Review - Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

Current Theme Song (aka what's playing on my ipod right now): The Forest of the Deer God by Joe Hisaishi [Princess Mononoke soundtrack].

My reviews are a bit different than most. As an undercover superhero (ordinary girl extraordinaire), my purpose is to try and uncover hidden gems lost from the familiar radar. Because of this, I have set up some guidelines for myself (just like the pirate code). :)

I will focus on YA and Children's literature (with very rare exceptions).
I will not review any book that is one of the top 25,000 bestselling books (based on Amazon ranks).
I will try and aim for books 100,000 or larger.
I will review recent books or books of great merit (preferably both).

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
Published: 2004
Publisher: Eos
Pages: 355
Current Amazon Rank: #342,586

Author's Website: Here
Want it? Find it here.

The First Line:

Sailing toward dawn, and I was perched atop the crow's nest, being the ship's eyes.

My Take:

Imagine if airships had become the dominant form of sky transport instead of planes (and were, how should we say, far less flammable) inside of an alternate history circa (roughly) 1920, add in a dash of high seas piracy and pursuit of scientific discovery, and you have one excellent story on your hands.

Matt Cruse, a cabin boy aboard the floating airship Aurora spots and saves a distressed hot air balloon with a dying old man inside. Before he dies, he speaks of a remarkable creature that could not possibly exist. One year later, a stalwart and headstrong young Kate de Vries comes aboard the Aurora looking for the very creature described in her grandfather's notes. A bond is formed because of their connection to her grandfather and he agrees to help her. They get a lot more than they bargained for in the process.

The characters are wonderful and alive. I loved the developing relationship between Kate and Matt. It felt so natural, but so did the characters themselves. Kate can be exasperating. The secondary characters have genuine depth and reality to them. And Matt is not perfect. In fact he has obvious fits of jealousy against someone who doesn't deserve his venom, but it only serves to make him relateable and real. And oh my goodness, the kissing scene. Heck. Yes. I was listening to this on audio first and this was the first time I skipped back so I could hear it again. But no, I am not telling you where it is. :)

The story is wonderful, the dialogue utterly organic and natural (it is probably one of his greatest strengths), fantastically paced especially once you get past the first couple of chapters, this story is exciting and the perfect blend of different. Adventure, discovery, high (high) seas pirate action, this hearkens back to the best kind of adventure books but is infinitely fresher and down to earth. So to speak. Highly recommend.

The Final Word: This is the best kind of modern Robert Louis Stevenson imaginable with action, adventure, and thrilling theatrics. Highly recommended for both boys and girls alike.

P.S I love the last line. It made me grin all kinds of silly. But don't you dare read it first, you last page cheaters! It will have no meaning for you if you don't read it start to finish.


Jana said...

One of my all time favorites! You should listen to the audio version, the actor who voices Matt is AWESOME!

Meg said...

Love the book! And of course (as you've said) the audio books are incredible as well! :)I'm looking forward to starting Skybreaker soon!

Kimberly said...

I haven't read it, but now I seriously want to!

Tales of Whimsy said...

I just finished this one on audio and I loved it! GREAT review.