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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel


Picture a world of floating Titanics. Kenneth Oppel puts the character, Matt, on-board a magnificent airship, the Aurora, as a cabin boy. Thanks to a gas called hydrium, air travel is the standard at bustling (air)ports in a time reminiscent of early 1900’s.

Matt meets Kate as when her pilot navigates a tricky landing on his airship so that this first-class passenger and her chaperone can fly across the Pacificus in style.

Kate turns out to be the granddaughter of the mysterious, dying balloonist drifting near the Aurora that Matt had just risked his life to help pull aboard. Kate is interested in her grandfather’s journey, Matt finds out, because she takes seriously his sightings of a magnificent, unknown species of cat-like flying creatures he claimed to spot from his balloon. He had spoken of them to Matt just before he died. Matt was inclined to think the old man was hallucinating.

Just when finding these creatures becomes the central action of the novel, pirates enter the scene. Fending off pirate attacks, surviving crash landings and pirate-napping, daring desperate flights, and rescuing ship and crew all take precedence. Amongst which the strange creatures make their mysterious and magnificent appearance.

At the end of these adventures, Matt and Kate meet for a toast:

We clinked teacups.

“To us ,” Kate said. “We’re fabulous.”

Indeed. A fabulous adventure.

The pirates shoot a couple characters, and 2 die. While sad, it is not gratuitous but in keeping with the characters.



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