Monday, July 20, 2009

Airman

Airman, by Eoin Colfer, is a not-entirely-predictable little formula romance (14-year-old boy witnesses crime, is unjustly imprisoned and mistreated, makes heroic escape and rights all wrongs) with steampunk aspirations and gothic lite horrors. A good boy's book, certainly, and also not a bad one to while away a couple of hours in a car repair waiting room, which is where I breezed through it.

Here are a few of the gothic lite" details. On arriving with various wounds at a prison island, the 14-year-old hero, Conor, is put into a 6'X6' pool with "clouds of algae and slime" and "feeder mites....freshwater parasites" which "chipped off blood and scab, diving deep into gashes, chewing back to the bare wound." He spends two years alone in a dark, damp cell, scratching "a thousand calculations, schematics, and blueprints" on the stone wall in an alcove "with roughly the dimensions of four stacked coffins."

But Conor is so brave and true and valiant that not only does he triumph over the evil man who killed his King and put him in prison, no one has to die along the way--not anyone he cares about, not the leader of the prison gang who was hired to beat him every day, and not even the brutal prison guards.

I was irresistably reminded of the 1991 movie The Rocketeer while reading this book, published in 2008. There is little suspence about how Conor will triumph, since modern readers know that his designs for gliders--and ultimately an airplane--will work. And what do you have when you put together a novel with not-too-scary gothic touches and a not-too-suspenseful resolution? A pretty good adventure story for the sheltered children of the new millenium.

2 comments:

Poppy Buxom said...

OK, so maybe I'll give it a try. I tried Half Moon Investigations and it wasn't a patch on Artemis Fowl. I couldn't get past the booger jokes. It

Amanda said...

Hi Jeanne - I came by after you commented out on my Tender Morsels post at The Zen Leaf, and I have to say "Necromany Never Pays" is the best name for a blog I've ever seen. It's just great!

I read Airman back in December. It was my first introduction to YA books. I'd been reading some middle grade books for awhile, especially older award-winners, but mostly I stuck to classics because I didn't like modern adult fiction very much. Airman changed my outlook though, and I learned I really like YA.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by my blog, and keep revealing those indisputable truths about literature!