Airborn (Matt Cruse #1) by Kenneth Oppel


Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Genres: YA Adventure, Fantasy, Steampunk

Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the airship Aurora, a luxury liner ferrying wealthy people from one place to anotherIt’s the life he’s always wanted; his father was a sailmaker and he believes he’s lighter than air. After rescuing a dying old man from a balloon wreck, he is told that there are beautiful creatures in the sky, ones that humans (except him) have never seen before. Skeptical, Matt learns that the man died the next day.

A year later, Kate de Vries goes aboard the Aurora, intending to see what her grandfather saw when he set out on a balloon expedition. Only after befriending her, and surviving a pirate attack can Matt start to believe that what the old man said could be true.

Kenneth Oppel is an amazing writer. I had the pleasure of meeting him a while back at a festival over here, where he was promoting Half Brother, another book of his. Since it was a festival, and he’s a pretty big deal, along with the fact that there were hundreds of people there, I was mainly ignored after he autographed my paper, even after I said that I loved his books. Hurts. Anyway, I read Airborn during Grade 5; it was totally awesome, so I immediately read the second book that I got from the library with Airborn (by the way, “airborn” is not a typo). I freaked out when I found out we didn’t have Starclimber, and it was this huge deal for me because it was like, the big finale where your mind will probably explode of awesomeness. Just saying.

One of the main reasons why I really liked this book was because it was from a guy’s perspective. I haven’t mentioned this before, because I realized it just now. It’s balancing to read from his point of view, because I find that usually in books girls portray things differently than guys do, especially if it’s in first person. I find that usually, if the protagonist is a teen girl living in the present (even if she’s in a paranormal book, as long as she’s a teenager), then the chances are pretty good that there’s going to be a boy introduced sooner or later, or there already is a boy, and she just spends time thinking about him, and other things that are typically on a stereotype-fitting teen girl’s mind. Sometimes it’s good to take a breather from that, and lose yourself in other perspectives.

The plot was great; although since I read it a couple years ago and I read it again recently, I can’t recall exactly when I was surprised. It had all the makings of a great plot. When the book started, it was already exciting, because Matt was on crow’s nest duty, and had sighted the failing hot air balloon. It was also he who had to swing out of the crane in midair, more than a couple thousand feet high. So already then, you’re on the edge of your seat, waiting to see what happens (obviously he makes it; why else would the book be more than 300 pages?). When Mr. Oppel feeds you the plot, everything’s paced excellently. There were no drags, as far as I could tell, and nothing was resolved too quickly and left me unsatisfied. The climax was nail-biting, thrilling, and eye-widening. In relation to other books, the climax was longer, although people could have different thoughts on when it began and ended. Nevertheless, it’s exciting.

Matt and Kate are awesome. Kate is, in my opinion, an awesome role model for girls. She’s headstrong, intelligent, and independent. Sneaky, too; she outwitted her dry chaperone many times in Airborn. Matt is brave, realistic, and ambitious. He doesn’t seem like the perfect hero with no flaws and will save the damsel in distress (like Kate would let him), which is why I like him. He’s also very comfortable in his surroundings, and has always believed that he belonged in the sky. Like I said before, he’s realistic, so he’s got problems of his own, like how he’ll support his mother and sisters home in Lionsgate City (he’s Canadian, and Kate comes from Lionsgate City, too), because his father died on the job and he’s the main breadwinner in the family. A couple times you see that Matt gets jealous of Bruce Lunardi, the son of the owner of the manufacturer of the Aurora, especially since he took the position that Matt wanted, he’s rich, apparently handsome, and he knew Kate before Matt did.

There’s some romance in this book, mainly between Matt and Kate. It’s not really focused on much, because the main plot is different, and I don’t even think that it’s a major subplot. It’s the second one, in my opinion. Mr. Oppel drops hints, though, that Matt likes Kate. I won’t be a spoilsport and tell you what happens in the end, except that they keep in touch.

The setting is really unique. I don’t know if there’s an official word for it, because it seems like it’s in a different universe, where some things have changed, like the fact that airships are there instead of airplanes, there’s a ship called the Titanica, and there are places like Europa, and the some of the oceans are called Atlanticus and Pacificus. It’s familiar, but different at the same time. It’s not a dystopia, or a utopia. Also, you can’t really put a finger on when it happens. All I can figure out is that it’s not in present day, because life seems simpler and it isn’t muddled with the technology that we have today.

