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4.7 80
by Kenneth Oppel

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"Mr. Cruse, how high would you like to fly?"

A smile soared across my face.

"As high as I possibly can."

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,


"Mr. Cruse, how high would you like to fly?"

A smile soared across my face.

"As high as I possibly can."

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.

Award-winning and bestselling author Kenneth Oppel brings us back to a rich world of flight and fantasy in this breathtaking new sequel to Airborn and Skybreaker.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Kathleen Karr
Matt Cruse and Kate De Vries are back again! The dynamic duo spar their way through their third—and last?—adventure in Kenneth Oppel's prize-winning, best-selling, Canadian-inspired alternate history of the early days of flight. The sci-fi aspects of the story are a little thin, to the point that one is tempted to take sides with that old misogynist, Sir Hugh Snuffler, on the subject of things like "cloud cats." And while there are pro forma villains (e.g., the "Babelites," a version of the Industrial Revolution's Ludites), they never really come to life, so the bulk of this particular story is a replay of the classic boarding school/basic training scenario as Matt bonds with his fellow "astralnauts" before the big voyage to outer space. As to how that Jules Verne-ish trip is rather ingeniously accomplished and what actually occurs during its duration . . . well, explaining all that would spoil the plot. Suffice it to say that Oppel has some fun with his parody of a famously eccentric Canadian painter, the action is fairly non-stop, and Matt manages to remain the hero of the hour. Reviewer: Kathleen Karr
School Library Journal

Gr 6-10

This sequel to Airborn (2004) and Skybreaker (2005, both Eos) continues the fabulous adventures of Matt Cruse and Kate de Vries. In classic steampunk fashion, this book blends the best of Victorian society and science fiction. No longer content to be confined to planet Earth, Kate and Matt leap at the opportunity to travel into space when Kate is invited to be a part of the Canadian astralnaut program for her scientific expertise and Matt must undergo rigorous training before he is accepted as a crew member. Unexpected mechanical difficulties, friction among those onboard, sabotage, and encounters with strange alien life-forms test their courage and ingenuity and love for one another. Starclimber is a thrilling roller-coaster ride of a book, full of humor and derring-do and guaranteed to keep readers up long past midnight.-Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK

Kirkus Reviews
Matt Cruse, hero of Printz Honor-winning Airborn (2004) and its sequel, Skybreaker (2006), returns for another thrilling adventure. While working to fund his final year in pilot training, Matt receives the opportunity to participate in a secret venture that will take him beyond his beloved skies and into outer space, enduring vigorous training to become one of the mission's "astralnauts." Security is paramount, since there are those willing to use violence to sabotage space travel. Once again, Matt is joined by his friend/romantic interest, Kate de Vries, as she continues to research unusual life forms. Their mission is complicated by factors both technical and human: Their ship is designed to travel by way of an untried "astral cable," and Kate can get permission from her parents to go only by getting engaged to another young man shortly before their journey begins-the strain on Matt from both sources is palpable. Once again, Oppel has assembled intriguing characters, especially Matt's fellow astralnauts, who populate a fast-paced narrative that features enough unpredictable plot twists to keep readers riveted to Matt's story to the finish. (Fantasy. YA)
Children's Literature - Kristina Cassidy
This third entry in the Matt Cruse series raises the stakes by taking its hero out of the sky and up into space. In these alternate histories of the early 1900s, air travel has supplanted trains and ships. Young Matt is a sky sailor who, in the first two books, fights a pirate and helps recover a long-missing airship. In Starclimber, Matt trains to serve aboard the world's first spaceship. Following the standard format for this series, poor Matt and his wealthy love Kate DeVries discover new lifeforms and face incredible danger together. First terrorists try to sabotage the mission. Then the ship suffers mechanical failures and attracts unwanted attention from bizarre alien lifeforms. The adventure elements work very well, as usual. The romance between Kate and Matt, however, seems forced. Another suitor vies for Kate's attention, and neither Kate nor Matt seems to have considered how they would fit into each other's career and life plans. A subplot involving women's suffrage serves mostly to contribute to a stronger impression of Kate's lack of understanding of how the world works for those who do not have tremendous fortunes. Kate herself comes across as young, naive, and selfish. This impression is reinforced by the new actress voicing her. Meanwhile, the same voice actor has portrayed Matt in all three books, showing his growing maturity. The infatuation between the two seems stilted in the audio performance as a result. Reviewer: Kristina Cassidy

