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Airborn Mass Market Paperback – Illustrated, May 24, 2005
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About the Author
KENNETH OPPEL is the author of numerous books for young readers. His award-winning Silverwing trilogy has sold over a million copies worldwide and was adapted into an animated TV series and a stage play. Airborn won a Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award and the Governor General’s Literary Award; its sequel, Skybreaker, was a New York Times bestseller that was named Children’s Novel of the Year by The Times (London). His other books include Half Brother, This Dark Endeavor, Such Wicked Intent, The Boundless, The Nest and Every Hidden Thing. Born on Vancouver Island, Kenneth Oppel has lived in Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, as well as England and Ireland. He now resides in Toronto with his wife and children.
- Publisher : HarperCollins; 59848th edition (May 24, 2005)
- Language : English
- Mass Market Paperback : 544 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0060531827
- ISBN-13 : 978-0060531829
- Reading age : 13 - 15 years
- Lexile measure : 760L
- Grade level : 8 - 9
- Item Weight : 9.8 ounces
- Dimensions : 4.19 x 1.09 x 6.75 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #68,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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This feels like a middle grade, early YA adventure. With the airship and the alternate technology it is steampunk, but that aspect isn't heavily featured and the tech frames and informs the story but doesn't dominate it. In a similar vein, there's swashbuckling adventure that makes this a direct descendant of high seas pirate adventures, but again that's mostly for flavor and atmosphere.
Our two primary characters, mild and modest but daring and stalwart Matt, and sassy, spirited Kate, carry the burden of the story effortlessly. Matt is an engaging narrator. Kate is a worthy and equal companion in adventure. Neither is loaded with quirks and while they aren't developed deeply they are fleshed out as completely as necessary for this type of adventure.
This is a modest, well crafted, imaginative, good-hearted, good-humored adventure. It's crisp, clear, fast paced and briskly plotted. It doesn't always go for big effects, and its appeal to me was built up from a number of small observations, events, descriptions, bits of dialogue and characters. That's what made it seem especially appealing for newer and younger readers testing the water for this type of fiction. As such, it struck me as a fine and entertaining introduction to the genre.
First, the story itself is entertaining and creative. It isn't at all formulaic. It has a good balance between fantasy and reality. The era is nearly the same as the early 20th century, but there are enough subtle twists to make the reader suspend disbelief and accept the possibility of existence of strange creatures and undiscovered islands. For instance, the gas used to make the airships ligher than air is called "hydrium". The metal of the airship is "alumiron". There are continents named "Europa" and "North Americus". It's just delightful how Oppel's world in Airborn is almost, but not quite, the same as ours.
Second, this is a really, really well written book. The writing technique is great. The mood is consistent and the vocabulary is just right for young adults. We're told the story from Matt's perspective, and to me his character, that of the female protagonist Kate, as well as the other main characters, are all well developed with just the right amount of introspection. The descriptions of action are great. The pace is even, and kept my attention enough that I finished the book in a couple of days. I've read a lot of young adult fiction, and I really think that Oppel is the best writer for young adults that I've read.
Third, the book is perfect for general audiences. It shows that you don't need to have a lot of profanity, violence and sex to sell books and interest readers. My son is a pretty typical teen who likes Eminem, Robin Thicke, South Park, Family Guy, etc. But he also loved this book. As a parent, it was great to see my son enjoy a book with a hero who has a sense of duty, works hard and loves his family. There's no profanity and not much violence (and no graphic violence). There's certainly romance, but nothing risqué. One last thing- although the story 's central character is a boy, Matt, I would recommend this book for both boys and girls. Kate is every bit as interesting and well-developed a character as Matt.
Top reviews from other countries
This book had the lot. It's a rip-roaring yarn of adventure set in a world where airships rule the skies and danger lurks for the unwary. Think Treasure Island meets Jules Verne. It would be the perfect YA read, except for the fact I'm over 50 and really enjoyed it. This was my first book by Kenneth Oppel, but it most likely won't be my last.
I also enjoyed it. Plenty of derring do.