One of many great things about being such a voracious reader is that friends and family can always rely on books as an easy gift idea for me.  And one of the great things about January is that I get to enjoy all the great books I was blessed to receive as Christmas gifts.  Airborn by Kenneth Oppel was one such gift.

Airborn follows the story of Matt Cruse, a young cabin boy working on a majestic airship. When a man rescued from a drifting hot air balloon tells Matt about strange flying creatures in the sky, the young Mr. Cruse seeks to discover if there is truth to the man's ramblings. However, life on an airship is already full of adventures with wealthy passengers and sky pirates filling the story with plenty of swashbuckling action!

Airborn was a wonderful mix of historical fantasy, science fiction, and adventure. Kenneth Oppel creates a dazzling world ruled by sky-travel in airships and his detailed writing brings his scenery to life. The characters are well-drawn and very engaging and fans of this book will be eagerly reaching for Skybreaker, the next entry in this charming series!

For a long time I was a little vague on the concept of "Steampunk".  I had heard the term plenty of times and I hang around with enough sci-fi geeks (I use that classification as the utmost compliment) to have a rough idea of the meaning, but Airborn was my first foray into Steampunk literature - although I've since found out that several people consider The Invention of Hugo Cabret an example of steampunk too.  For those unfamiliar, steampunk deals with an alternative historical setting in which the Victorian era is dominated by the age of steam engines, airships and various other imaginative mechanical contraptions, such as in Matt Cruse's floating world.  Wikipedia has a further explanation here.  I never knew how expansive this sub-genre of science fiction was before I started looking at other books similar to Airborn, but now that I know a little about you can guess it's a genre I'll check out in the future!