Starclimber - Airborn Book 3
Kenneth Oppel (blog)
This is the third book in an alternate reality created by world-renowned Kenneth Oppel. In this book, the airplane has not been developed but flying machines, gliders, blimps and balloons are the mode of air transportation. The first two books Airborn and Skybreaker have won almost every Canadian children's literary award. Combined they have won: Governor General's Award, Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Award (twice), Red Maple Award (twice), Michael L Printz Honor Book (ALA). They have won 26 awards and been nominated for another 7. The interesting thing is, this was the first book in this series to come across my desk and was read as an independent story. It stands strong on its own and left me wanting to read the first two.
This story is part of the saga of Matt Cruse and Kate de Vries, two young people in love and pursuing higher education to realize their dreams - Matt of becoming a captain on an airship and Kate of becoming a world-class scientist and researcher, especially zoology in the stratosphere. It is also the story of the race to space. The French are trying to build a tower into space, and Matt and Kate are called home to Canada, to be part of Canada's attempt. Kate is outright invited to be a scientist on the Mission. Matt must go through a grueling training regime and compete with over a hundred people hoping to be an astronaut aboard the Canadian ship Starclimber. Matt is a skilled Skysailor but can he compete with so many older and more experienced men?
The story is part science fiction, part romance, and part social commentary. Oppel does an excellent job of weaving the different elements into a cohesive tale that is compelling and addicting. You reach a point in the book where you do not want to put it down. The greatest strength of the story is the incredible characters that seem so real, and the powerful narrative technique used by Oppel that makes you feel like you are there and part of the action. The story has a great pace that picks up speed as it moves along and finishes like a runaway train dragging us along with it, racing to the end.
This is a great novel and like the others in the series will probably win numerous awards.
(First Published in Imprint 2009-03-13.)
Books by Kenneth Oppel:
Half Brother (2010)
The Devil's Cure (2000)
Dead Water Zone (1992)
The Live-Forever Machine (1990)
Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein
This Dark Endeavour (2011)
Such Wicked Intent (2012)
The Silverwing Saga
The King's Taster (2009)
Peg and the Yeti (2004)
Peg and the Whale (2000)
Emma's Emu (1995)
Galactic Snapshots (1993)
Cosmic Snapshots (1993)
Follow That Star (1992)
Cosimo Cat (1990)
Colin's Fantastic Video Adventure (1985)
Barnes and the Brains
A Bad Case of Ghosts (1993)
A Strange Case of Magic (1994)
A Crazy Case of Robots (1994)
An Incredible Case of Dinosaurs (1994)
A Weird Case of Super-Goo (1997)
A Creepy Case of Vampires (2002)