Thursday, September 10, 2009


Last month Dawn sent me the ARC of Scott Westerfeld's new book Leviathan, with the promise that I'd blog about it on one of the blogs within 30 days. I believe today is exactly 30 days from that offer - I actually thought I'd missed it by a day or two. Whew!


Leviathan seems to be getting some pretty good hype, what with the book trailer and release of illustrations ahead of the book release date. It's a new direction for Scott Westerfeld, away from the contemporary or futuristic books he's already written. That's something I like about Westerfeld's books and series - the fact that they're all different from each other.

So - how does Leviathan stack up to his other work? I've read So Yesterday, Uglies, and the first Midnighters so can't compare it to everything he's written. But I think it holds up well - I really liked it. I will admit that I'm already a fan of the Steampunk genre, so that might bias my opinion a bit. Just a bit. And I'm becoming more and more fond of alternate history tales as well - which of course could bias me a bit further.

The premise of the story - the leadup to WWI - is accurate to some degree but this of course is where Westerfeld tweaks history and runs with it. The Austrio-German side are the "Clankers" - reliant on metal, engines, and machinery, including walkers with varying numbers of legs and big guns. The British allies are referred to as "Darwinists" and have developed their vehicles and weaponry through the combination of biological creatures. Each force is formidable in its own right.

The main characters are believable and decently fleshed out, and I found them likeable. Alex, the Austrian prince who has been forced to flee after the assassination of his parents, has a few appropriately snotty royal moments but also learns from his mistakes and has compassion. Deryn, the young Scottish girl masquerading as a boy so that she can become a soldier and fly on the airships, is tenacious and spunky.

The tale is full of action from the beginning. There are chases, battles, and plenty of close calls for Alex and Deryn as their paths draw closer and closer together. By the end of it, I was grumbling that now I'm going to have to wait who knows how long for the next book!

Who should you recommend this book to? I think there will be a certain number of Westerfeld fans that will read it just because it's him, though it's possible not all of them will like this departure into the past. Teens who enjoyed Kenneth Oppel's Airborn series or Philip Reeve's Hungry City Chronicles will be certain to enjoy Leviathan. I would not hesitate to recommend it to both boys and girls, but overall I think the book may appeala bit more to boys.

Looks like I only need to wait a year for the next installment... better get going on those Mock Printz books!

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