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The Pearl Wars (Skyship Academy, Book 1) Paperback – September 8, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Skyship Academy Series

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Editorial Reviews


A fast-paced adventure that delivers solid action sequences throughout. - Publisher's Weekly

This first novel is a refreshing departure from the strict dystopian trend. There are plenty of plot surprises and action sequences to keep the pages turning, and the treatment of terrorist attacks and environmental concerns will prompt readers to make connections with their own lives. - Booklist

The reader does not get shortchanged on action, so even reluctant readers will find plenty of entertainment. Because the main characters are depicted with both self-doubt and philosophical crises, readers who require more depth to their post-apocalyptic epics will be satisfied as well. - VOYA

Skyship Academy is the perfect book for teens that like science fiction. - SLJTeen

About the Author

Inspired by the big drama and snappy dialogue of comic books and graphic novels by Brian K. Vaughan and Brian Michael Bendis, Nick James began writing at a young age. His love of fast-paced storytelling led to his action-packed science fiction series for young adults, Skyship Academy. James grew up in the small island town of Anacortes, Washington. He graduated from Western Washington University in 2006 and currently works as a substitute teacher in Bellingham.

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Product Details

  • Series: Skyship Academy (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Flux; Original edition (September 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 073872341X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738723419
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #944,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Skyship Academy didn't really do it for me until the very end. The ending did redeem it for me, though and make me excited for book two.

I found it difficult to connect with any of the characters I didn't really dislike anyone (though I wasn't a fan of Cassius), but I didn't really care for anyone all that much either. Fisher was okay, but to be quite honest, he was kind of a whiner sometimes. At least towards the end he started to be willing to fight for himself a little more.

I actually did really like the world. It was interesting to see a dystopian world where there was such a dividing line between two sides. There's usually just one unified government or system but here we have Skyshippers and surface dwellers (of which there are two kinds: Chosen city dwellers and Fringe dwellers).

Skyship Academy was a lot of military-type fighting and war talk so if you like that, then you'll probably enjoy it, but I wasn't such a fan. However things got a little more...strange...in the end and I rather liked it. In fact, now that things are in the open in the storyline, I'm rather looking forward to the sequel.

The Nutshell: Though I didn't enjoy a lot of Skyship Academy, I did like the ending which paved the way for me to get excited about book two. If military-ish fighting and war talk are your thing, then you'll probably enjoy Skyship Academy. If you're a fan of interesting dystopian worlds, give this one try.

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Format: Paperback
In the year 2095, the Earth is a parched, blazing hot planet. In order to survive, people are gathered in a few Chosen Cities, surrounded by Bio-Nets to protect and cool them. Power for the cities comes from Pearls -- warm globes of light that fall from space occasionally. Without them, the cities would die, so the search for Pearls is ongoing. Because the Surface Cities are so desperately crowded, political dissidents have established homes in the Skyships -- massive ships in the Earth's stratosphere, and they compete with the Surface dwellers for the Pearls.

This story alternates POV between two 15-year-olds -- Jesse Fisher from a Skyship and Cassius Stevenson from the Surface. Each has some unusual abilities, and when they get together, they trigger some unusual reactions.

I love the concept of this book. So many good ideas! But even with some extensive explanation, the complicated politics were difficult to follow. The Unified Party, the Separatist Movement, the Hernandez Treaty, the Commonwealth, the International Skyline, the Skyship Academy, the Scarlet Bombings, Fringers, Shippers, and the Chronic Energy Crisis Commission. Since I didn't get the politics, and kept reading anyway, I wonder if some of the explanations of politics could have been simplified or eliminated.

Teen post-apocalyptic and sci-fi lovers would enjoy this book.
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Format: Paperback
Please understand that all my reviews focus on the interests of my middle school students.

No, the book is not Riordan-like in the sense that it deals with Greek mythology. It is that I always put The Lightning Thief way up the list for incredible debut novels. Skyship Academy is, to me, in the same stratosphere. Whether or not it catches the fancy of the YA crowd to the same degree is something I can't always predict. I mean, I liked the Gregor series more than the Hunger Games, but Collins' bank account wouldn't agree.

The book is another dystopian novel, but with special twists and turns. It starts fast. ("My fingers grip the ledge, searching for cracks. The rest of me dangles in the empty sky like some demented human windsock. I hear him approach . . . closer to crunching my fingers until I let go in agony and plummet twelve stories to the cracked pavement below. Splat goes me.") Then, it speeds up.

The hero, Jesse, is one of my favorite types. He is insecure, has had little success at anything, and does not initially inspire much confidence. But, boy, when the stuff starts flying, he shows great courage, loyalty, and growth. The heroine, Eva, is just the opposite: confident, successful, and someone to depend on. She doesn't shrivel, either, when the action starts. A third character, Cassius, starts out an enemy, but figures to become just the opposite and much more likable as the series continues.

One of James's interesting twists is that this dystopia is not controlled by one massive, evil government. Instead, you have two (one on what is left of earth and one which lives in massive ships in space) with exactly opposite goals. Oh, and you have the Fringers, a population outside the control of either government.
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Format: Paperback
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.
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