The Deadly Sky by David Hill.
The testing of nuclear bombs on Mururoa Atoll in the early 1970’s really rankled with New Zealanders. The Kirk Government sent a ship there to try to stop the tests and of course there were later repercussions with the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in 1985.
David Hill has gone back to the time when France was exploding a nuclear device a few hundred feet above the atoll and radiation was uncontrolled. The sea was polluted, fish died and nuclear products entered the food chain and the environment.
Opinion about the tests was split between those who opposed and those that felt that the tests were necessary to protect the alleged free world from the communists. Without nuclear weapons people were convinced the communists would invade. Nuclear tests therefore were for our own protection. But then the Tahitians and other Pacific nations including New Zealand began saying sure we can wear those arguments but why do it in our backyard. If it is that important do it in France.
David Hill weighs up all this argument through High School boy Darryl who goes to Tahiti and to the island of Mangareva a few hundred kilometers from the test zone. He accompanies his mother who is talking to students who want to come and study in New Zealand.
Darryl sees the opposition in Tahiti and on the island of Mangareva through his relationship with Alicia an attractive girl and her cousin Raoul. Both are bitterly opposed to the French tests.
The relaxed island life is well portrayed by David Hill and the issues are simply explained. He builds the tension up nicely and all the drama is going to come in the flight back to Tahiti from Mangareva on the eve of a Nuclear test on Mururoa.
What I most like about the book was after Darryl’s experience he goes outside and the world has already moved on.
A book for intermediate and junior high school students. It is what one has come to expect from David Hill.