AIRMAN; Eoin Colfer; New York: Hyperion, 2008, 412 pp. Juvenile/Young Adult fiction
Conor Broekhart was not only born to fly, he was born flying, coming prematurely to mortality as his parents fought to survive a hot-air balloon crash. He and his family live on the sovereign Saltee Islands off the coast of Ireland, enjoying a fine life under the benevolent reign of King Nicholas, until Conor is set up to take the fall when the king is killed, and shipped off to the terrible prison of Little Saltee. His parents and best friend, Princess Isabella, think him dead; he thinks they have chosen to believe the false charges against him and have abandoned him. Conor changes much during his imprisonment, hardening himself against the pleasant memories of his former life, and using his intelligence and determination to plan an escape that incorporates his aeronautical acumen. Airman is a straightforward, ripping yarn about wickedness in high places and courage and compassion among the young and their elders. Sword-fights, underwater diamond mines, a gang of enforcers known as the Battering Rams, make this thrill-a-minute reading for all ages, but especially for boys of the late elementary and teenage persuasions. The breathtaking climax is followed by a hint of a sequel. One can only hope.