Airborn Review

‘Lighter than air! That’s our Mr. Cruse,’ said one of the sailmakers. ‘Cloud hopping next, it’ll be!’

-pg 25

[Prequel to: Skybreaker, Starclimber]

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

Not only does Kenneth Oppel have one of the best last names I have ever heard, but he has the amazing ability to write an absolutely perfect novel– Airborn.

Airborn is the story of young cabin boy Matt Cruse, who is more at home in the sky than he is anywhere else. He works aboard the Aurora, a giant airship that sails the skies. One night he sees a dying balloonist and after assisting in his rescue, the man tells him of beautiful creatures that roam the sky.

A year later, Kate deVries enters the scene. The Aurora is off to Australia, set forth from Lionsgate City in Canada. Kate and Matt are friends from their first meeting, and she soon invites him into her schemes. For the dying balloonist was her grandfather and she is set on finding the magical creatures he spoke of.

Matt is drawn into her adventure, and as pirates and cloud cats enter the story, the tale becomes richer and richer and filled with so much action and adventure, you’ll find it more than a challenge to stop flipping pages until you reach Oppel’s rather satisfying ending.

The best things about this book are such:

— Matt is an excellent narrator and his love of the sky and sailing is perfectly real to the reader.

— Kate and all the other characters are very well-developed. They have their high points, but they are also flawed in very human ways. Kate for instance can be too headstrong and has a habit of getting what she wants by any means possible.

— The romance in this story is well set up and adds to the tale rather than detracting/ distracting  from it.

— The villan is brilliant. I love smart villans, and this one is a dashing pirate straight out of  a swashbuckler. He’s wonderful.

— The plot is very well paced and while there are some quieter scenes, there is a perfect balance of action to make up for it.

— The writing is excellant. Matt’s world is so well crafted that I honestly thought the fictional gas used to keep the airships afloat (hydrium it’s called) was real. Oppel manages to create a world parallel to ours in many ways, but the subtle differences and good explanations of them (given through Matt’s eyes) make everything seem so real.

— And of course, the ending is good. Nothing to cheesy or too sentimental. Oppel isn’t afraid of killing of characters to make the plot unpredictable. And he isn’t below whipping a character’s strongest belief from under their feet to make the story seem real.

The only thing I don’t like about this book are a few awkward sentences, and one scene (though I can’t quite recall what it was) that seemed a little too long for its own good.

Matt’s a funny guy and his story is definitely one worth reading. And it was good enough that I’ve read it several times now. The whole series is great. For a swashbuckling high-skies adventure, complete with deserted islands, shipwrecks, pirates, and pompous Victorian-era chaperons, Airborn is perfect match.

Amazon link!

Ri’s Rating:


4/ 5

0. Couldn’t get past chapter one for fear of wanting to kill myself. Book induced suicide…

1: Yuck. Ew. Below Average. Probably didn’t even read the middle and skipped to the end.

2. Ok. Would’ve been better if I’d written the ending and everything else.

3. Not bad at all. Very enjoyable. Quite nice. Recommendable.

4. My kind of book. Near ideal, but something was a little off (annoying names, bad ending, that sort of thing).

5. WOW. Makes me wonder why people watch T.V when this is out there. Really liked it. Don’t expect to see this often.

6 and above. What I want my book to be.

Leave a comment


  1. life2d

     /  December 9, 2009

    I did a review.
    But it sucks.
    No need to read it. xD

    • Ri

       /  December 9, 2009

      i know you are dying to get that reveiw to me and see it up in lights!
      send it to me :)!

  2. Bleh. It’s so awkwardly worded though, it doesn’t deserve a place on this blog.
    Want me to e-mail it?

  1. Skybreaker Book Review « The Spotted Mushroom
  2. Starclimber Review « The Spotted Mushroom

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