by Kenneth Oppel
Review by Steve Sawicki
Eos Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 0060531827
Date: 24 May, 2005 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the airship Aurora, and he's exactly where he wants to be. In fact, life could not really be better. He's on the same ship his father served on, he's well liked, he's up for promotion, he's doing what he loves and he is well liked by the crew. Then, because this is a novel, things start to go wrong. His promotion does not come through when the son of the cruise line's owner comes on, there's an annoying rich girl who is arousing strange feelings in him, and they've made contact with a baloon, much to the disdain of the crew, which contains a dying man and a mystery.
Oppel tells a good story, albeit in a young adult way. I liked the plot and the characters and while I could have wished for a bit more in the way of complexity, there was enough in the book to get me from beginning to end. The setting is an alternate Earth where things are 95% the way they should be with that extra 5% making the blimps and some other things keys to that reality. While the book is not jam packed with action there's enough going on to keep things moving and some interesting scrapes along the way. The characters don't really act out of turn so there are no real surprises on that end and the book is merely the first of a trilogy so it does not so much end as linger to a stop. I'm not sure I'm enticed enough to pursue the next book but everything else being equal I would probably pick it over something else. I'm glad I read the book, which weighs in at a hefty 500 pages. And who knows, maybe the sequel will get them into space, where the blimps really belong.