3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Not your typical Treasure Island,
This review is from: Airborn (Hardcover)"Sailing toward dawn, and I was perched atop the crow's nest, being the ship's eyes." This is a normal occurrence for Matt Cruse, cabin boy aboard the Aurora, a luxury class passenger and cargo ship, and a fitting beginning to this book. What should be a normal voyage becomes an exciting adventure as the Aurora is boarded by pirates, caught in a typhoon, and shipwrecked on an uncharted tropical island where Matt and his friends make an amazing discovery.
This book isn't your typical Treasure Island, however. The Aurora is an airship (think the Good Year Blimp with a full crew and rich passengers) that sails the skies 800 feet above the ocean surface. The airplane has never been invented, and the airships are powered by a light-weight gas called hydrium (a mango-scented gas than all other molecules and pushes any other air out of the space it is in) and propellers to guide the ships through the air.
In this tale, the Aurora, and more specifically Matt Cruse, rescues a stranded balloonist over the Pacificus. One year later, the balloonist's granddaughter, Kate, appears as a passenger on the ship, intent on finding a mysterious creature her grandfather saw on his final voyage. Kate shares her grandfather's story with Matt, who aids her in her quest. Together they face many dangers, including the wrath of Kate's overbearing chaperone, Miss Simpkins, who does not feel that proper ladies should associate with the crew of an airship.
This book is very well written. Kenneth Oppel describes the events, people and places fully, without letting potentially gruesome incidents get to graphic. All of the plot lines intertwine gracefully throughout the narrative until they connect in the book's climax. The characters are interesting and multi-dimensional. For example, Matt's overwhelming sense of duty and single-minded protectiveness of the Aurora contrasts with his sense of adventure and his new friendship with Kate in which he often must choose between her and the ship. Kate is willful and adventurous. She can take care of herself, but is not beyond asking for help when she needs to do so. Even the "villains" in this book have multiple sides. Captain Szpirglas of the pirate ship loots every ship he can, but is only violent when he needs to be in order keep the crew and passengers under control. He also has a soft and caring side that no one would suspect.
The places in this book make it realistic despite the fantasy element of airships instead of airplanes. For example, the Aurora is traveling from the west coast of North America to Sydney, Australia, and the Air Academy where some people study to be airship crew is located in Paris. The book has a historical feel to it, with the oceans called the Atlanticus and Pacificus, the women in long dresses and jewelry aboard the ship, and the notion that women should not have adventures or go to university. The characters, however, have a more modern feel to them, especially Kate, who does not buy into the ideals of her society and intends to make great discoveries of her own and make sure that no one else takes the credit.
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fantasies, pirate stories, adventures or teenage heros.