Airborn by Kenneth Oppel was forced upon one of our staff while she was in high school and she remembers grimacing at the cover of this book. Little did she know, this would quickly become her favourite book.
Oppel sets this novel in a historical time not quite our own, where airplanes were never invented, and magnificent airships fill the skies. Matt Cruse feels most at home serving as cabin boy aboard the luxury airship Aurora. When the Aurora stumbles across a hot air balloon hanging limply in the sky, she swings over to rescue the balloon’s ailing captain. To Matt’s dismay, the balloonist soon dies, but not before igniting Matt’s imagination with stories of a magnificent flying creature he spotted in the clouds. A year passes, before feisty Kate De Vries boards the Aurora, determined to prove the balloonists claims to be true, and Matt is quickly drawn into her search. However, this flight brings on more than they bargained for when the Aurora is overtaken by pirates far out over the ocean. After their ship is looted and they’re left for dead, Matt and Kate find themselves caught up in an unexpected adventure.
Oppel’s rich first person story telling is captivating and full of surprises. Matt’s character is endearing - a responsible young man in stark contrast to Kate’s wilfulness and unpredictability. For anyone who loves mysterious creatures, pirates, tropical rainforests, and a little romance, Airborn is the adventure for you.