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

KENNETH OPPEL is the Governor General’s Award–winning author of the Airborn series and the Silverwing Saga, which has sold over a million copies worldwide. His most recent novels are Half Brother, winner of both the Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award and the Young Adult Book Award; This Dark Endeavour, finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award; and Such Wicked Intent, finalist for the CLA Young Adult Book Award. Canada’s nominated author for the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award, he lives in Toronto with his wife and three children.


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Starclimber 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 80 reviews.
Heavenscribe More than 1 year ago
Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel Kenneth Oppel's third book in the Airborne trilogy creates a parallel world even more vivid than his previous installments. In a dashing adventure style, Oppel transports readers to a turn of the century Earth, complete with airships, new European monuments and suffragettes. Starclimber continues the story of airship trainee Matt Cruse and his plucky companion Kate de Vries. In Starclimber, Matt is doing what he loves best-piloting- until he receives an offer to be part of a historical venture beyond the clouds. While managing his secret romance with Kate, Matt travels back home to Canada to begin training of a different sort. Kate, whose zoological studies are becoming world-famous, makes life difficult for Matt when she is chosen to study life on their expedition. Together, the two face new dangers, including an engagement that could tear them apart. This story is one part adventure, one part science fiction and two parts romance. Gentlemen, don't let this scare you away. Oppel balances the voices of his male and female heroines seamlessly. Though their interactions can be a bit on the cheesy side sometimes, readers are drawn to Matt's candid personality that seems to have an "everyman" quality. Oppel also introduces elements of Steampunk in his airship-laden world, creating a Jules Verne sense of adventure that is at once futuristic and alternative history. The character and plot are delightfully full-throttle and don't leave the reader bored with monotonous detail. Overall, Oppel has created a shining trilogy that receives less attention than it should from sci-fi and fantasy readers. Start with Airborne and you won't be let down from your airship ride until you finish with Starclimber.
clemmy More than 1 year ago
This series is absolutely wonderful. Matt is the best male narrator I have ever read, and he is actually interesting, which is nice. Honestly, there has to be another book because, come on, it's Kate, it can't be this easy. WE all know that Matt is wonderful, but sometimes she doesn't seem to appreciate what she has (yes, a girl is writing this). There is the perfect balance of action and relationship issues to be a wonderful read for both boys and girls.
Lindsey_Miller More than 1 year ago
Oppel does such a great job of creating a continuous strain of adventure novels that hearken back to the days of sky and sea exploration and bring out the romance that those elements still evoke in a culture that has long passed that era. His world is close enough to our own in history, culture, and natural law that this entire series feels kindred to the works of Robert Louis Stevenson or Jules Vern. As the books have progressed, space was the next logical step in Cruse's adventures, and each story gets more complicated and conveys more depth than the last as Cruse and his confidants get older. This story has some similar elements that our own modern cultures deal with, like military power over private endeavors, agenda-bent terrorists who will stop at nothing to reach their goal, and blossoming, forbidden love between two people from different social classes. -Lindsey Miller, lindseyslibrary
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
STARCLIMBER is the sequel to Oppel's AIRBORN and SKYBREAKER. This was a fantastic science fiction book for young adults, and will follow in their path of award-winning writing.

Matt is an accomplished young man who has many incredible opportunities to prove himself as he climbs out of his childhood. Kate is a feisty young woman with her sights set on a future filled with women's liberation and scientific research.

