What do you get when you mix a little sci-fi with a smidge dystopian, and top it all off with some incredible world-building? You get Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars, that's what. And it is one phenomenally written and executed book, with plenty of action and a plot that only thickens.
Nick James has created this vast world that is still our Earth, but so different. The three different factions - Skyship, the Unified Party, and the Fringers - have these politics that govern them and it's complicated, but James explains it in ways that make it interesting and easy to get. His descriptions of air ships, the broiling Surface, and the Chosen Cities are vivid. The reader will be right there, alongside Jesse or Cassius.
That brings me to the main character: Jesse Fisher. How can the reader not love Jesse? He's this uncoordinated, scrawny kid with a lot to live up to. Without any family, he always feels alone. He knows he's not going to be the best Pearl agent - or even a decent one at that - but he strives to do well, despite it all.
Cassius, like Jesse, is alone; but unlike Jesse, Cassius succeeds in everything he does. The two boys are on opposite sides of an imposing war, fighting to find the Pearls that power most of their planet. Their struggle to discover who they are, in the wake of bristling new powers, drives the story. Secondary characters like Avery, Alkine, Madame, and Jesse's teammates Eva and Skandar all add some extra depth to the story.
The Pearl Wars is a rare gem of a book that will keep readers on the edge of their seat and blow their minds with the startling conclusion. There was very little that I saw coming in this book and the one thing I did see coming, was miniscule in comparison to the bigger picture. I'm insisting that you read this one yourself. The world-building is astonishingly well-thought out, the characters are fully developed, and everything about the Pearls left me in shock. Nick James is an author to watch and now that I've started this series, I know I'll be unable to ever put it down. I need the next one now!