Airborn – Kenneth Oppel

airbornOn The Cover: Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a huge airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean, ferrying wealthy passengers from city to city. It is the life Matt’s always wanted; convinced he’s lighter than air, he imagines himself as buoyant as the hydrium gas that powers his ship. One night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting through the skies. It is only after Matt meets the balloonist’s granddaughter that he realizes that the man’s ravings may, in fact, have been true, and that the creatures are completely real and utterly mysterious.

In a swashbuckling adventure reminiscent of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson, Kenneth Oppel, author of the best-selling Silverwing trilogy, creates an imagined world in which the air is populated by transcontinental voyagers, pirates, and beings never before dreamed of by the humans who sail the skies.

Published: 2005

Other Books by this Author:

Silverwing


 

The Review:

I was super nervous when I picked this book up. Kenneth Oppel’s book Silverwing was one of my all-time favourites growing up – yet I’ve never read any of Oppel’s other works. What if this book doesn’t live up to all of my beloved childhood memories of Oppel’s worlds? (No pressure, Airborn!)

Within the first few pages I was immersed. The same feelings I got from reading Silverwing were weaved throughout Airborn, and I felt practically giddy with happiness the entire time I was reading this book. Oppel has a way of sucking me into his worlds, of completely convincing me of his realities, and the excitement and adventure are so solid that I never have a moment of doubt when reading his books.

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Hands down my favourite aspect of this book is being on an airship. The descriptions of the ship flying, sailing, even landing and taking off are majestic. Oppel certainly has an appreciation for the beauty of flight. The descriptions of the airship itself were equally fascinating. Oppel manages to convey a great deal about the ship’s inner workings using very little description, and Matt’s viewpoint was especially well utilized to give the reader an inside view to every working aspect of the airship. I also appreciated that the action itself used every corner of the airship – from the passenger lounges to the outside sails, from the cargo bays to the bridge, the book was inside and out of the airship and I absolutely loved how much the airship was used. It was not just a setting – it was an integral part of the story, intertwined in the narrative itself.

Perhaps the easiest complaint would be to pinpoint the simplicity of the characters. On the surface the characters are young, naïve, and appear as one dimensional – Kate is a rich brat, and Matt has only one desire in life – to fly. But as I progressed through the book I began to appreciate both characters for their subtleties and the nuances of their choices. I do think these characters will appeal to the younger side of YA readers – but the adventure contained in these pages will appeal to readers of any age who only want to soar above the clouds.

Rating: 5 / 5

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Quotations:

“The ornithopter’s drone grew louder. Crouching, I could just see it, behind the Aurora’s tail fins, coming in. It seemed to be hardly moving, wings scarcely beating now, and I thought he would make it first try. But when the ornithopter was only feet away from the docking trapeze, it shuddered and dipped, and I heard shouts of alarm from the passengers as the ornithopter dropped away and banked sharply.” (OverDrive eBook)

“The foliage was so high and thick that I couldn’t see the sky. The humid air pressed against my chest. Great pine-like trees, with slender drooping branches, bristled with spiky flowers. Ferns and fronds and vines and brilliant petals were everywhere. A shrieking parrot flashed by, scarlet and green. Insects chattered in the perfumed heat. I kept looking for the light between trees, the brightness overhead, just wanting to punch through it all. Just wanting a horizon.” (OverDrive eBook)

 

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The Fate of the Tearling – Erika Johansen

fate-of-the-tearlingOn The Cover: In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has grown from an awkward teenager into a powerful monarch and a visionary leader.

And as she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, she has transformed her realm. But in her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies – chief among them the evil and feared Red Queen, who ordered the armies of Mortmesne to march against the Tear and crush them.

To protect her people from such a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable – naming the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place, she surrendered herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign from her prison in Mortmesne.

So, the endgame has begun and the fate of Queen Kelsea – and the Tearling itself – will be revealed…

Published: November 2016

Other Books in this Series:

The Queen of the Tearling
The Invasion of the Tearling

 


The Review:

I was so excited to pick up The Fate of the Tearling and find out what happens to Kelsea and her Kingdom, and I’ll admit this book totally sucked me into its pages from the first lines. This book has amazingness all over it. It finally has all of the action that I was waiting for, there were some great reveals about characters, and the mystery established throughout the first two books finally starts to come together. The further I got into the book, the more I thought, okay Johansen, you know what you’re doing.

Things definitely come to a climax in this novel. Johansen does so well at winding together so many different parts of her story and I was utterly unable to see where the storyline would go. This is perhaps one of my most favourite parts of this novel: That the ending was entirely unpredictable. All I could do was hold on and enjoy the ride.

And then there was the ending. This book is extremely polarizing because of the ending. My own reaction to it was not great: once I finished the book, I set it down and burst into tears. I was so angry at the story, angry at Johansen for taking us there and writing it this way.

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But I couldn’t stop thinking about the ending. The more I thought about it, the more I fell in love with it. It is a heartbreaking conclusion, yes, but so many things are good about it, so many things that are good about this world, good about Kelsea’s character. And no matter how I tried to change it in my mind, I kept coming back to this ending, because of how good it was.

While there are minor things with this story that could have been tweaked, characters that could have been deepened and plot points expanded on, I love this story. It is so unique, so strong, and I think Johansen did exactly what she wanted with it. I admire her story simply for her creativity. I think this is definitely one of those series that I want to go back and read again to really unpack everything that Johansen gave us.

If you are a reader who needs a happy ending, don’t read this series. Don’t. But I absolutely love the bittersweet ending and the level to which this story resounded with me and affected me on a deeply emotional level. This is why I read books.

Rating: 5 / 5

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Quotations:

“They turned the corner onto the High Road, passing the library, where the Librarian, Ms. Ziv, was just shooing the last people out of the door. The library was a huge building, the only two-story structure the Town could boast. Unlike most of the Town’s buildings, which were made of oakwood, this one had been built of brick. The library was Katie’s favourite place, always dark and quiet, with books everywhere.” (p 48)

“‘Row!’ she screamed, but the wind grabbed her voice and seemed to shred it to tatters. No one lived down at this end of town. All of the buildings were closed up and empty at night, but that very emptiness seemed suddenly terrible to Katie, a void waiting to be filled.” (p 170)

“At the thought of the Tearling, longing seemed to wrench her heart. She generally avoided thinking of her kingdom in concrete terms; in this dark cell, it seemed like a good way to go mad. But now she closed her eyes and saw the Almont stretching before her, miles of farms and river, and then New London, her city on a hill. Very different from Tear’s, this city, and sinking just as surely, but there was still good there.” (p 192)