Written by: Kenneth Oppel
Published by: HarperCollins
Release date: May 11th, 2004
Genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Steampunk, Young Adult
Buy: B&N, Amazon
Add on: Goodreads
Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a huge airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean, ferrying wealthy passengers from city to city. It is the life Matt's always wanted; convinced he's lighter than air, he imagines himself as buoyant as the hydrium gas that powers his ship. One night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting through the skies. It is only after Matt meets the balloonist's granddaughter that he realizes that the man's ravings may, in fact, have been true, and that the creatures are completely real and utterly mysterious.
In a swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenneth Oppel, author of the best-selling Silverwing trilogy, creates an imagined world in which the air is populated by transcontinental voyagers, pirates, and beings never before dreamed of by the humans who sail the skies.
I was excited to read this because it was heralded by many reviewers to be a “steampunk Treasure Island“. Well… it was definitely that. By which I mean, it had the feel of a much older, piratey classic, rather than a modern YA book. It was published in 2004, granted, but that’s not that long ago.
I was hoping for some more in-depth plot and character-development. What Oppel delivered was pretty simple in both areas: a plot driven by airship shenanigans and island mystery; and characters that I felt weren’t given enough depth to be taken completely seriously.
That being said, the reason I did still enjoy Airborn was the airship shenanigans and island mystery. There are plenty of twists and turns in this adventure, and the setting couldn’t have been better. I’m a sucker for a good airship, and the Aurora was great.
There just wasn’t enough spark for me in the character department, so sadly I don’t think I’m terribly interested in what happens to Matt and Kate in either of the sequels.