I first picked up Airborn in fifth grade. The book looked a little intimidating at 544 pages. I attempted to push myself through but after suffering from mass confusion a 100 pages in, I felt a bit overwhelmed. I put the book down assuming I wouldn’t pick it back up. 6 years laters, as I was browsing Mrs. Maguires book collecting, I saw the book. I decided it was time to finish it. As I read, I noticed that Oppel wrote with one purpose, to entertain. The book contained everything you could possibly want in a young adult science fiction book: an underdog protagonist, pirates, flying, exotic creatures, new elements and a subtle romance. This book appeals to almost every aspect of the young adult spectrum. This book definitely will not challenge you as a reader nor will it increase your contextual pool; however, if you ever need a light read to get away from the humdrum of everyday life or the screens available every few feet in your house, this is the book to read.
Oppel sets his story in an alternative universe where airships remained prevalent. Oppel also sets it in the past where many of the social norms are conservative. He begins the story introducing the main character Matt Cruse, a low ranking cabin boy who lost his father. Oppel uses to first few chapters of the book to create Matt’s character as a polite, modest boy with a passion for airships. Matt encounters a strange situation at the beginning of the book after finding a man close to death in a hot hair balloon while flying. This characterisation of Matt is key as it gives the reader insight on why and how Matt makes certain decisions throughout the book and it shows how Matt evolves throughout the book. A few months later, Matt encounters an animated girl named Kate De Vries. Matt almost immediately takes interest in her, but knows that a cabin boy and the daughter of a multi millionaire are in no way compatible. Kate immediately establishes herself as a troublemaker and an adventurer. Kate then discovers the man that Matt rescued was no other than her grandfather who had discovered a new species that had never been recorded before. Matt and Kate meet up in secret on multiple occasions, as it is not socially acceptable for two teens to meet alone. Kate and Matt subsequently face all perils that are usually expected in a YA science fiction novel. In the book Matt and Kate encounter Pirates, a crash landing, a new species and too many close calls with death, giving the plots of any other YA science fiction books a run for its money. Although Airborn may not be thought provoking, it is quite the page turner, and it always places the reader in the middle of the action.
In summation,If you are looking for an easy read with a little bit of everything, Airborn is your book. It is an easy read and is long to the point where you are thoroughly satisfied at the end. Oppel, however, captivates your interest and really gets you to relate to both Kate and Matt.