Saturday, October 29, 2011

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Scott Westerfeld
Leviathan #1

From Goodreads: Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men. 

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

Since I haven't really been a fan of any of the other steampunk novels I've read, I was surprised at how much I liked this one. Leviathan is a fun, alternative-history exploration of the beginning of World War I, with an interesting mixture of fact and fiction. In the world according to Westerfeld, the Central Powers, known in Leviathan as Clankers, use machines to support their rule, while the Allies, called the Darwinists, have mastered the art of genetic manipulation to create living weapons and means of transportation. Basically it makes for a fascinating if slightly creepy backdrop to Deryn and Alek's tales.

The idea of lost or hidden royalty is pretty much always a good story, and Alek is no exception. He actually shows some good development, changing from a spoiled princeling to an intelligent and compassionate leader during the course of the book. Westerfeld chose another classic device for Deryn, who pretends to be a boy so she can join the British air force. Both of these stories, while not new in any sense, are generally fun to read, and Leviathan is no exception.

Leviathan left enough questions unanswered that, while it didn't end in a cliffhanger, I went straight to the library website to request the next two anyway. I really enjoyed this book, although because of the style and other elements I'd classify it more as children's literature than YA. However, I definitely wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book if you're looking for a fun read.

Plot: 3 cupcakes
Characters: 4 cupcakes
Style: 4 cupcakes
Overall: 4 cupcakes

If you liked Leviathan, 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)

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