Let me say right away, I'm a big fan of Scott Westerfeld. I adored the Uglies series and the Midnighters books and was really looking forward to this new series which begins with Leviathan. I'd never heard of the term 'steampunk' before - it seems it's the combination of Victorian era and science-fiction technologies and advancements. Is it just me or is that just sounds absolutely exciting? And Leviathan entirely lived up to my expectations! It's fast-paced and adventurous with fun characters with a twist on historical events.
Leviathan is set in an alternate universe on the eve of the First World War. Europe is divided into two groups - the Clankers, who rely on advanced machinery, and the Darwinists, who have evolved animals to become weapons and transportation. After the assassination of the Archduke of the Austro-Hungarian empire, his son, Prince Alek must flee from his own people in order to survive. Together with a large Stormwalker and a small group of loyal men, he heads out to find neutral ground. Meanwhile, in Darwinist England, Deryn, is trying to pass as a boy to become an Airman in the British air service. She accidentally finds herself on the crew of the Leviathan, a huge air ship made up of lots of living organisms, the largest of which is a whale. Prince Alek and Deryn's world collide and we're off on a rollercoaster journey...
Oh, how much did I love this book? I love the detail of the Darwinists animals, I loved the characters. I love it when characters hide their true gender in books, I really do. Both Alek and Deryn are such wonderful and sympathetic characters. They're from very different backrounds and obviously different outlooks between Clanker and Darwinist. The two don't actually meet until later in the book than I expected, but it doesn't matter because so much is going on, it seems as though action is packed into every page. Deryn is a wonderful character. Strong, brave, and down-to-earth. She's quite funny too. It doesn't matter that she's a girl, she's a wonderful airman. And Alek, though slightly spoilt, is finding his feet. He's struggling with the death of his parents and the responsibilities that are now thrust upon him. In the sequels I'd love to see more development of these characters and to see more of romance that is only hinted at in this first book.
What a fun book to have read! And the illustrations by Keith Thompson are amazing! I couldn't take my eyes off of some of them. It really added to my enjoyment of the book. Also, check out the book trailer. I highly recommend Leviathan and am waiting in anticipation for the sequels!
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