Together, they meet their newest challenge of being the first to ride the Starclimber into space. They are headed to a world of life-threatening new discoveries about space, and new discoveries about themselves as they soar into adulthood.

With new creatures and an "elevator" into space, our main characters seek to meet their new expectations and out-of-this-world challenges.

The book was packed with nail-biting adventures that are bound to keep readers' interest. It was a fabulous story, and I would suggest it to any young man or woman who likes to read about worlds, not too unlike their own, and young people who are accomplishing what seems like the impossible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great, Awesome book, just wanted to let you know... the civer is misleading, there isnt an actual beach. I kept reading this book for 10 straight hours waiting for them to be on a beach, but other than that totally 5 Stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was yet another great book in this amazing series! There's always something unexpected around the corner. This series should be continued!
MaddogMR More than 1 year ago
This book is a great read for ages between 12 and 19, give or take a few years. This book is also good for people who like different genres because there is romance, adventure, realistic fiction, and even some science fiction all rapped into one book (the first and second book also have all the different genres as well). Heres a brief summery to give you an idea if you'll want to read the book, but don't worry I won't give anything away. Kate de Vries and Matt Cruse get invited to take place in trying out to go to outer space on a new kind of airship of some sort name the Star Climber. Kate is already exepted onto the crew because of her scientific finds, but Matt gets thrown into a huge crowd all just like him... waiting to become part of the Star Climber crew after they've proven their worth. The astronauts who are picked to be part of the crew go through some unexpected and dangerous life or death situations during the expedition. Read the book to find out what happens in the end, do they ever make it back or do they die trying to reach for Earth's hold.
Felicia_220 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved the series from the start, as it was quite similar to the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld in the airship aspect. Matt and Kate were wonderful in this follow-up, as their relationship grew more complex. If you haven't read Airborn and Skybreaker yet, I highly recommend you start reading them!
Reading360 More than 1 year ago
This book is my favorite out of the trio including Matt and Kate.The back of the book fooled me and despite reading the first two novels the first time I read the back I did NOT think I would like it. After becoming desperate for something to read I came back to the book and bought it.And I am so glad I did.This is now one of m favorite books and I will recomnend it too anyone!
bribumblebee More than 1 year ago
I had to read the first books in the series, Airborn, for school. I loved it so much, that I went to the library and checked out the second book, Skybreaker. My library didn't hold Starclimber and I wanted it so badly!! I thought I would go crazy if I didn't read that book soon. I finally bought it at Borders one day and finished reading it the next. The book was seriously AMAZING! There was romanace, heart-break, action, anticipation, and thrill. It was overall one of the best books I have ever read. I would recomend it in a heartbeat!
Luv2readVT More than 1 year ago
This is the first series of books that kept my son reading throughout the summer. He is very particular about what books he reads and it is difficult to find books that he does like. I was thrilled that this series interested him enough that he let me know when he finished one and needed the next book to read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
How would you like to go to space—in an elevator? Pilot Matt Cruse and zoologist join a crew of six in a ride in the first spaceship ever—an odd vehicle climbing up a huge pole. The story, set in a world where planes were never invented, is simply amazing. The author, Kenneth Oppel, has a terrific sense of pacing and really knows how to draw a reader in. As the ship suffers tragedy after tragedy, the tension builds. The crew will have to use every bit of their skill to fight for their lives. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves an action-packed sci-fi to kill some time. Timothy M.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yo. You need a gf? Ok..... why if i may ask.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book and series.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best book ever im so sad that i finished the series please make a sequel kenneth
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Impossible to describe something this good in words!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best series i've ever read. Though sometimes the dialogue is dull and the chracter remains staticly naive, the plot, settings, and overall feelling the book gives you as you read and after you finish the book overshadows its minor flaws. Hyfr. -Trey Artist
Anonymous More than 1 year ago