Book Review: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
October 21, 2011 § 3 Comments
The world is teetering on the brink of World War 1, but in this alternate history it’s a showdown between the German and Austro-Hungarian “Clankers” with their steam-powered metal war machines and the British “Darwinists” with their fabricated animals. Aleksander Ferdinand is a prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but when his parents are killed he finds himself on the run and he’s not sure from who. Deryn Sharp is a British girl who has disguised herself as a boy in order to sign up for the British Air Service. As the world plunges into war, their paths lead the two unlikely allies together.
When I read the teaser for Leviathan, I was all about the Clankers and their mechanical steam-powered monstrosities and I was more than a little skeptical about the fabricated animals of the Darwinists, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find myself loving Westerfeld’s descriptions of the various animals that the Darwinists have created, from Krakens that support their navy to the whale-like airship Leviathan. Westerfeld’s creations are brought to life by brilliant illustrations throughout the book that really add to the story. I enjoyed both Alek and Deryn, not to mention the supporting cast and the world that Westerfeld creates. My one complaint (and it’s more personal preference than anything) is that it really felt like this was the first act in a larger story and didn’t leave me really satisfied at the end. That said, I have the sequel sitting on my desk right now and can’t wait to read it.
Leviathan is hands down the best young adult steampunk novel I’ve come across and it serves as a great introduction to the genre for anyone. I think there’s a lot to love here for girls (there are two strong and engaging female characters), but I would especially recommend this to boys, even if they’re not big readers already. A good read for sure.