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    Review of AIRBORN by Keneth Oppel

    Eos, May 2004

    In an alternate Earth, Victorian manners prevail and huge airships connect the continents. Matt Cruse works as cabin boy n the Aurora--the airship his father had also served--before falling to his death. Matt wants nothing more than to stay in the air, become a sailmaker and eventually maybe even Captain. But the airship industry is changing. More and more, opportunity comes to academy graduates rather than to those who work their way up from the ranks. And Matt can't afford the academy or the loss of his paycheck that his family needs so badly.

    When Matt spots an errant hot-air balloon, he assumes an accident. But the ballooner's granddaughter, Kate de Vries, believes her grandfather's impossible writings about spotting a race of flying mammals--animals who never set foot on the ground. She boards the Aurora and befriends Matt.

    When the Aurora is boarded by pirates and damaged, Matt and the crew struggle to save her--but Kate is interested in her science and discovering the truth behind her grandfather's writings. Together, they face the horrors and wonders of the huge cloud-cats, and the frightful pirates.

    Author Kenneth Oppel writes a charming adventure. Matt, with his need to stay in the air to escape his fears, and Kate with her desire to become a scientist are both sympathetic young characters. The airships and Victorian manners give the story the sense of Jules Verne. AIRBORN targets the young adult market--and these readers will certainly enjoy the adventure and mild romance which develops between Matt and Kate. But AIRBORN will also appeal to adult SF readers who are looking for a fast-paced adventure story.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 4/18/05

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