Airborn by Kenneth Oppel:
I love this book. Airborn is a YA fiction that follows the adventures of Matt Cruse as he works aboard the luxury passenger airship Aurora. It is filled with all of the elements that make for a great and entertaining tale; it has a mystery delivered by a dying pilot rescued from a drifting balloon, sky pirates, a crash landing on a remote island, and the discovery of a new species of flying “cloud cats.”
Because of this last feature, I listed Airborn as a fantasy, even though the novel contains an overall Victorian theme that could place it in the Steampunk category. The author doesn't beat the reader over the head with the atmosphere of the Steampunk genre. Instead, he used it as a delightful backdrop for a truly wonderful adventure story that is full of action and includes an innocent and lovely budding love interest in the character of Kate de Vries.
There are three novels in the series: In Skybreaker, the crew attempts a dangerous high-altitude recovery operation. Starclimber introduces a massive elevator ride into space up a tethered satellite. While these next two novels are very good, my heart still yearns for more adventures aboard the Aurora. Oppel did such a good job capturing the way it feels to live aboard an airship that I’d hoped to experience more of that.
Get the whole series:
Book 1: Airborn
Book 2: Skybreaker
Book 3: Starclimber