- Uncrashable Dakota by Andy Marino
It’s April, 1912, and everyone from the humblest steerage passenger to the haughtiest first-class passenger excitedly settles onboard for the transatlantic maiden voyage of the world’s most luxurious, indestructible ship, unaware of what every reader already knows—this ship is doomed. It’s not the Titanic, though, but the airship Dakota, and its nemesis is not an iceberg but the shadowy family histories of the Dakotas and the Castors. Hollis Dakota, age thirteen, is heir to the airship company established by his grandfather, Samuel, who discovered the secret of flight (involving moonshine, tree sap, and beetles), and sold that secret to the Union Army to end the Civil War in 1862. Hollis’ mother married Jeff Castor, now the ship’s chief operating officer, following her husband’s death, and Hollis continues to be best friends with Castor’s teenage son, Rob. That friendship is sorely tested, though, when Castor hijacks the newly christened Wendell Dakota with the help of disgruntled ex-Confederates and eerie beetle-worshiping cultists. As the boys discover that each family has a larcenous skeleton in the closet, they must strike an agreement to cease domestic hostilities and land the battered airship and its passengers safely. Marino’s tale will certainly delight Titanic enthusiasts, who will easily catch the many parallels he draws between the real and fictional ships. There’s also a lot on offer for steampunk fans, such the details of keeping the ship aloft on insect flatulence, and for anyone who likes a well-told adventure in which the family mystery is cleverly interwoven among breakneck action scenes.