What happens if you combine The Lies of Locke Lamora with air ships, then add some Pirates of the Caribbean? This. This is what happens. Chris Wooding nailed it in Retribution Falls.
I'll get this out of the way. I've been told it's a lot like Firefly. You may have to take away my geek card here ... but I've never seen Firefly. The movie, Serenity, was excellent, but I'm still looking forward to checking out the show. This means I can't confirm or deny the comparison.
I apologize for any non-Firefly comparisons. I've been reprimanded before.
Darian Frey and a rag-tag crew of misunderstood and much-maligned individuals seeking a place where questions are few engage in smuggling operations, but decide to take on piracy even though it hasn't worked well for Frey in the past. The price, however, will make him set for life, especially if he fails to share the proceeds with the rest of the crew.
Thus sets off the events that follow in a rip-roaring, page-turning, blast of a read. I hate to use such cliche's (as if I'm innocent of their use in plenty of other reviews), but in this case there is no better way to describe this book.
I've read Wooding before, his middle-grade books Malice and Havoc, and I learned his ability to plot is up there with Matthew Woodring Stover for me. Add the ability to make the pages blur by and Wooding (not to be confused with Woodring) is another author to add to the buy-new-releases-immediately list.
I had tons of fun from the first page, which btw throws you right into some action, and I can't recommend this enough. Airships and piracy and a main protagonist as clever as Locke Lamora. You can't lose.
4.5 out of 5 Stars (very highly recommended)