This is going to be my first ever book review, and as such I’ve decided to try something new out. There’s not going to be a score at the end of this review. Instead, I’m going to let my words do the talking, as I believe books are a more subjective experience that a simple number can’t properly sum up. So without further ado, let’s get into it.
Written by my good friend, Christopher Hopper, The Sky Riders (An Inventors World Novel) is a difficult book to describe, simply because it doesn’t fit into any single genre. While it places an emphasis on steampunk, the novel could also be classified as science fiction and fantasy, or more accurately, a meshing of all three.
Hopper knows exactly how to catch a reader’s attention, as fans of his previous works surely understand, and that stays very true here, as The Sky Riders may just be his best book yet. I was hooked before I even finished the first chapter, and not once did the story lose me.
The plot is immensely intriguing, not only because of its premise, but because of its location. You see, in this fantastical world the well-off live in a land in the clouds, a place called Aria-Prime. Here, we meet our seventeen-year old protagonist Junar as he begins his adventure in becoming an Ace Pilot, much like his father did before him.
Junar is your typical teenager: confident, determined, and desperate for thrills. And with a father whose entire job revolves around taming and riding the winged beasts known as the felrell, who could blame him? Flying these majestic creatures is all that Junar wants to do, but in order to get into the Kili-Boranna Guild, better known as The Sky Riders, Junar will have to prove himself in ways he could never have imagined.
While the world is very much new, and even intimidating, as a reader I never felt lost or even confused. Hopper lays out this world he’s created piece by piece, enticing you with the little details before unveiling the intricate inner workings of the setting. It’s an ingenious technique, and one that more than pays off.
At its core, The Sky Riders is a story of discovery. Not just for Junar, but for the reader as well. Thanks to the acute employment of a first-person perspective, the reader feels as if they’re riding through the story right along with Junar, sharing in his wonder, excitement, victories, and failures.
But since he’s the eyes through which we see the world, Junar absolutely had to be able to carry the story on his shoulders, and thankfully, he can. While not immediately likable, Junar’s character arc is poignant, personal, and most importantly, relatable. This is very much a coming of age story for Junar, and seeing this young man find himself in a world of deceit and conspiracy really grips you.
While there are many interesting, colorful characters that Junar comes across, some of them seemed a touch cliche, but thankfully this makes the cast especially likable and easy to identify with. They all contribute to Junar’s story in their own way, and I can’t think of a single character who wasn’t important in their own way.
For me, however, the real selling point here is the world itself. I’m not quite sure how he did it, but Hopper managed to create a world that seems eerily similar to our own, yet staggeringly different. And seeing it open itself up to you is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have in the novel.
With its relevant political themes, gorgeous scenery, and hidden mysteries, The Sky Rider is a story that demands your time and attention, and even long after I’ve finished it I’m just thirsting for more. I was completely floored from beginning to end and definitely want to see more of what this world holds.
With The Sky Riders, Christopher Hopper is very much at the top of his game, managing to create a fantastical adventure that’s not only a joy to read, but presents the reader with a fully-developed world that’s just waiting to be explored. This is a story that will stick with me for a long time, and I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here.