Skyship Academy by Nick James
Nick James' debut novel Skyship Academy is a fast-paced, captivating thrill ride from start to finish. In the aftermath of the American-Chinese war a totalitarian government arose. Dissidents and cessessionists retreated to the great Skyships and a new world balance was created. After war loomed between those on the ground and those in the skyships, the Hernandez Treaty was signed, which drew a line in atmosphere no one was permitted to cross, separating the Skyship world above from the devastated earth and its corrupt Surface government. In this dystopian future the only viable fuel are fist-sized, emerald green pearls of energy which fall from the sky. The only power that can power a Skyship, the Pearls are a heavily sought-after commodity, and both governments are desperate to get their hands on as many as possible. The conflict has lain dormant for years, but both sides admit war is inevitable. Little does anyone know that the first spark that would become the Pearl Wars would be between two teenage boys, the Skyship slacker Jesse Fisher, and Cassius Stevenson, a Surface operative. What happens between them in the presence of a Pearl sets in motion a desperate chase spanning earth and sky as both governments search for the Pearls, and Jesse Fisher, said to be the key to everything.
As debut novels go, Skyship Academy is, by most standards, excellent. It flows together nicely and runs at a fast pace throughout like a good thriller ought to. Non-stop action, as clichéd as the phrase is, remains just about the only good description of the book. It is also the only novel, to my knowledge, to combine first-person present-tense for one character (I go over to the fridge and open it. She stares at me curiously as I do so) and third-person past-tense for the other (He went to the door and stepped through it). If it is not the first to try it, it was certainly the first to do so successfully for me; as one generally annoyed by present tense or second-person narratives, this one integrated them both fluidly and in a way that did not disrupt my investment in the story. No easy feat.
What is more, while James' prose generally reaches toward the minimalist end of the spectrum, as is the standard for most thriller-oriented fiction, it is very solid. Especially with regard to Jesse his prose most often transcends functionality, bursting as it is with genuine character voice. His description of Cassius' explosion on the train and its subsequent derailment in particular stands out to me as an act of narrative wisdom; where most authors would be tempted to wax eloquent with description of screaming people and great, blinding bursts of fire, James' takes the unexpected route and instead paints for us a picture that steps away from the characters, reporting the event as a newspaper might have done. “At 10:08 p. m., halfway between Portland and Spokane, car number fourteen exploded in a great ball of fire, lighting up the darkness for miles around. … The Unified Party would later blame the accident on a Peal power surge, though the Fringers would somehow convince themselves that they were responsible. Nobody would believe the truth, that a fifteen-year-old boy had taken down the entire Chute carrying more than 500 passengers without so much as a weapon. The country was in dire straits, fore sure, but something like that was just ridiculous,” (229-230). A great narrative choice, that keeps the story fresh.
This is not to say that the novel is free of problems. Occasionally a dialogue scene feels a bit forced, and once or twice the prose is too minimalistic or something happens too quickly. Cassius' infiltration of the Skyship Academy warranted greater expansion, I think. At other times, James' descriptions and atmosphere hit just the right note, as in the opening confrontation between Jesse and Cassius. While having a fifteen-year-old at a secret training academy aboard a Skyship does not stretch credulity, having a fifteen-year-old be a governmental operative does come close to stretching it. Otherwise, the book is sharply written, and a worthy debut novel. I hear that this is merely book one of a series, and so I await the others with great anticipation.
This Skyship Academy book review was written by AT Ross
All reviews for: The Pearl Wars
The Pearl Wars: Book 1
A devastated Earth's last hope is found in Pearls: small, mysterious orbs that fall from space and are capable of supplying enough energy to power entire cities. Battli...
Have you read Skyship Academy?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Skyship Academy reader reviews
Arishia Star from North Americ
Omg I love dis book!
Mary from Seattle
I enjoyed this book, the storyline was unique and different. I enjoyed how the book's plot expannded toward the end and I defnitely want to see how the next book plays out. It was a good read.
9.1/10 from 3 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The Girl and the Stars
Only when it's darkest can you see the stars.East of the Black Rock, out on the ice, lies a hole down which broken children are thrownOn the vastness of t...
Spensa's world has been under attack for hundreds of years. An alien race called the Krell leads onslaught after onslaught from the sky in a never-ending campaign to de...
The Obernewtyn Chronicles
In a world struggling back from the brink of apocalypse, life is harsh. But for Elspeth Gordie, born with enhanced mental abilities, it is also dangerous. Survival is only ...
Cirque du Freak
Darren Shan seems like your average boy--he likes playing football with his mates, passing notes in class and loves spiders. Then, one day, his best mate Steve gets tickets...
Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning? In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies t...
Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to dest...
Following Peter Newman’s brilliant debut, THE VAGRANT. This is the much-anticipated sequel, THE MALICE.In the south, the Breach stirs.Gamma’s swor...
Ever since the floods came and washed the world away, survivors have been desperate to win a place on X Isle, the island where life is rumoured to be easier than on what...
The Testament of Jessie Lamb
Women are dying in their millions. Some blame scientists, some see the hand of God. As she watches her world collapsing, Jessie Lamb decides she wants to make her life coun...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: