Teen Review: Airman
Review by Syed, member of the Albert Campbell Youth Advisory Group
Many people will have read Eoin (pronounced Owen) Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series and enjoyed it thoroughly. Well, most of them would have enjoyed it anyways. And if they are searching for another one of Colfer’s masterpieces, then it is better to let their first pick be Airman. Why? Well, read on to find out!
Set in the 19th century at Saltee Islands, Airman describes our main character, Conor Broekhart, peacefully passing his days in his youth when he is caught up in a plot to overthrow the king. To make it worse, when he tries to foil the rebellion, he fails and is wrongly accused and convicted of taking part in the rebellion. He is then sent to prison to work in a diamond mine and die there. However, as most youth are, Conor is a rebellious fellow and refuses to let other people decide his fate, a conviction he reached after gaining courage and help from a close friend. From there on, he turns into a mastermind, plotting strategies and secretly working on an escape route from the diamond mine all while gaining allies along the way.
Although this may seem like a typical fiction novel, its content and setting set it apart from countless other books. The content not only includes physical action, which is to be expected of an action genre book, but also details the mental aspect of the story. It goes into quite a bit of detail about the strategies Conor devises for escape, which is a nice change to see and better than a pure physical action book.
Another aspect of the book that immensely appealed to me was the importance of minor characters. Characters who only got a little screen time (or reading time in this case) were really important to the development of the plot, cases being Uncle and the prisoner made warden in the book. Although you may not know some of these characters now, you will definitely appreciate the significant parts they play in the plot despite having less screen time than other characters.
To add to Colfer’s achievements, Airman was also shortlisted for the 2009 Carnegie Medal, a British literary award that recognizes an outstanding new book for children or young adults (Google). Although Airman couldn’t grab the medal, even being nominated is a big achievement.
I am also sure that most of you have either heard of and/or read Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Reading Airman kind of reminded me of Treasure Island with similarities occurring in rebellions, smart main characters and an intricate plot. And being compared to Treasure Island is a feat in itself!
I would definitely recommend this book to Artemis Fowl fans, and action, adventure, and fiction fans alike. This book gets a 5/5 star rating from me!
And to top it all off, Publishers Weekly says about Airman, “Starred review. Artemis Fowl fans will flock to this novel, and the polished, sophisticated storytelling here deserves an even wider audience than that bestseller. Conor Broekhart’s superpower is his brain, and he uses his smarts to fight tyranny. A tour de force. Ages 10-up.” A tour de force, indeed!