Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel. (Grades 5+)
If you haven't read Airborn and Skybreaker, I'm quite sure I don't know what you're waiting for. Talk about excellent fantasy adventure... I can't recommend these books enough. I was so very excited to find out that Kenneth Oppel had written a third book and I absolutely wasn't disappointed.
In Starclimber, Matt Cruse is offered the chance to qualify for the first ever team of astralnauts. The Space Race is on between Canada and France and Matt is determined to be on the first ship into space. To sweeten the deal, his beloved Kate will be going on the expedition to search for extraterrestrial life. But Matt's not sure he'll make it through the extremely tough qualifying trials and Kate's sufferagette antics cause her father to think twice about allowing her on the expedition. Will they both make it into the ether? And what is waiting up there for them?
Okay, so I loved this book. I love the characters of Matt Cruse and Kate de Vries so much that there was no way I wasn't going to love this book. It's full of action. There are tons of details about the alternate history that Oppel has created for us. It's an incredibly intriguing world in which airships rule the sky and people are finding ways into space around the turn of the century.
That said, I had to suspend my disbelief a lot. I mean, it's a fantasy world and an alternate history, so some suspension of disbelief is definitely expected. But while in Airborn and Skybreaker I could buy that the fantastic stuff could work with the inventions and discoveries Oppel worked into the world, in Starclimber I repeatedly thought to myself that there's no way this space travel would ever have worked. Now, I've read a little about space travel but I'm by no means an expert. Plus, I trust that Mr. Oppel has done his research. But a lot of the space stuff just really seemed like a stretch to me.
Even with my disbelief suspended all out of whack, I loved this book. That'll tell you just how much I loved the characters and the writing. I couldn't put it down. And I don't read series*, but I would definitely read more stories about Matt and Kate if Mr. Oppel chooses to write them. :)
I have to give mad props to my fellow blogger Sarah over at GreenBeanTeenQueen for sending me her ARC (my library still hasn't received its copies, so you saved me from a lot of agony).
You'll want to check out Kenneth Oppel's website, which has a lot of neat stuff, and check out another review at Reading Rants!
*Okay, I say that I don't read series, but I can think of lots of series that I do read. Like Percy Jackson and Chronicles of Ancient Darkness and Luxe. So maybe I should stop saying that I don't read series. I still really appreciate standalone books, though.