Saturday, December 22, 2012

Review: Leviathan

Scott Westerfeld
fantasy/historical fiction

It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. The Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.
Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men. Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl 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 the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's 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.

Why oh why have I not read this book until now?? It's been around for awhile and I've heard sooo much about it and I absolutely LOVE Scott Westerfeld so I really don't know. All I can say is, I'm glad I finally did.

The plot, the characters, the pacing and the points of view were all done flawlessly. I was reading this on a school and dance day so I couldn't just sit and read for hours straight but believe me, I wanted to. It was one of those books that you can't let go of, and if you have to it calls your name all day and you're like 'I'm coming, I'm coming!'

In the beginning, it may be a little hard to understand. Even if you have some basic background in World War I, some of the facts are changed so it may confuse you. Not to worry though. After the first few chapters you'll swing right in.

As for the story...

(Just so you know, Leviathan takes place in an ALTERNATE World War I. The advanced technology and biological knowledge didn't exist at the time, and frankly that kind of DNA grafting still doesn't) Alek is an heir shunned by the throne for his mother's less-than-royal heritage and now on the run for fear of his life. He fights with 'Clankers'. Deryn is a girl who dreams to fly and joins the British Air Force as a boy to accomplish this. She fights in "Beasties". While obviously I'm rooting for the allies in terms of their actions and what they stand for (let's all assume for a moment we don't know the outcome of this war), I had to agree with Alek about the moral ethics of the beasties. It seems wrong to take innocent, living animals and graft them with others to create mutants that can be attached to engines and used for war.. kinda chilling and unnatural. Although you should take a stand on this after reading the book because I might not be explaining this properly.

The book is obviously meant to be the first in a series as no major plot point are resolved, rather, it introduces us to the characters (and their many problems), the world, and brings us to the (quite funny) circumstances in which Deryn and Alek meet (I smell romance next book!). But that's not to say it lacks in action. It is full of terrifying fighting scenes and lots of tension and suspense. The first thing you'll do after reading Leviathan is try to get your hands on Behemoth! My grade: 100 PERCENT !!

P.S. So how did everyone survive the end of the world? :)

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