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel is an awesome book. If you like steampunk, fantasy and adventure, you will not be disappointed! Airborn will leave you amazed, and if you liked that one, you’ll love Skybreaker and Starclimber! I will definitely review those.

The First Bit


Hello! So I thought that today I’d start off with putting some old writing of mine up here. You know, not reviews, but stuff like creative writing. So this is something I wrote a couple months ago, and it’s a fractured fairy tale. The idea of posting it came after I read the prompt for the August chain on Teens Can Write, Too! When I first wrote it  I asked a couple of my friends to edit it, but editing a 16 page draft seemed daunting to them (even though I told them it was double spaced. Didn’t make much difference). Only one of my friends actually edited it in whole, and her response was “It’s cute.”

The story is a (hopefully) new take on The Little Mermaid, which I called…The Little Merman. Obviously I was very original, as evidenced by the title. Oh, and another thing: I went by the Disney version, I really don’t like the non-Disney version, since there wasn’t a very good Happily Ever After in it.

Anyway, here is the first chapter of it, and I hope you enjoy . Feel free to critique it, I really need it. I can’t wait to hear what you guys say!

The Little Merman

Chapter 1

What year is it now? Okay, go back a century. Then another. Then another. And maybe another. Alright, that should do. Now the story starts.

A long time ago, in a land not so far away, there lived a young girl. Her name was Lily. Lily had everything: joyful friendships, a loving family, lots of money… what else could a normal girl want? A lot, actually. It also didn’t help that Lily was not a normal girl. She wanted more freedom. She wanted to explore. Even at the tender age of 10, she wanted to see the world. Unfortunately, even as they tried their hardest, her parents couldn’t see why she wanted to go. According to them, she was perfectly fine here. So they set some limits, and tried in vain to squash her dream. It wouldn’t be fit for an inexperienced princess to go travelling about the large, frightening world outside the kingdom, now, would it? Still, Lily would keep questioning her parents on why she wasn’t allowed to go. This was how it usually went.

“Mum, isn’t it so pretty?” Lily sighed dreamily, while staring out a window of the castle.

“What’s so pretty, dear?” asked her mother, barely glancing at her while she embroidered and sat daintily in the sunny part of the stone room.

“Outside, mum. It looks so charming; with all the lovely cottages, the green, grass and the cattle, and far away, do you see that? Mum, do you? Those are the mountains, where they say the snow falls really thickly. And the beach! I want to go there, mum.” She said, looking bright eyed and very excited.

Lily’s mum, the queen of Anthesia, looked warily at her daughter. They’d been through this conversation a hundred times before. “Dear, you know you can’t. Papa and I know what’s best for you. And what’s best for you is to keep you safe. We can do that best if you’re in the castle; however, I can see that you’re feeling rather restless today.” Lily raised her eyebrows, not believing that the queen only saw that now. “So,” the queen continued, “I will allow you to stroll in the gardens, but only if you have two guards with you at all times, understood? You may go now.” She dismissed Lily with a wave of her hand.

Outside the room there were already two guards waiting for her. She sighed, and resigned herself to skipping all the way down the corridor. The guards marched alongside her, and easily kept up with their long strides.

Soon Lily was only walked, and was very aware of the guards’ presence. She glanced at the sea beside her; she didn’t realize that she walked that far.  The sun glinted off the smooth water, temporarily blinding her. Gulls floated lazily above, and the wind off the water was cool. She stood there silently admiring everything, and wished that she could just dive under the water. Little did she know what would be waiting for her underneath if she did…

What’s down there, you ask? A paradise. Not just any paradise. This was a kingdom called Aquaria, ruled by the Sea King Neptune. Soon, one of his six sons would inherit his throne. It would most likely be Seth, since he was the oldest. Young Prince James, however, only had a chance if all of his other brothers had gone, since he was the youngest.

