kingshearte's Reviews > Airman

Airman by Eoin Colfer
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Apr 28, 2010

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bookshelves: 2010, books-for-boys, fiction, french-books, teen
Read from April 23 to 28, 2010

Another French book that Don picked up last year. I think my review of this book will be fairly mixed. Parts of it I really liked, other parts were not so awesome.

I feel that there were some things Colfer didn't really explain properly or fully. For starters, right in the prologue, the airship on which Conor is born is actually in the process of being shot down while he's being born. We do eventually find out who was shooting it, and we can figure out why. But at the time, none of the people in the ship seem to really even question why someone's shooting at them, and no mention is ever made of investigating the shootings, or trying to find out who did it. I found that a little strange.

I also found it a little unbelievable that the conditions in the prison mine were as bad as they were without good king Nicholas's knowledge. True, some of the especially bad things were only re-instituted after his death, but it hardly seems like it was a very pleasant place even before that. To call the accommodations and food sub-standard would be giving them too much credit, the working conditions even above sea level hardly seemed particularly safe, and the prisoners are all hot-iron branded, for heaven's sake. It is explained later in the book that steps were taken to hide the actual state of affairs from the king when he visited, but it just seems that someone who appeared to care about his people as much as this guy would have been more thorough in his inspections of the facility. Colfer really tried, I think, to make the conditions in the prison not reflect badly on Nicholas, but it didn't really work for me.

I also found that the love between Conor and Isabella felt forced. I realize that it had to established fairly promptly before the disaster happened, and it's not like you couldn't have predicted from the moment her name appeared in the blurb that the two of them would end up together, but it just felt like it came out of nowhere, and thus it felt kind of forced and artificial. It was a little reminiscent of Anakin and Amidala, and we all know how well that came across.

All that said, this book had some really good parts. The action and suspense parts were very well written. Despite being quite confident that our hero wasn't going to get himself killed halfway through the book, his escape scene from the prison still had me feeling pretty tense, as did any number of other scenes throughout the book. I also thought he did a pretty good job of developing the characters. Even the ones we're not really exposed that much to, like Conor's mother, we still get a decent sense of. Which suggests to me that he himself has a good sense of his characters, and is consistent in how he writes their behaviour and dialogue.

Where the story itself fell down a bit for me was in the calmer parts. I found that after the opening excitement, it really took a long time to get going again, and even once it started, it still dragged a lot in parts. Obviously, it can't be go-go-go all the time, but I just found that the parts in between the really exciting parts really dragged. Part of it was repetition, with certain things (the fact that the coronation was moved up screwed up Conor's escape plans, or the fact that the slightest problem could cause his flying machine to fail and consequently, him to die) repeated several times within the span of a few pages. Thank you, Mr. Colfer. We get it. No seriously. Even aside from that, though, much of the book just lacked a certain tension or impetus or something, to make it feel like the story was actually moving forward. To be fair, it is possible that some of that comes from reading it in translation, though, so ultimately, I think I'll declare the book pretty good. And it'll go on my list of books for boys.
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