please, please, please will you take me out? Just for ten minutes?” Sparrow pleads. “I’ll do whatever you say.”

I smile down at Sparrow. I knew the minute I walked inside that I’d take her out to see the Fixers at work. After all, it’s not every day they repair the part of the sky that almost killed you.

“Okay, come on. I’ll stand out there with you for a few minutes if you promise not to touch anything and not to ask the Fixers any questions.”

Sparrow squirms with excitement and slips on her walking shoes. I take her hand and we ease ourselves through the front door. Then we join the growing crowd on the opposite side of the street to watch the Fixers repair the sky.

Sparrow manages to stay in one spot, but she doesn’t stop talking.

“Mam told me there was a time when people lived in a limitless world. It was before she was born though. It was before her grandmam was born. Even before her grandmam’s grandmam was born. The sky went on forever, she says, and it was blue, just like our sky, but it didn’t stop. Mam says back then you could throw a ball as high as you wanted and it didn’t bounce back.”

I know exactly what Mam has been telling Sparrow. She told me the same Creationist stories at bedtime when I was little. I used to believe Mam’s stories, but now I know they are exactly that — stories, like the fairy tales our ancestors brought with them to ArHK.

“Mam says the outer edges went on forever too. I don’t know how that could be, though. Nothing goes on forever,” Sparrow muses as she watches the Fixers smearing blue plasterflex over the hole in the sky, hiding the dull grey subsurface.

“What about time?” I suggest. “Time goes on forever.”

Sparrow thinks for a moment, then says brightly, “I guess you’re right!”

“Did Da ever tell you how water used to fall from the sky, back when it used to be limitless? The Outsiders called it rain. And sometimes frozen water fell that they called snow,” I say.

“Would it hurt when the rain fell from the sky? The way it hurt when the sky fell on me? Did the Fixers have to come and repair the sky after the rain fell?” Sparrow asks.

“I don’t know. You’ll have to ask Da when he gets home.”

“We sure are lucky to live in ArHK, aren’t we, Rook? We’re lucky to be descendants of the Chosen Ones.”

Editorial Reviews

The Limitless Sky is a riveting read that will easily be devoured in one sitting!

Muskoka Style Magazine

A provocative premise.

Kirkus Reviews

Like The Giver and City of Ember, The Limitless Sky opens our eyes to a new take on a dystopian future, and the power young people have to change it.

Colleen Nelson, Governor General’s Literary Award Finalist for Harvey Holds His Own

In a dystopian world created from floods, fire, and wind, Christina Kilbourne brings together those who escaped and those who endured, separate but still together to make a new world. It’s a gritty story born of unease but reaching for hope. And it's only the beginning.

Helen Kubiw, CanLit for Little Canadians

Rook and Gage are smart and curious teenagers who live far away in a dystopic future that has everything to do with us, here, today. The emotional connection to them is immediate, and the fast-paced narrative makes it impossible to put the book down. As Rook and Gage find answers to their questions, we as readers cannot help but question our own answers to the most pressing issues in our world. The plot is so cleverly woven that it is never predictable and, because this story is as visual and gripping as the most enthralling and successful novels in this genre, The Limitless Sky should make its way to the hands to every reader who enjoys dystopian novels and is up for a great adventure.

Martha Bátiz, author of No Stars in the Sky

In a gritty read that will work for middle-grade readers as well as teens, The Limitless Sky begins a new story for a future that may or may not be.

CanLit for Little Canadians

In the futuristic isolated society known as ArHK, where the Outside is a terrifying notion and conspiracy theories abound, Christina Kilbourne captures the existential angst of the blowback from a climate change disaster to perfection. A riveting page turner, poignant and deftly conceived, and quite possibly prescient — what our planet could potentially look like in a few centuries from now if we don’t wake up and smell the smoke. The Limitless Sky is a cautionary tale for the twenty-first century that should be recommended reading at this crucial and pivotal moment in the climactic history of planet earth. Climate change could actually look like this eerie dystopian world sooner than we could ever imagine.

Deb Loughead, author of The Secrets We Keep

This compelling apocalyptic adventure blends two dystopian realms and will leave readers anxiously wanting more.

Calgary Herald

The Limitless Sky is a well-balanced cli-fi adventure with a satisfying mystery. Taking a classic science fiction trope — an isolated population learning they are, after all, not alone in the world — and unraveling it through the eyes of the young heroes, Gage and Rook, Christina Kilbourne keeps the intrigue high. The likeable protagonists walk through very different worlds, facing very different dangers, but both are equally engaging. The threats never let up as the story unfolds in a wholly satisfying way. I was left wanting more more more!

Tash McAdam, author of Blood Sport and Sink or Swim

Kilbourne’s worldbuilding is strong… Highly recommended.

CM Magazine

Fun, exciting, and masterfully crafted, Christina Kilbourne paints a vibrant and all-too-real future that reminds us that when we work together to seek knowledge, hope itself has no limits.

Amanda Sun, author of Ink and Heir to the Sky

A compelling tale about lost and forbidden knowledge and two teens who risk their lives to uncover the truth.

Sylvia McNicoll, author of What the Dog Knows

Beautifully creative, Christina Kilbourne builds a future world with a limitless sky of imagination. A bold adventure that exemplifies life as the “Chosen Ones.” ArHK is an indestructible space that some humans will dare to inhabit if we continue to prioritize technology over keeping the planet happy. The Limitless Sky is an addictive read with an intriguing plot that draws you in from the get-go.

Candie Tanaka, author and artist

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