Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel
Matt Cruse #3
4.5 of 5 stars
Pilot Matt Cruse and high-altitude biologist Kate de Vries join the crew of the Starclimber, as the world’s first astralnaut.
Traveling at night towards the stars, I thought yet again how very far away they were, and how you could travel your whole lifetime and never reach even the closest one… I wondered if Kate was to be my star, and I’d spend my life gazing upon her but never reaching her.
I love this series.
Kenneth Oppel is quickly becoming one of my favorite YA authors. After reading This Dark Endeavor and Such Wicked Intent (prequels to Shelley’s Frankenstein), I started the Matt Cruse series with Airborn and Skybreaker, both of which were fabulous steampunk-alternate history adventures. I loved the world Oppel created (in this one, the space race is taking place between Canada and France!) and his characters are quirky, realistically flawed, smart, and always up for an adventure.
This third book is just as exciting as the first two, and I appreciate the fact that each of the three are a complete story all on their own. This book provided resolution for the series, but also kept it open for the reader to imagine even more adventures for Matt and Kate after the series ends. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it.
Overall: A wonderful steampunk adventure reminiscent of Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon.
Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
4 of 5 stars
Matt Cruse’s normal life as cabin boy of the airship Aurora is changed forever on one extraordinary voyage, filled with pirates, a mysterious island, and a beautiful, dangerous, and previously undiscovered creature.
“This is my home,” I told him dully. And I’d never felt it more than now. I’d bundled everything into this ship, all the good feeling I had; all my sense of belonging was beneath my feet, every hope of happiness. And I thought that at least I would die here at home.
Reminiscent of Treasure Island, this book is full of adventure and daring. The author pulls the reader into his imagined world of giant airships in a way that even land-lovers like myself will find entrancing. Matt makes an incredibly likable protagonist, and the other main character, Kate, is full of spunk and fire.
Though this book is considered a YA novel, some YA readers may find the plot a bit predictable and the characters a bit two-dimensional. (For instance, Matt is loyal; Kate is strong-willed; Bruce is gentlemanly; the captain is professional; the cook is obsessed with cooking; the pirates are ruthless, etc) Despite having some violence and some navigational and airship-related jargon, it seems better suited for a somewhat younger readership than the the typical YA novels.
Overall: A swashbuckling tale of airborne adventure, perfect for young fans of Robert Louis Stevenson.