o I cracked this one open on a flight to San Diego (see my train blog for details) and found out, as the plane rolled to takeoff speed, that I’d accidently found myself reading Young Adult stuff.
And then, fifty miles out and a chapter in, that I was really liking it.
Airborn takes place in an alternate Earth, one where hydrium (lighter and better than both helium and hydrogen) exists. And so airships rule the skies. Certain things are the same, but many of the places (especially in America) are different. And in this odd steampunky world (after all, if it’s got airships, it has to be steampunk) young Matt Cruse leads a happy life. He’s a cabin boy aboard the Aurora, a passenger liner with a good captain, a steadfast crew, and good bags overhead. He’s looking at a promotion to sailmaker, his first step towards his own captaincy. But then, while standing watch on the upper forward lookout blister, he spots something hanging in the dark. Turns out it’s a wrecked balloon, slowly sinking, its elderly pilot near death on the floor of the gondola. And this leads to a tantalizing hint (for what else can a likely lad aboard a stout ship receive in the first chapter or two than a good hint) which gets the ball rolling.
Soon enough, we learn more about the man, his history and his bull-headed young granddaughter, the chipper Kate de Vries. And this leads to high adventure in the classic Treasure Island sense, with exotic jungle lands, weird creatures, long-dead corpses and even (gotta love it) sky pirates. It’s a blunderbuss of a story and all good fun. Even better, you get to learn a lot about airships (as the action takes place everywhere from posh staterooms to drafty catwalks). And all through it, Cruse stays clever and plucky, heading off the badies and doing what needs doing (after all, if he doesn’t save the Aurora, no one will). A good read.
So yes, I’m going to recommend this one. I found it in a used book shop (and got the second in the series while I was there). Looking forward to reading the next. And now that I’ve referred to this one as I wrote this review, I have the perfect YA to give it to.
Have a look!
p.s. Late review – my wife tore through it after I was done and really liked it. So if you don’t believe me…