Uncrashable Dakota

320p. Holt. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780805096309.
Gr 7 Up—On its surface, this novel seems to possess all the fundamental elements of good, solid steampunk: Victorian sensibilities, an enormous airship, a plucky inventor girl, an alternate history, and…flatulent beetles? During the Civil War, Hollis Dakota's grandfather was a soldier whose clumsiness resulted in the serendipitous discovery of the secret of flight. Decades later, in 1912, Hollis, his mother, his stepbrother, and his stepfather board what is the fruition of the Dakotas's hard work and vision: the magnificent Wendell Dakota, a glorious airship said to be uncrashable. But a dark secret in the family's past will have ramifications for the vessel, and not long after the launch, hijackers take control. Their ineptitude with the gassy beetles that make the ship airborne begins a trajectory toward certain destruction. As many themes are explored throughout the story-class, family secrets, friendship, bizarre beetle-worshiping cults, a superficial connection to the Titanic, along with the typical steampunk fare-readers may have difficulty following along. The characters aren't nuanced. Instead, they seem to be pale reflections of what fans of the genre expect and the relationships between Hollis and company lack depth. Ultimately, a valid choice for readers who have devoured every other steampunk novel on the shelf.—Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO
Everyone believed their airship was uncrashable, but no one counted on it being hijacked. In 1912, when Hollis discovers a nefarious plot to steal the family airship company, Dakota Aeronautics, he must save his mother and the rest of the passengers. This alternative history will appeal to fans of Kenneth Oppel's Airborn as well as those interested in the Titanic.

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