Eoin Colfer is the renowned author of several novels for young readers, including the Artemis Fowl series. While I've never read any of his other books, his newest novel, Airman, stood out to me when I walked passed it in Barnes and Noble three months ago. The cover, with its daring, winged man, caught my eye. Just reading the back was fascinating, and I was convinced I would read it soon.
Last week I requested Airman at the library and started it the day it came in. Within a few pages, I was hooked. This is one of those stories that is crafted either horribly or excellently - and from the beginning I was convinced it was the latter. It starts with the beginning of Conor Broekhart's life - his amazing birth in a hot-air balloon. From then on, he is respected and beloved by all around him. He lives a perfect life on Great Saltee, one of the two Saltee islands just off the southeastern coast of Ireland. After saving the life of the Saltee Island's princess and the throne's only heir, he is given professional training. His mentor is Frenchman Victor Vigny, a master of the physical arts, such as karate, as well as swordplay. Victor is also very learned in aeronautics. He and Conor both wish more than anything to build a machine that would allow man to fly.
However, they are never given the chance to live out this dream. Through a sudden turn of events, Conor's world, as well as that of his family's and the royal family's, is thrown into mayhem, danger, and bitter loss. Through the story, Colfer weaves an amazing change in Conor as his life changes. We see him grow from baby to man, all in 400 pages.
If I could describe this book in one word, it would be emotional. In the best of all ways. I felt a number of emotions: anger, frustration, love, heartache, and amazement. I was inspired by Conor's story. I loved (and hated) the characters. I wanted to fly.
This is a very culturized book. While none of the events in the book ever happened, and King Nicholas Trudeau of the Saltee Islands never actually lived, it feels so real that I completely believed in everything Colfer wrote about. However, after doing research, I discovered that Great Saltee and Little Saltee were privately owned by man named Michael Neale. After his death his son, Prince Michael Neale the Second took his place.
Colfer's writing stood out to me as well. His sentences were well-formed and his word choices were beautiful. It inspired me to pick up my own stories again, as I've put them on hold during the last part of the school year. I look forward to reading more of Colfer's work, and to continue to be inspired by his fascinating writing and characters.
"If you are a dreamer, come in
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer...
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
The words of Shel Silverstein will never cease to come in handy. So yes, you! Speed reader, slow reader, book collector, young reader, old reader, blogger, author, publisher... Come in! Come in!