Now, even back then, this saying had worth: “The grass is always greener on the other side.” James, like Lily, could not stop fantasizing about what was on the other side. In Aquaria, the young merfolk couldn’t visit the surface world until they reached the age of 16. James and his siblings were each born a year after the other, so every year one more of them were able to go up to Terra .  James listened to all of the thrilling adventures with happy eyes and a wistful heart; he wanted to go there more than anything, but it seemed like it would take forever.

 

Thanks so much for reading it! I’m kinda nervous, putting it out here, because I’m the type of writer who writes something, thinks it’s good, looks at it 2 weeks later and absolutely cringes at every sentence. Well, not so much with this, but you get the idea. Crossed fingers.

P.S I realized this a couple days after I wanted to post it. My main characters’ names are James and Lily. Turns out Harry Potter influenced me more deeply than I thought.

Ruby Red (Ruby Red #1) by Kerstin Gier


Ruby Red (Ruby Red #1) by Kerstin Gier

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Genres: YA Adventure, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Romance, Sci-fi

Time traveling runs in Gwyneth Shepherd’s veins. There’s a mysterious gene that allows certain women in her family to go back in time. All her life, she thought her intelligent, classy and otherwise perfect cousin Charlotte would be the gene carrier. Suddenly Gwyneth gets thrown back in time, and replaces Charlotte as the gene carrier and the one that everyone pays attention to.

Now Gwyn has to find out why her mother hid her true birthday for 15 years, meet the man who started everything, including their secret society, and work with Gideon De Villiers, the male gene carrier. Soon Gideon’s presence becomes less annoying and irking, and more essential.

They need to discover who they can trust back in time. Or else they may not get home.

Okay, let’s just get this straight. I saw this on a list at TeenVogue.com titled “25 Must-Read Summer Books“. I read the description, and started obsessing over it. So an after0effect of that was having rather high expectations of the book, which I think was unfair of me and made the book seem worse than it really was (it wasn’t horrible).

So. I thought Ruby Red seemed promising. I mean, it had time travel, which i thoroughly like (see this review and you’ll know why), plus it had a hint of a romance that didn’t seem to dominate the whole plot. I got that from the summary written at Teen Vogue.

Here is what I thought after reading the book.

The first chapter was slow and uninteresting. it was one of those where my reaction was “Alright, this is happening. What’s next (so we can get this over with)?”, not like “Oh my gosh this is actually happening!” followed by a squeal. The prologue was one of the good parts. It made me think, because it was confusing. I managed to get that they were talking about Gwyn, it happened when she was born, the 2 people were a man and a woman, and they were in love with each other (the guy proposed and she said yes).

Another thing that didn’t wow me so much was the characters. Everyone seemed so typical. There was Gwyneth, the girl that no-one pays attention to much, and lives in Charlotte’s shadow. Charlotte’s the typical Miss Perfect; the complete package with good looks and brains. Then Gideon came along and became the “unbearable-turned-adorable” love interest. If this happened anywhere else, and it played out well, then I wouldn’t mind; I might even be shipping! In here, though, it’s a different story. I didn’t ship at all.

Another thing about Gideon: his personality didn’t seem realistic. In one part of the book (don’t worry, this isn’t a major plot point, so it’s not really a spoiler. Much.), Gwyn sees Gideon comforting Charlotte about her “loss” of her position as the gene carrier. Gideon’s saying things like Gwyn wouldn’t erase the memories they had of each other, and I think at one point he even insulted Gwyn to make Charlotte feel better. Of course, being Gwyn, she immediately assumed that Gideon loved Charlotte. It also seemed that in the first bit after Gideon’s introduced, he treats Gwyn like she’s inferior to him and Charlotte, and basically he’s just really rude. After Gwyn gets scared, though, he comforts her, and it’s like he turned likeable with a snap of someone’s fingers.

Another thing I’m slightly miffed about: the time traveling. Before reading this, I looked up how time traveling worked on (what else) howstuffworks.com. They had so many theories, and I managed to get most of them. They were rather complex, and I couldn’t help but compare it with Ruby Red, and I felt that it contrasted with time travel’s simplicity there.

The plot seemed like it was missing a problem. The whole story’s based on Gwyn going back in time, doing pretty much nothing but meeting The Count (I’ll leave you to discover who he is). There was no real problem, as far as I could tell. The conclusion didn’t wrap things up too well either. It’s extremely open, and leads directly into the next book, Sapphire Blue. It seemed like Ms. Gier left us with a cliffhanger. It’s not even a good cliffhanger. If you get to the end you’ll see what I mean.

