Book Reviews · Quick Reads · Six Book Challenge

Book Review: Airman

Eleanor has read this QUICK READ as part of the Six Book Challenge.

For the Six Book Challenge, I challenged myself to read books entirely from the QUICK READS and EXPRESS FICTION sections of the Information Store. My fourth Six Book Challenge book is Airman by Eoin Colfer (QUICK READS 823.91).

I love the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin (pronounced ‘Owen’) Colfer, so I decided to try his swashbuckling adventure story, Airman. Airman is set in an alternative version of Victorian Britain in which the Saltee Islands off the coast of Ireland are their own nation that is famous for scientific innovation. The king of Saltee and most of the population live on Great Saltee, while Little Saltee is a prison where prisoners are made to mine diamonds. The main character, Connor, is the son of the king’s closest friend and grows up with Princess Isabella, the heir to the throne. He is a gifted inventor who is determined to invent a flying machine (remember this was long before aeroplanes), but when his tutor, Victor, and the king are murdered by Marshall Bonvilain, the treacherous head of the military, Connor is blamed and imprisoned on Little Saltee. However, with the encouragement of his blind cellmate Linus Wynter, he never forgets his dream of flying, and through his escape plan becomes a gliding vigilante called ‘the Airman’.

first flight
Orville and Wilbur Wright created the first successful aircraft powered by a petrol engine in 1903

Airman is full of exciting adventure, daring escapes and dastardly villains. Marshall Bonvilain is cruel and determined to turn Queen Isabella into a puppet for his ambition, but she has very different ideas. He makes Connor believe that his own family have turned against him and condemns him to mine diamonds for years in a horrific prison. It’s hard to read the bits where Connor almost loses hope, but he is clever and determined, and turns each situation to his advantage rather than letting it wear him down. Unsurprisingly, it’s very satisfying when Bonvilain gets his comeuppance.

The one thing I found a bit disappointing about Airman was that there weren’t many female characters in it. The two female characters, Connor’s mother Catherine and Queen Isabella, are interesting and do get a great scene at the end of the novel, but it would have been nice to see more of them elsewhere. One of the things I liked most about Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl books was that they featured two really fantastic female characters (Juliet, who is a wrestler and bodyguard, and Holly, who is a fairy soldier), so it was a shame that Airman didn’t spend much time with the female characters.

Airman does have some potentially upsetting scenes and some violence in it, but Eoin Colfer shows the effect that violence has on Connor and one of the most powerful aspects of the book is that, no matter how much has happened, he always feels remorse or hesitation if he has to hurt someone. While he was in prison, Connor had to do lots of things he wouldn’t have chosen to do and became tougher, but he never forgets about his dreams.

For an adventure story with a lot of heart, try Airman by Eoin Colfer (QUICK READS 823.91).

If you’re hungry for more adventure…

Read about the exploits of Eoin Colfer’s most famous character, Artemis Fowl, a millionaire boy genius who may be able to hack the most secure bank vault but isn’t very good at making friends. In Artemis Fowl (QUICK READS 823.91), he discovers the existence of a fairy world that is hidden from humans and threatens to reveal its existence. Of course, the fairies aren’t too happy about it!

Try Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce in which a teenager who is far taller than all his classmates competes with adults to go into space, or Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz about the nephew of a spy who has to take over when his uncle dies and stop the bad guys who killed him. (Both found in QUICK READS 823.91) Artemis Fowl and Stormbreaker are also available as audiobooks and graphic novels in our QUICK READS section.

Go back in time and try some classic adventure stories. We have graphic novel adaptations of loads of daring tales, including Treasure Island, The Time Machine, and Robin Hood. (QUICK READS – GRAPHIC NOVELS 741.5941) Go on an adventure with pirates, buried treasure and ghosts, journey into the future, and rob from the rich to give to the poor!

Airman is all about the history of flight, and Anthony Horowitz put a section at the back filled with facts about how the first aeroplanes were invented and what sort of aircraft people tried to make before that. To learn more about planes, hot air balloons and some of the weirder attempts people made over the centuries before they managed to fly, read A History of Flight From Balloons to Boeings by Peter Lafferty (BOOK ZONE 629.1309), and have a look at how planes work with Look Inside Cross-Sections: Planes by Michael Johnstone and Hans Jenssen (BOOK ZONE 629.1341).

six book challenge

To sign up for the Six Book Challenge, speak to staff in the Information Store or check out the blog post here. Remember – it ends in June, so you still have time to give it a go!

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