Former cabin boy Matt Cruse, now a student at the prestigious Airship Academy, is first to identify the Hyperion, the private airship of a reclusive and fabulously wealthy inventor that disappeared forty years ago with its owner. Armed with the Hyperion’s coordinates, which only he possesses, Matt, heiress Kate de Vries, and a mysterious young gypsy board the Sagarmatha, an airship fitted with the new skybreaker engines that will allow them to reach the Hyperion, 20,000 feet above the earth’s surface. Pursued by others who want the Hyperion and will stop at nothing to get it, and surrounded by dangerous high-altitude life forms, Matt and his companions are soon fighting not only for the Hyperion but for their very lives.
Airborn is good, but Skybreaker is great. It has a much faster pace at the beginning than Airborn, and most of the book takes place in a frozen airship that’s spooky at first, and then turns dangerous with the presence of electrical squid jellyfish, and yes they’re as terrifying (and awesome) as they sound. Oppel does tension so well and it’s particularly noticeable in this book, which is built around tension. Skybreaker is also deliciously funny, in a very subtle, situational sort of way. And the humor is so nicely mixed with the tension and the overall ambience that it feels very natural.
Matt’s money angst is so adorable, and so utterly appropriate for this time period (alternate as it is). His jealousy could come off as annoying or overdone, but I think it’s well done, because Oppel is very careful not to harp on it. Plus, it’s just such a realistic worry that someone like Matt might have in that situation. Why wouldn’t he think that the rich girl would marry the rich man who can give her everything, as opposed to the poor boy who can’t? Plus, he’s sixteen, so it’s to be expected that he would blow things out of proportion a bit.
I absolutely love the world that Oppel has created here. It was so inventive in the first book, and in this book Oppel expands even more on it. I love great worldbuilding.
Recommended Age Range: 14+
Warnings: Violence, slightly graphic descriptions of death
Genre: Steampunk, Young Adult
“He wasn’t just an inventor. He was also an avid collector. He had one of the most extensive collections of taxidermy in the world.” She paused, and lowered her voice. “He had specimens he never showed to the public.”
My skin crawled. “Like what?”
“No one knows. Some people say he had animals that had been extinct for centuries, or creatures everyone thought were imaginary. And it’s all up there in the Hyperion. The entire ship is like a floating zoological museum—a museum that’s never been seen before.”
Skybreaker expands on the world of Airborn and delivers an even faster-paced adventure with a seemingly haunted ghost ship that turns dangerous, romance angst, and some wonderful moments of humor in between all the tension. A fantastic adventure with a fantastic male protagonist.
You can buy this here: Skybreaker