A thing I did like about Ruby Red was that it took place in London, England (there are a lot of Londons in the world, as evidenced by the 2012 Summer Olympics :D). Even though I’ve never been to London, or even Europe, for that matter, I still love it. The thing is, (oh, here I go again :() the settings aren’t described too well. Pretty much the only places she described a lot were the Temple, Gwyn’s house and street, and maybe her school.

My end opinion of Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier was that it was disappointing. If any of you read it, and totally agree/disagree with this post, you can tell me so in my comments 🙂

 

This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1) by Kenneth Oppel


This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1) by Kenneth Oppel

Rating: 4 out of 5

Genres: YA Adventure, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Horror, Romance, Sci-fi

Victor and Konrad Frankenstein are two inseparable 16 year old twin brothers who live in the Gothic and imposing Chateau Frankenstein. Along with their cousin Elizabeth and their friend Henry, they’ve explored every unknown passage and room in the Chateau. But they’ve left out one: The Dark Library. It has forbidden books written in ancient languages, filled with dangerous information. When their father finds out, they’re banned from returning there. 

When Konrad becomes gravely ill, Victor knows he has to find the fabled Elixir of Life’s recipe in The Dark Library. It needs only 3 ingredients, but there are plenty of challenges to threaten the fulfillment of their search. Victor can’t lose. But everything relies on how far he’s willing to push the limits.

I found that This Dark Endeavor was an extremely well-written book. Of course, I have to say I expected as much, because it’s the work of Kenneth Oppel, who wrote the Airborn trilogy (which I loved. Just saying). Initially, I was slightly hesitant to read it, as it is the prequel of Frankenstein. If you’ve seen my “About the Blog” page, then you’d probably know that horror isn’t one of my favourite genres. Regardless, I quickly got pulled into the story.

There are a lot of things that I like about This Dark Endeavor. The first thing would be the plot. Right off the bat, it was exciting, eye-widening, and had me thinking, “Wow.” After I felt relieved since it was just a play, Mr. Oppel pulls in another problem like a 1-2 punch. I think that it was a good tactic for absorbing the reader into the book.

The rest of the plot was also great to read. There were a lot of really thrilling parts, but even the slightly toned down points were exciting. The story was paced well; things didn’t seem to be resolved or over with too quickly, and there were no drags that made me read faster just so that part could be done.

The characters were well-developed, too. Of course I can’t rightfully compare them with their adult counterparts, as I’ve never read the actual Frankenstein. I liked how Mr. Oppel “showed” their back-stories, along with everything else, and didn’t just dump it all at once. I liked Elizabeth especially, because she was strong willed, rather fiery, independent, and she managed to hold out against Victor, for the most part. Victor, to me, seemed slightly unlikeable and rude, but I think that’s just how the author was trying to show him.

I also felt that the love triangle between Elizabeth, Victor and Konrad was a bit weird. I think it’s because Konrad was out of the picture a lot, since he was, you know, deathly ill most of the time, and Victor was trying to make Elizabeth love him even though he knew that she loved Konrad. Victor was rather forward when he was with Elizabeth. At times it didn’t really seem like a real love triangle.

Usually I don’t mention this in my reviews, but I feel like I need to in this one. There are two covers for This Dark Endeavor. One of them has a short haired, black-overcoat-wearing Victor seen through a key hole, and the other cover has an older looking Victor with long hair, standing in front of a couple buildings in what I assume to be is Geneva, and he’s not wearing an overcoat. Personally, I prefer the cover with the keyhole. Victor seems like he really is sixteen there.

And two other things: This Dark Endeavor is in talks to be made into a movie by the same people who made Twilight. Also, it’s going to have a sequel, Such Wicked Intent, which is releasing on August 21 this year. I’ve mentioned this before, because it’s on my “Books to Read” post.

Overall, I found This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel to be a highly enjoyable book, filled with action, suspense and romance. It will delight almost anyone, even non-horror fans. I liked it very much, and I hope that you will to, if you decide to read it. 🙂

Thanks to Kenneth Oppel, goodreads.com, Chapters and Google images