Sunday, January 18, 2009


Kenneth Oppel
HarperCollins Publishers Canada 2004

This book had me hooked from page one. Young Matt Cruise, cabin boy aboard the luxury airship "Aurora," adores flying. With three generations of air force pilots in my family, and my own fascination with everything that flies, I understood him at once. More at home in the sky than on the ground, he dreams of working his way up to ship's captain one day. Then, a routine voyage turns into high flying adventure with sky pirates, crash landings, uncharted islands, typhoons, and a girl with a camera determined to find evidence for a creature that no one else believes exists.

Think of this book as a cross between Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, with a delightful dose of humor thrown in. Sure, the constant hair breadth escapes strain the willing suspension of disbelief, but that's why they call it escapist fiction right? Everyone keeps having narrow escapes. That's what makes it fun.

As much as I liked Matt, I found the girl character a bit tedious. She was bold, stubborn, plucky, and that was about it. Clueless for such a well educated lass, her poor decisions necessitated a few extra narrow escapes. Not my kind of heroine.

Even if they weren't the most subtle and sophisticated characters, the cast certainly had a lot of personality. My favorite character may have been the airship "Aurora" itself, so well described in the book I almost felt like I'd been aboard myself.

A very entertaining book. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Somewhat violent, but otherwise unoffensive, I'd recommend this book for middle grade readers and up.


  1. I loved this book. It was fun and completely clean. I didn't mind Kate DeVries at all, but then I'm a guy who loves the White Mountains series by John Christopher, so my wife considers my judgement somewhat suspect. The world and characters of this book feel quite pleasantly real-- a great place to visit altogether.

    As an engineer I find it amusing to see how often airships show up in books and movies. They are cool in theory, but there are good reasons why they were quickly supplanted in real life.

    The one negative comment I have about this book is its unrealistic aversion to guns. The author clearly doesn't like them at all and goes to great lengths to keep his heros from using any. This was not much of an issue for this book, but it becomes quite ridiculous in the otherwise very nice sequal "Skybreaker". However, I wouldn't let this discourage anyone from reading these excellent books. I am anxiously looking forward to the next sequal.

    -- Tom D

  2. Hi Tom! Thanks for stopping by. Sorry I missed your comment... I should set this blog to e-mail me when someone comments so I can reply.

    Thank you SO MUCH for sending us the Heir Apparent! Love that book, but never bought a copy. Colin is consuming it right now.