Grades 6 & up
with Steampunk, Fantasy, and Science Fiction Elements
Matt Cruse may be the youngest worker on his luxury airship, but he knows he belongs there. In fact, he feels uncomfortable whenever he's on land visiting his family. He's hoping for a promotion, but he doesn't have much time to sit or think, since he's busy rescuing hot air balloon pilots, fighting off pirates, and assisting a young lady as she researches an animal that scientists don't believe can exist. The airship is powered by an element called hydrium, which is covered by a special material which enables the craft to support massive amounts of weight. The creatures Kate is studying are a fictional blend of large cats and large birds, and they prefer to spend their time aloft . . . much like Matt.
This is an enjoyable steampunk adventure story with plenty of action. While Matt, the main character, is the most richly drawn, Kate is also interesting because she is feminine and strong without apologizing for either quality. Matt's worries extend beyond each immediate crisis; he is still missing his father, who died in an accident on the same airship, and he cannot afford to attend the Academy which would give him the opportunity to become an airship captain one day. One of the conflicts I found most appealing was Matt's wish to get promoted, and though he is a deserving candidate, he is passed over for political reasons. What his Matt's subsequent responsibility to use his expertise to help the promoted person when he's in over his head? Further, as a responsible crew member, what is his responsibility to the airship rules vs. his growing trust in Kate and her mission to collect research?
Even if you aren't typically a fan of science fiction, this book offers compelling characterization and realistic fiction sorts of problems, in addition to the action components. It's a fun read with lots of appeal, and worthy of some meaningful discussion.
"Airborn book quote"
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