Starclimber is written by Kenneth Oppel. It was published in 2009 by Eos. It is the sequel to Skybreaker.
Pilot-in-training Matt Cruse and Kate de Vries, expert on high-altitude life-forms, are invited aboard the Starclimber, a vessel that literally climbs its way into the cosmos. Before they even set foot aboard the ship, catastrophe strikes: Kate announces she is engaged—and not to Matt. Despite this bombshell, Matt and Kate embark on their journey into space, but soon the ship is surrounded by strange and unsettling life-forms, and the crew is forced to combat devastating mechanical failure. For Matt, Kate, and the entire crew of the Starclimber, what began as an exciting race to the stars has now turned into a battle to save their lives.
Oppel’s version of space is gorgeous (music of the spheres! Space whales! Space coral!), and his method of getting Matt & Co. up there is so inventive. I absolutely love the concept of a “space elevator.” While the space trip is beautiful, it’s not without its dangers, and the novel has its tense moments. But Oppel paces it well, with humor in all the right spots to relieve the tension.
Although Kate and Matt’s romance gets incredibly cheesy at points, I love it. Matt continues to be jealous, but that jealousy is cover for an insecure streak a mile long, and Matt and Kate have possibly the most conflict they ever have had in this book. I love how their relationship is resolved (and the fact that when Kate openly announces it, everyone’s all “We know”), although slightly sad that we don’t get to see more at the end.
The moments of humor in this book were so great, and often very well-delivered. Chef Vlad continues to be awesome. I absolutely loved it when Kate kept calling James “George” and Matt kept correcting her.
These books are so inventive, so fun, and so satisfying to read that I am so sad that there’s only three. More, Oppel, more! Please?
Recommended Age Range: 14+
Warnings: Slightly graphic descriptions of death
Genre: Steampunk, Young Adult
“Madam,” Chef Vlad said, still holding the lid tight, “if your monkey so much as peeks his adorable little head into my kitchen again, I will cook him. Do you understand this? Little Achoo, or whatever silly thing you’ve named him, will be all crispy. I will serve him with maybe an orange sauce and leeks!”
Chef Vlad then paused as if considering this properly for the first time. “I’ve never attempted such a thing, and it would be challenging, and yet—”
“Release him!” Miss Karr said sternly.
“Chef Vlad, why aren’t you in Paris?” I asked.
Chef Vlad’s cheeks filled with air and he gave an exaggerated sigh. “Paris is charming, for a time, Mr. Curse. It is like one of their delightful little pastries. It sits there, looking plump and smug and delicious, but let it sit too long and it curdles, becomes soggy and repellant. There is no energy in Paris, no dynamism. An artist like myself must move on. Also, I set fire to the French president.”