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(Matt Cruse #1)

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  21,949 ratings  ·  1,829 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, 501 pages
Published May 24th 2005 by HarperCollins (first published 2004)
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Megan McMillen Sounds like someone is trying to cheat on their homework! LOL!
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Community Reviews

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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.

Aug 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to Catie by: Flannery
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
2/1/18 $1.99 for Kindle.

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
Sep 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
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,
The Captain
Ahoy there me mateys! This was an audiobook that I picked up because I was looking for a fluffy young adult book. I think somewhere I had heard there be dragons. Well, there be no dragons here. But there are cool flying animals, airships, silly fish-loving chefs, sea-adventures, pirates, lost islands, smart feisty girls, daring kind-hearted boys, and adventure!

The other appeal of this particular audiobook was that is was performed by Full Cast Audio. According to their website “Full Cast Audio (
Dec 13, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 08, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A second-generation airshipman, cabin boy Matt Cruse catches a glimpse of a sinking balloon ship, and helps engineer the daring rescue of its sole occupant. While dying, the balloonist tells Matt about magnificent winged creatures. On a later cruise, the dead man's granddaughter Kate arrives to find whatever her grandfather saw. A little bit of piracy and some stormy weather adds some spice to the story. Personally, I thought Leviathan by Scott Westerfield was a better story and more steampunk. ...more
Mar 06, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Mar 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Sep 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: action-adventure
I quite enjoyed this one!
Allison Tebo
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Let's just say, the only reason I'm keeping this book is because of the front cover - I'm going to use it as decor on my bookshelf.
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Eliza Crewe
Feb 29, 2016 rated it liked it
fun, light adventure read. I liked the MC, but the main female character was a spoiled, self-centered, idiotic brat.
Alex Keats
Apr 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
A story so strong it swept me off my feet and left me ... airborne

Apr 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Really liked this adventure story. The fantasy elements are handled well and I think the interpersonal struggles of the main characters are not overly done. It was really fun to read.
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
It starts of a little slow. But if you stick with it, you might be surprised. And even when it is slow, for some reason, it moved. It flowed very well. An enjoyable read.
May 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
TERRIBLE ENDINGGG!!!!!!! Hated the book, I feel asleep reading the book it was boring and I didn't like it...
Daniel Shellenbarger
Airborn follows the adventures of Matt Cruse, a cabin boy aboard the airship Aurora, a luxury liner in an alternate world where Jules Verne's dreams (but not his nightmares) basically came true. Unlike a lot of alternate history stories, Airborn doesn't bother with giving much world development. It's never even clear what year the story takes place in, and the strange mix of technology (there are airships and heavier-than-air ornithopters but weapons seem to be largely antiquated blunderbusses a ...more
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
I'm rating this based on the memory that I loved it when I read it years ago, and I hand sold it a lot when I was a bookseller. An imaginative adventure.
Lee Penney
Jun 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young adult, alternative historical fiction, adventure
Shelves: favorites
Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

Airborn is the wonderfully fresh story of cabin boy Matt Cruse. Born in the air, Matt has always felt most at home flying aboard the luxury air ship Aurora. It was his father's ship before and it was his ship now. One day he hopes to be a Junior Sailmaker.

One night while on watch duty Matt spies a balloon off in the distance and with the help of his crew he rescues the balloonist, who asks him Did you see them? before he dies, saying that Kate would have loved
Alanna  G.
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing

Finally decided to review this book, as I think it is really underrated, and more people should read it!

Reading Airborn was like a breath of fresh air from all the other cliché YA storylines around. Whenever I try to explain the originality, I find myself not doing the book justice. “Bascially,” I tell people, “think of pirates and ships but in the sky.” Sure, it may sound odd, but the storyline works. In fact, I think the setting makes the book that much better. If one goes overboard while on a

April Helms
Dec 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fans of the Leviathan trilogy, fans of aeronautics, fans of fantasy
4.5 stars
This book is amazing!!!

I loved it. The airships, the characters, pirates, mythical beasts come to life, skeptical scientists, daring girls, snooty chaperones, brave captains, vivacious cooks, and a daring, brave, excelling cabin boy.
Matt Cruse is a cabin boy on board the majestic airship Aurora. I love this character. He is everything you want in a hero, brave exceptionally talented, daring and just crazy enough to try things that others would never think of. By he us also authentic fa
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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

Other books in the series

Matt Cruse (3 books)
  • Skybreaker (Matt Cruse, #2)
  • Starclimber (Matt Cruse, #3)
“You two were in a cave together?’ said Miss Simpkins in horror.
‘Yes,’ said Kate, ‘and it was very, very dark.”
“Why do you need to fly so much?” she asked.
“If I don’t, it’ll catch up with me.” The words just came out.
“What will?”
I took my hands from my face, panting. I stared out at the storm.
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