Under suspicion on the British Leviathan, Austro-Hungarian prince Alek must find a way out before Britain's war with Austria-Hungary affects his position on the ship. Deryn, still pretending to be a boy, is assigned a secret mission upon the ship's arrival in Istanbul when it becomes clear the Germans have beaten them to the sultan. As Alek and Deryn try to keep themselves and their people safe, they find themselves as enmeshed in local unrest as they are in global war.
Behemoth was a very good followup to Leviathan. While there were times when I found it a bit slow, there was plenty of excitement as well. I particularly enjoyed the setting of Istanbul, since I don't know much about the city myself. Deryn and Alek's involvement in the alternate-history revolution, while not quite as moving as it might have been, was still interesting.
It's getting a little absurd that Alek doesn't realize Deryn is a girl. I understand Westerfeld wants to draw out the tension as long as possible, but various circumstances have done everything but throw it in his face. It's getting a little old. However, it didn't detract from the story too much, so I'll just hope it gets resolved quickly in book 3.
Having Alek and Deryn involved in an apparently democratic revolution could have been amazing, particularly in Alek the prince's case. Unfortunately, their participation was portrayed as more a choice driven by necessity than any kind of ethical support. It would have been wonderful to see something along the lines of Lilit and Nene winning Alek over with their ideals, over his resistance, but that didn't really happen here.
Even so, Behemoth was plenty enjoyable. Westerfeld does a great job keeping the pace of the story high. The perspicacious loris was a cute if unclear addition to the cast - hopefully its purpose will be revealed in the near future. I'll be starting Goliath next, so expect a review for the conclusion of the series soon!
Plot: 3 cupcakes
Characters: 4 cupcakes
Style: 3 cupcakes
Overall: 3 cupcakes
If you liked Behemoth, try:
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials #1)
His Majesty's Dragon by Naomi Novik (Temeraire #1)
Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey (Elemental Masters #4)