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Airborn (Matt Cruse #1)

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  13,456 ratings  ·  1,214 reviews
Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on the Aurora, a huge airship that sails hundreds of feet above the ocean, ferrying wealthy passengers from city to city. It is the life Matt's always wanted; convinced he's lighter than air, he imagines himself as buoyant as the hydrium gas that powers his ship. One night he meets a dying balloonist who speaks of beautiful creatures drifting thro...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published May 24th 2005 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 2004)
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Community Reviews

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3 1/2 stars

Read this book if:

You love young, honest lads from humble beginnings who are nonetheless destined for great things.

You love high-seas adventures featuring acts of derring-do, bands of murderous pirates with creative names, shipwrecks on tropical islands, overachieving cabin boys, and smarty-pants rich girls.

You grew up with Treasure Island, Mutiny on the Bounty, Horatio Hornblower, Aubrey and Maturin, or even Jacky Faber.

You like the younger side of YA.

You find the idea of a moody Eas...more
Damn straight.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is YA. This is YA in all its shiny glory. If you're tired of beautiful supernatural new kids falling in love with the mortal they can't be with...
Well. This is YA.
Damn straight.

Okay, so I’m going to admit up front that this is not what you would necessarily call a Grown-Up Book. There’s… there’s a definite age for this book, and that age is Twelve. But apparently that’s my preferred reading level, because I freaking loved Airborn.

It’s like Muppet Treasure Island meets Horatio Hornblower meets Mark Llama: Gerbil Farmer meets Anne of Green Gables (which I definitely just wrote as Anne of Green Bagels) and I loved loved loved it.

Our hero Matt, cabin boy with big dreams, i...more
I'm so glad I decided to listen to the Full Cast Audio production of this young adult novel. In fact, I didn't realize until after I had listened to it that it won a 2007 Audie Award. I believe it. I was riveted during this novel, even though I have read the book (and its sequel) before. Riveted while driving through whirling snow on a Chicago interstate is a little dangerous, but I survived.[return][return]Matt Cruse was born on an airship and has worked on one since the age of 12. He's only a...more
2.5 stars.

I enjoyed it. I did. But I kept comparing it to Leviathan. There are enough similarities that I couldn't help it and I did try to be objective.

Let's start with characters, shall we?

Matt is nice but a bit bland. I'm sorry, but to speak plainly; he's in love with the airship, with the idea of flying, aaaand...that's pretty much it.

Kate: Oh, Kate. The sassier, I-just-don't-care character. I liked her, though she was a carbon copy of many girl characters I've run across recently. And I wa...more
Oct 17, 2008 TheSaint rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
If you like a lot of action in your reading, you'll love Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel. This 2005 Printz honor title reads just like watching a movie. Mr. Cruse is awfully young to work aboard a luxury airship. Even if he is only a cabin boy, he aspires to greater responsibility. Luckily, many opportunities arise for him to prove his mettle to the captain. But after the Aurora is attacked by pirates and left foundering after a typhoon, Matt's cunning and ability face test after test, leaving him phy...more
Nov 02, 2007 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of pirate stories or old-school Indiana Jones or Treasure Island adventures
Shelves: juvenile
This book is reminiscent of the best pirate adventures of the past, but ups the ante by setting half of the tale in the air, rather than the seas, and by taking time with characterizations, rather than creating stock Baddies.
There is admittedly an odd subplot with mysterious creatures which is...interesting enough, but really I found myself caught up the most with the "high seas" (or perhaps in this case, high over the seas) drama. Even the technical parts about the various parts of the airship,...more
Mar 06, 2009 Cindy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: teen
A book about airships! I really was looking forward to liking this book as it's not the typical magic fantasy and really isn't even fantasy per say. It was a very slow moving book at first but at times I really got into it. It's a great adventure book with a bit of a mystery.

I really don't care for first person books, because it gets really old after a while. I found that Matt (the main character and narrator) was annoying, obnoxious and thought he was better then everyone else. He came across a...more
Auntie J
I really liked this one.

Airborn is about a cabin boy on an passenger air ship. It takes place in an alternate history of our world - so it may be classified as fantasy, but it is not really a fantasy story - it's an adventure story. Has an 1800's or maybe Edwardian feel. It might appear to be more of a "boy book", but there is a main character who is a girl, so there's someone girls can relate to, and a bit of wholesome romance. I wouldn't assume girls wouldn't like this one.

