Review: Sky’s End by Marc Gregson

Sky's End by Marc J. Gregson

Sky’s End (Above the Black #1)
Marc Gregson
Peachtree Teen
Published January 2, 2024

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Sky’s End

Plummet into a kill-or-be-killed competition where a scrappy underdog hell-bent on revenge must claw his way to the top in this thrilling YA fantasy debut.

Exiled to live as a Low, sixteen-year-old Conrad refuses to become heir to his murderous uncle. But Meritocracy is a harsh and unforgiving rule on the floating island of Holmstead, and when his ailing mother is killed by monstrous gorgantauns, Conrad cuts a deal to save the only family he has left. To rescue his sister from his uncle’s clutches, Conrad must enter the Selection of the Twelve Trades.

Hunter, the deadliest of all the Trades, gains a fresh recruit with Conrad. Now he must endure vigorous training, manipulative peers, and the Gauntlet—a brutal final test that yields riches and status to whichever skyship crew kills the most gorgantauns. Forced to serve in the lowest of stations and unseen by all, Conrad overhears whispers of rebellion in the dark. Conrad had never known anything existed below the toxic black clouds of the Skylands . . . until now.

Grab your copy of Book One of the Above the Black trilogy today! This action-packed series is reminiscent of Attack on Titan and The Hunger Games—a great pick for fans of Pierce Brown, Scott Westerfeld, and Veronica Roth.

Sky's End on Goodreads

My Review

From the very first page, this author delivers sky-high stakes. Conrad, banished to live among the poorest people, struggles to earn enough money to keep himself and his ailing mother fed. He longs to see his estranged sister again, and the dream of reuniting his family is the only thing that keeps him going.

He’s got massive trust issues, which, considering that his father an uncle, both of whom had a hand in raising him and controlling his fate, are both abusive jerks, and the women in his life are either absent or terribly ill, makes sense. Though Conrad rejects the toxic behavior of the men in his family, it takes a lot longer for him to reject their teachings. Very late in the book, he not only considers willfully sacrificing a crew member he doesn’t like or trust, but he frames someone for murder as well, again justifying his actions as necessary because he doesn’t like the person.

Conrad’s relationships with women are also pretty limited. Mainly, he rescues them or is traumatized by his failure to rescue them. I was glad to see a story that doesn’t include romance– it’s nice that there are options for readers who aren’t interested or want a break from a romantic plot or subplot.


On the whole, I think the book’s strengths are its high-intensity plot and the friendships built between characters. I’m not sure why this is marketed as young adult literature, though. Conrad is only sixteen, but he’s essentially living an independent adult life. Despite that, the book leaves itself plenty of room to explore subsequent stories in what promises to be a wild ride of a series.

Sky's End on Bookshop

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 14 up.

There weren’t a lot of character descriptions, so I’m not sure about racial representation. Conrad lives in a meritocracy in which physical strength and certain skills are rewarded with better pay and housing. There’s a lot of animosity between the classes. Two characters are gay.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used pretty frequently. Some crude language used.

Romance/Sexual Content
References to characters coupling up.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Situations of peril. Conrad attacks guards who would keep him from accessing his uncle’s mansion. In multiple scenes, characters battle one another for rewards. Some scenes show multiple characters attacking one character. More than one scene shows someone getting stabbed. Conrad’s crew is part of a larger team that fights giant monsters which try to kill them. Some of the team members meet gruesome deaths in monster battles. Conrad speaks to a prisoner who has obviously been tortured.

Drug Content
One person drugs another, leaving them unconscious.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

3 Responses to Review: Sky’s End by Marc Gregson

  1. Not my cup of tea, but I appreciate knowing about it. Thanks for the post.

  2. I think the author has made an interesting world in this one. It seems like it’s for older teens to me because of the content. But if the main character was set at 19+, I think it could be marketed as adult. I often think YA could be adult novels.

    • Kasey says:

      Yes! The world is definitely interesting in this one. Hmmm… do you mean because there’s no romance? Not sure what you mean by the content making it YA. Yeah… the division between YA and adult fantasy is VERY flexible. I read one last year in which the characters were in their twenties and it was still marketed as YA. I’m not sure what drives those decisions, but I do find myself wishing that YA was more centered around teen experiences. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’ll have to think on it some more. 🙂