If Cloudriders had been around when I was 12, I doubt I would have made it to school until I’d read it cover to cover -- twice. Nick Cook, author of this magnetic, young adult adventure, the first in a series of three, has captured my imagination though the eyes of its protagonists, Dom and Jules – two characters that resonate teen angst/exploration, and is built of the stuff every kid aspires to be.
Nick cook winds his words around your mind just like the twisters in Cloudriders. The imagery that is used in the wonderful sci-fi novel, Cloudriders, is created with an eloquent fervency surpassed only by such greats as Hemmingway and Twain (in my opinion); yet it is so subtly suited to its younger, intended audience that it’s like swallowing silken, melted chocolate.
This is a tale of fiction, yet it weaves in all that is possible in our undiscovered Universe, too. It’s set in the tornado territories of the USA, with real settings and tragic back stories, jealousy and breath-taking scenery as well as other-worldly interventions.
What drew me to this book was a love of Quantum Physics and Mechanics – yes, this is totally true. Nick shares my same admiration for Nikola Tesla, a phenomenal scientist who is only just beginning to receive the recognition for his discoveries within the Quantum realms, today...
What Cloudriders cleverly does is to introduce such concepts with ease, so as not to overload the mind – yet it is done with obvious passion and sympathy to a perhaps unenlightened audience.
So what happens?
Dom and Jules are lifelong friends, each having lost a parent unexpectedly– making them closer than ever. Their feisty yet flirty relationship comes under threat when, after a super-storm dry spell in their beloved, Tornado Alley, a Twister suddenly appears and brings with it an adversary for the usually calm Jules.
Two explorers, a mother and extremely pretty daughter, emerge from the spout of an enormous Twister on board their airship, Athena. Dom is not only smitten with Angelique, long flowing hair – the lilt of the Provence, but he is acting like a complete idiot according to his other secret admirer, Jules. What he doesn’t realise is that his life is about to get complicated in more ways than one. Jules immediately dislikes the rather exuberant girl her own age and is determined to find her flaw – at any cost. What is worse are the ensuing terrors in the form of a warring, space expedition hell-bent on the annihilation of Angelique and her mother. They’re not far behind the mysterious travellers and they don’t have anyone’s best intentions at heart.
There are so many beautiful angles to how this story is told, so many amazing characters that add a rich flavour to an already fragrant pot of yummy, cosmic representation. Dom’s fathers friends, relentless, enigmatic storm chasers who are on a quest of their own – and indeed the open-ended tale of Dom’s father’s tragic, yet puzzling disappearance inside a Twister. And also the curious, unexplained rumblings and esoteric music that sits inside the belly of Athena, the airship – singing and humming like a living, breathing being. The eyes widen as you read, the mind enquires and the pulse turns somersaults.
I don’t want to spoil the rest of the book because it should be experienced wholly internally – as if you were 12 – as if you WERE there.
Cloudriders symbolises many things. The importance of science and the universe, the panorama of both sky and land; it harmonises love and it’s many complicated side-effects, the confusion that surrounds us all in times of palpitation, but most important of all it embodies adventure, imagination, wanderlust and spirit.
This is the kind of book that will transport you back to a time when you believed you could be an astronaut, a brain surgeon -- even the Queen. This is the kind of book you will wish you had written.