There's also a bit...more
Airships! Sky pirates! Strange creatures! Quite a bit going on here. Add in class issues and an adventurous young lady with scientific aspirations and it more than fills 500 pages.

There's basically two storylines going on here. There's swashbuckling action against a group of sky pirates, and a quest to prove the existence of a strange creature, something like a gigantic bat. Our POV character is Matt Cruse, a poor young man born to fly on airships, but held back because he's essentially enlisted...more
Jul 26, 2009 Ann rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: many, many a person!
Recommended to Ann by: Katie and Tyler - THANKS!
Most definitely one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Perhaps *best* isn’t quite the right word… I’ve read several wonderful books this year. But, for me, this is definitely one of my all-time favorites.

Seldom do I come across a title that has a strong plot, a great writing style, and wonderful characters that are multi-dimensional, real, and vivid. It felt like every time I tuned in I was visiting with friends.

This was a fast read, catching me from the start. The plot is quite unique...more
I quite enjoyed this one! It had all the right ingredients for a really interesting adventure story: action, villains, "ships" of one kind or another, believable characters, strange animals and exotic locations....
I really liked the world the author created and all the little details made it seem quite real. It did take me a chapter or two to get "into" it, but it was never boring. I also liked how everything tied into everything else....there were no loose ends or unnecessary subplots. Quite an...more
Sarah BT
Airborn is such a great read! (Or in my case listen, since I listened to the audiobook). But no matter how many times I booktalk it, tell my teens about it, and try to really sell it to readers, it still remains a hard book to convince them to take. I'm not sure if that's because the old cover which we have in the library and maybe the paperback cover is helping to remedy that.
I often describe this book as Treasure Island meets Around the World in 80 Days which sometimes will get a reader's att...more
April Helms
Jan 04, 2008 April Helms rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all ages
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
Matt Cruse, a cabin boy on board a luxury airship, befriends Kate, a girl from a wealthy family. After the ship crash-lands on a deserted tropical island, he reluctantly teams up with her in a quest to solve the mystery of her late grandfather’s sighting of a mysterious winged creature near where they are stranded.

What’s not to like? It has action, it has good characters, it has a good grasp of history, it has mystery … and did I mention the action. I don’t think librarians will be able to keep...more
Lee Penney
I found out about Airborn while surfing around looking for contemporaries of Harry Potter to see if any books had sold anywhere near the same number. Kenneth Oppel was unknown to me, although he has been writing for some time, partly because his previous books seem to have been aimed at a younger audience. The article I found was about who was going to replace the JK Rowling-shaped void in children’s publishing now HP was over. Oppel was the focus of the piece (it was for a Canadian site, he is...more
One word review: Fabulous!

It's taken me awhile to write the full review for this, because I never feel I can do the story justice--but then, perhaps, that is enough of a review in itself! Suffice it to say this story has so much adventure and excitement, suspense and action, yet also heaps of thoughtfulness and sensitivity and absolutely marvelous characterization. I hesitate to bring out any sort of "Harry Potter comparison" but really this is the closest to an HP "feel" of any novel I've read...more
Airborn is a young adult adventure novel set in a steam-punk style alternate universe in which dirigibles are the main air transportation.

Airborn justly serves as a great example of what the YA adventure market gets right.

Airborn is full of YA staples: a first person narrator trying hard to grow up, often surrounded by unsympathetic adults or peers, who goes on a series of action-laden adventures of near superhero proportions. There's a lot of alternate universe in YA, too, which gives the read...more
Although this book isn't usually the subject I would choose, the story and characters hooked me right away.

Matt Cruse is completely at home in the sky, a cabin boy aboard the immense airship Aurora. He dreams of one day piloting his own air vessel. But his adventurous sky life is about to take an even crazier turn. The Aurora becomes host to the headstrong, fiery heiress Kate de Vries, a girl on a mission for a strange creature that her grandfather swore existed. A creature that lives above the...more
Mar 09, 2009 Kricket rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kricket by: Kim
truly exciting and beautifully written adventure of matt cruse, cabin boy to the airship aurora, and kate de vries, a wealthy passenger on a mission of exploration. her late grandfather left documentation of a new species of strange winged creatures spotted during his fateful balloon trip, and kate intends to find the creatures. matt becomes her rather unwilling partner in the mission, as pirates hijack the airship and force a landing on an uncharted island.

i love the details in this story- tha...more
Morgan F
This is a thrilling tale filled with a dashing hero, devious pirates, spectacular airships, and fantastic creatures. There is never a dull moment and the characters and dialogue are witty and realistic. So what if its sweetly predictable? Its entertaining, and the scenery is AMAZING! The kind of book that absolutely begs to be made into a summer blockbuster.

