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This is the third in the "Airborn" Series, succeeding Airborn and Skybreaker. This third novel has been a great anticipation in my book calendar, and one i really wanted to read, but there was something abit odd about it. Matt Cruse, a young aspiring-to-be captain, is studying in Paris, and on his summer holiday, takes a job at the Celestial Tower- a tower built in Paris, aiming to reach space first... but is whisked away to Lionsgate city, to be invited to be part of the Canadian space race... He has to pass a grueling set of tests before he can enter, whilst Kate, his love from the previous novels, a young girl aspiring to be a great scientist, gets an easy free pass. This is just one incident forming a crevasse in their relationship, with others being social pressure, parents and a proposal from a rich tycoon's son. They both end up on the space voyage, and face many more adventures, following their voyage into space, and behold the discoveries they find. I shan't spoil the excitement for you... the plot twists and sudden dangers are still there! Overall, the book follows the same style of Oppel, the characterisation is flawless once again, and there is all the same action, twists and dilemas the past two books have seen. However, this feels rather predictable, and plain compared to the other two, and seems somewhat detached. Whilst it does refer to past incidents, which of course has shaped our characters thus far, and the reintroduction of Captain Walken, of which was in the first novel, the links aren't quite of the same exciting type. No shocking revelations and "WOWing" twists, eg Nadira was Spzirglass' daughter! It was just dilema after dilema, which you kinda guessed would come up and all our characters would survive through. This series has so much potential, and this book falls short of the high standards previously achieved. However, we have to keep in mind that this book is targetted at children, and too much complexion could vex them; yet i think it is more suited to teens and if driven towards that category, it will have so much more scope. The book is solid, but not exceptional, and perhaps the series will need a shocking event, a new original and refreshing storyline, and perhaps a new prominant rival/ enemy or evil person. The Babelites in this just wasn't threatening or involved enough! For £5 at Waterstones.co.uk, this is a real bargain for such a good read, and anyone of any age is suitable for some exciting drama!
I remember hearing some good thigs about Kenneth Oppel when 'Airborn' was published a few years ago but, although I do read a lot of children's fiction (it's my job!) that one passed me by. However, seeing this newest addition I decided to take a look and ended up reading it over a few lunch breaks and really enjoying it. Starclimber is the third in the series, preceded by Airborn and Skybreaker, and falls neatly into the 9-12 age category, though I guess that older fans of Artemis Fowl and Mortal Engines might like this too. As I said, I had not read the previous books but found that it really did not matter - while some reference is made to the other adventures this is pretty much a stand alone story. Matt Cruse is a skilled young airship pilot in familier but slighlty alternative world. The space race is in full swing, with a massive tower, designed to reach the stars, being built in Paris and intense secrecy and competition from other nations. Matt has been working on the tower for several weeks when the story begins, jumping right into the action when one of his co-workers reveals himself to be part of a group called the 'Babelites' (those who believe that man was never meant to reach the stars - the biblical referance is explained in the story) who have planted a bomb to destroy the tower. Matt acts quickly to avert the danger and the story rolls on from here a great pace as Matt finds himself caught up in the race for the stars when his skills are needed to pilot a very special and ingeniously designed craft in a secret project designed to beat the French to space. There is also a love interest from the previous books, plucky and ruthless and dedicated to a belief that there is life beyong the Earth, Kate will stop at nothing to get into space herself - even, it seems, betraying Matt. As our hero struggles with mastering his new role as an astralnaut, his feelings for Kate and the varied dangers posed by his mission and those determined to stop it we are treated to a fast paced action adventure story with some wonderfully odd characters. Some of the humour is laugh out loud funny, especially in the character interactions, and parts of the story really do raise some interesting questions about space travel. All in all, I can see this book being a huge hit with the target audience. A really great read! RRP £6.99 Publication Date - May 2009