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Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel


by Kenneth Oppel

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  NickJJ | Nov 15, 2013 |
Matt Cruse is still a pilot-in-training at the Academy, and he's moonlighting as an aerotug pilot in Paris, working on the Celestial Tower that will one day allow people to travel into outer space. Kate is also in Paris, attempting to earn scientific credibility despite her research on life forms that some scientists still refuse to believe exist. Their relationship has grown more serious and yet their class issues are becoming an even bigger roadblock -- though Kate meets Matt's working-class family, she still hasn't told her wealthy parents about Matt. When Matt foils a terrorist attack on the Celestial Tower (as he is wont to do), he's invited to return to Canada to train for a new, top-secret mission: the first flight into outer space. Kate is also invited on this mission, as part of the scientific team who will observe life in outer space. Matt undergoes rigorous training to become an astralnaut, but he almost doesn't make it aboard; at the same time, Kate's parents tell her she is only allowed to go if she agrees to marry a man of their choice. Matt, being supremely lucky as always, manages to secure himself a place on the ship, and Kate, being as hard-headed as she is, agrees to marry this man but doesn't intend to follow-through. (Does she tell Matt this? What do you think?) During the journey, there's tension between Matt and Kate; between Kate and the other scientist on board, who happens to be her most vocal dissenter; and between Matt and an older, dismissive astralnaut, but none of that matters when the astral cable supporting their ship breaks, putting them all at risk.

Just like the others in the series, this is a straight-out, fast-paced, swashbuckling adventure; the series has always reminded me of Indiana Jones or other adventure classics like Treasure Island. Okay, I will admit that I was skeptical about space travel in the context of Oppel's alternate Victorian-era world, but he managed to pull it off convincingly and imaginatively. And of course, Oppel works in as much realism as he possible, if not in how Matt and Kate travel to space, then in the effects space travel has on them. Once they become astralnauts (and I love how he manages to re-work a familiar word here to encompass his idea of space travel), of course, the story follows a familiar pattern: they discover strange, amazing creatures; Kate is brainy and impetuous and Matt is determined and kind of touchy; they argue; they risk their lives; Matt saves the day; and they make up. I'm not summarizing it this way to sound dismissive -- I like how consistent the series is and how Oppel makes each book feel like a direct outgrowth of the book before. Matt and Kate make progress in their careers and their romance in each book that feels totally natural, and it's a joy to see them make up at the end and imagine their possible future together. I highly enjoyed the physical and mental tests Matt is put through as a part of his astralnaut training (I always enjoy seeing a character's skills tested in a new way, especially Matt, who is always so capable). As always, Oppel's secondary characters are as strong as Matt and Kate, from the kooky photographer Miss Karr to the kindly Captain (and the hilarious chef from the first two books is back as well!), and the romance drama and internal conflicts never slow down the action.

This is the third book in the series and, I hope, not its final volume (though it does end in a very good place). There's apparently an Airborn movie being made (hope they don't screw it up), and wouldn't it be good marketing to have a fourth book on the way? ( )
  Crowinator | Sep 23, 2013 |
I was going to do 4 stars but then I thought, no. This book is too good for four. It being the third in the series my expectations were already set high and Oppel delivered. Beautiful characters, amazing action, witty and above all set in an imaginative and original world. Lovely, just lovely. ( )
  akmargie | Apr 4, 2013 |
Matt Cruse is back with a adventure that reaches beyond the skies. Matt and Kate de Vries are asked to embark on a journey never attempted before. They were asked to go to the stars and into space. After a truly horrific training camp, the liftoff to the stars can begin. Many perils await Matt and Kate.
  willi.nicholson | Jun 1, 2012 |
Matt Cruse's greatest adventure yet takes him to space. This story takes you beyond your imagination about how people from the past would travel into outer space. Matt went into training to gain this great opportunity, when he thought he lost his chance, someone else couldn't go so he was chosen. While working to keep the ship safe and secure for their discovery adventure. He will have to handle his mixed feelings for Kate and her somehow fiancee along with the continuous problems having to fight to survive without help from earth. Will he be able to handle the position he worked so hard for. will Kate understand his feelings, and will they all make it back to earth safe and sound? Read the third book from the Airborn series to find out.
  ParkerD28 | Dec 5, 2011 |
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Rising into the wind, I flew, Paris spread before me.
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As members of the first crew of astralnauts, Matt Cruse and Kate De Vries journey into outer space on the Starclimber and face a series of catastrophes that threaten the survival of all on board.

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