Review: Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars by Nick James

The Pearl Wars (Skyship Academy, #1) by Nick James

How did I get it: Flux sent me a review copy. Thank you!

Why did I read it: I really liked the cover and the premise. Particularly the fact that it is about and from the point of view of two male teens.

How I would rate it: 3.5 out of 5 stars.


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. Battling to control the Pearls are the Skyship dwellers—political dissidents who live in massive ships in the Earth’s stratosphere—and the corrupt Surface government.

Jesse Fisher, a Skyship slacker, and Cassius Stevenson, a young Surface operative, cross paths when they both venture into forbidden territory in pursuit of Pearls. Their chance encounter triggers an unexpected reaction, endowing each boy with remarkable—and dangerous—abilities that their respective governments would stop at nothing to possess.

Enemies thrust together with a common goal, Jesse and Cassius make their way to the ruins of Seattle to uncover the truth about their new powers, the past they didn’t know they shared, and a shocking secret about the Pearls.

Review: First and foremost, I have to say I applaud this book’s originality and that I am still really pleased by how different it was from a lot of the Young Adult titles that have come out in recent months. There were a lot of unique concepts such as the world Cassius and Jesse were living in and what was going on behind the scenes with their technology.

In terms of the main characters, I liked that the book was from two opposing point of views, but I didn’t like both characters equally. Jesse was an odd pick as a main character since he was fairly dull and normal with no real drive or motivation. He was a blank slate with potential though so it’ll be interesting to see what he becomes as the series continues, but I wouldn’t have minded being given more to like about him here in the first book. Cassius, while misguided and dangerous, was far more well-rounded and developed in terms of himself and in terms of his story arc. He also provided a decent amount of forward momentum both for himself and for Jesse. As a result of his competence and personality, he was decidedly my favorite part of the book.

When it came to the minor characters, I felt like everyone was entirely too underdeveloped. This was particularly and unfortunately true of Madame and Captain Alkine, adult leaders in charge of opposing governing forces. Alkine comes across as the Good Guy and Madame definitely comes across as the Bad Guy. Several characters attempted to suggest there was a gray area somewhere though so I’m sort of hopeful that one will emerge as the series moves forward. I also hope there’s a bit more of Eva and Skandar in the next book.

Plot-wise, I felt like the opening and ending were a lot stronger than the follow-up to the initial action-packed introduction to both protagonists. The book didn’t seem to go anywhere for the longest time and when it did, a lot of sections and chapters still seemed sort of irrelevant. I liked the sort of graphic novel vibe I got from The Pearl Wars though. What was going on with the Pearls was fascinating and I’m excited to see where this series is headed. I think my only concern is that the story itself will be overshadowed by very awesome concepts, world-building, and plot twists. This isn’t a very bad thing, but it can certainly be problematic for character-driven readers like myself.

In conclusion, a cool and engaging series opener. While not a completely flawless read, I devoured the book quickly and I am certainly eager to read the next Skyship Academy book once it comes out. I would definitely suggest getting a hold of a copy of The Pearl Wars if you have a chance. Particularly if you’re a fan of adventurous Young Adult Fiction.

Other Reviews:

About April

I'm a librarian, reader, and writer whose main goal in life is to be able to swim in books the way Scrooge McDuck swims in money. Although my reading choices will always be wildly eclectic and I never plan on leaving any genre unexplored, my favorite reads tend to be Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Gay Romance, or Historical Fiction. You can e-mail me at inspector[dot]librarian[at]gmail[dot]com.
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4 Responses to Review: Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars by Nick James

  1. I have to say I love the looks of this cover and the sounds of the book as well. Sorry to hear it lagged in the middle some for you. Thanks for the review.

  2. Pingback: Reader’s Progress #37 | CSI: Librarian

  3. Comic Sans says:

    I haven’t read this book for a while, but I still loved it. Was anybody else shocked by the ending?

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