Starclimber is the third book in the Matt Cruse series, and it delivers splendidly. Picking up two years after Skybreaker, in the mid-1930s, friends Matt and Kate de Vries are fighting to be among the first Canadians in outer space, at the same time the French plan to reach space first with their Celestial Tower. Matt is going as an astralnaut while Kate goes to search for extraterrestrial life as a full blown aerial zoologist. Like its predecessors, Starclimber is filled with danger and adventure at every turn – a group of people called Babbelites seek to end all space adventure, and they’ll stop at nothing to achieve their goal. During Matt and Kate’s special astralnaut training, they face rigorous tests, sabotage, old rivals, and bitter disappointment. The action never stops as Matt and Kate are then thrust into space where they face even more challenges. Readers are left wondering if they’ll ever get back to earth, or if the friends are destined to die in space.
One of the greatest things about Starclimber is the character interaction. The reader feels as though he’s with Matt and Kate every step of the way, trying to determine what comes next. Matt and Kate’s relationship combined with their opposing personalities makes for a great pairing. Their interaction sounds normal and down-to-earth, not canned and silly. The addition of favorite characters from the first two books makes Starclimber all the more likable, focusing on more than just Matt and Kate’s relationship. Starclimber develops all the characters as they struggle with the pitfalls of space journey.
Perhaps the best part of Starclimber is the description of outer space. Oppel puts it into words beautifully, again making the reader feel as though he were right there in the ship. It also provides a well-timed break in the action, giving the reader a moment to breathe and marvel at Oppel’s writing, which could make anyone want to visit space. The Music of the Spheres is an interesting addition, trapping the astralnauts with its beautiful sounds.
Oppel’s alternate historical timeline is so well conceived and planned out, that it in itself could be a book. In addition, the plot development and story twists are enough to keep every reader enthralled down to the last page, making Starclimber well worth checking out.
Caleb is 15, and currently resides in Portland, Oregon. He’s the former author of a sports blog that has been featured by several major outlets. He also writes short stories and develops novel ideas whenever possible, and, obviously, loves to read. Follow him on twitter @CalMM15.