Author: Scott Westerfeld
Series: Leviathan #1
Published by: Simon Pulse in September 2009
It is the cusp of World War I. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ genetically fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.
Aleksandar Ferdinand, a Clanker, and Deryn Sharp, a Darwinist, are on opposite sides of the war. But their paths cross in the most unexpected way, taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure….One that will change both their lives forever.
If you happen to be looking for a good steampunk*/fantasy novel, than hooray: you’ve found it. In Leviathan there’s a perfect mix of fantasy (the genetically fabricated beasts such as the tigeresque, the Huxley and the Leviathan) and sci-fi (the giant robot type of weapons such as the Stormwalker or the Herkules) and because this all takes place during World War I it makes this book a steampunk novel. This is basically WWI but with the Clankers on one side (= Germans) and the Darwinists on the other (= Britain) and they both use different weapons: the robots and the beasts.
This book has two POV’s: Aleksander’s and Deryn’s. Aleksander is the son of the murdered archduke of Austria and Deryn is a girl posing as a boy to get in the British Air Service. They end up on the Leviathan together but I’m not going to spoil how that happens. Alek has some great character development going on. We meet him as an insecure boy, thrown in at the deep end, he doesn’t know what’s going on and on top of that he receives bad, bad news. But throughout the book, he changes. He grows confident and takes responsibility, he basically collaborates with the enemy for his and their good (though I just made it sound worse than it actually is). Even though I still don’t know too much about him, I’m starting to really like this kid.
And then there’s Deryn who’s the tomboy and who’s very brave from the start. I admire her strength a lot. I don’t feel like she changed much throughout the book but she’s still a great character. I also liked how Scott Westerfeld added in Dr. Barlow, the only woman in this story (apart from Deryn of course but she’s posing as boy so it doesn’t really count) because I feel like he made this character a woman to keep it all in balance (kind of). Of course there will be other reasons on why Dr. Barlow is in the story but that’s just my theory. I find her a very interesting character though, a little suspicious even because we don’t know THAT much about her and we also don’t know what her incentive is.
I enjoyed reading this book because there’s action and suspense from page 1 till the end which I simply LOVE in a book. I also found this an interesting read because this is only the second steampunk series I’ve dived into and it’s already totally different (from The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare). And the fact that I simply love history and everything about it definitely helped too…
Oh! The illustrations in the book (YES! There are pictures!) really helped me with understanding everything and being able to accurately picture everything in my head.
You are left with a few questions unanswered at the end of Leviathan and so I’m already pumped to read Behemoth and Goliath and see how Alek and Deryn’s and their companions’ story goes on. I’m also curious about Dr. Barlow and her motives and just everything about her. I want to know who this woman is!