I thought this was a very good book. I think it is best summer reading book I have ever read, but that isn't saying much. I thought the plot was very creative. This is part of a trilogy, but the other two books, Skybreaker and Starclimber, aren't as good as this one. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure books.
Cade Cox
This book is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I read this book every day. If you like action and suspense and a little bit of romance, then this is the book for you.
********************SPOILER ALERT**************SPOILER ALERT*************
my favorite part of the book is close to the end where Matt, Kate, and Leanardo escape from the pirates and sneak on to the pirate-captured Aroura. They skulk around the ship, unhooking mooring lines and such off the beach. Matt even got into the kitchen and putt sleep...more
This was an extremely well-written book. Instead of a fantasy, this is an alternate reality, exploring our world in which airships and not airplanes were invented. The description and detail is staggering, though this also made the story a bit slow.

I enjoyed the characters and the story was quite convincing. I probably would have had it at 4 stars, except I was highly disappointed by the death of a side character. I mean, it was real. But I really didn't care to read this book for a dose of real...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
First impressions: Be still my beating, swooning heart! Kenneth Oppel wastes no time jumping into the action of this story, and it completely sucked me in. I so love when books do that.

Lasting impressions: Absolutely pitch perfect. Full of excitement, adventure, and mystery, this one grabs you and never lets go.

Conflicting impressions: None. Seriously.

Overall impressions: If I learned one thing from this book it's that airships are so my thing.

Fans of Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan series will lo...more
I liked Matt as the protagonist. He was an intelligent and passionate young man who loved what he did. There is a lot of adventure in this book, especially at the end where it got especially exciting. Loved the creature that Kate's grandfather discovered and the mysterious island the Aurora lands on. Very cool world building.

However, I found Kate extremely annoying. In the beginning I thought she was mildly irritating but by the middle she was pushing obnoxious. I appreciate persistence, but sh...more
Darrell Reimer
Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn introduces a re-imagined Edwardian past in which luxury airships, held aloft by a non-flammable natural gas called Hydrium, circumnavigate the globe. Matt Cruse is a fifteen-year-old cabin boy of one such airship. When the lovely and headstrong Kate de Vries comes aboard, Matt finds himself wrestling with some unanticipated impulsiveness of his own. As he struggles to balance his newfound adventurousness with his duties to his ship and family, Matt uncovers a deeper emoti...more
The Airship Librarian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A fantastic read! I really enjoyed Airborn! I’d always like books that have like airships so this book did not disappoint me at all. I really like how descriptive the airship, Aurora, was described. With all the actions that Matt and the rest of the crew did to operate the ship, Oppel did a great job researching these stuff. However, one disadvantage of this is that sometimes the details would get confusing for me with all the technical terms for the different parts of the ship.

As for the charac...more
This is a truly top-notch steampunkish adventure story! Another reviewer nailed it on the head with the description that Airborn is like a "steampunk Treasure Island." It combines all the very best elements of teenage adventure fiction - a gusty, likeable young protagonist in Matt, swashbuckling adventures on the high seas in the air, pirates, etc. They even get shipwrecked at one stage! Not to mention a daring mid-air rescue at the beginning of the book. It's just darn good stuff, and Kenneth O...more
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I was born in 1967 in Port Alberni, a mill town on Vancouver Island, British Columbia but spent the bulk of my childhood in Victoria, B.C. and on the opposite coast, in Halifax, Nova Scotia...At around twelve I decided I wanted to be a writer (this came after deciding I wanted to be a scientist, and then an architect). I started out writing sci-fi epics (my Star Wars phase) then went on to swords...more
More about Kenneth Oppel...
Silverwing (Silverwing, #1) Skybreaker (Matt Cruse, #2) This Dark Endeavor (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, #1) Sunwing (Silverwing, #2) Starclimber (Matt Cruse, #3)

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“You two were in a cave together?’ said Miss Simpkins in horror.
‘Yes,’ said Kate, ‘and it was very, very dark.”
“Bloody Hell!” 15 likes
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