11 October 2010

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

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.
  • So sure, it can be a kid's book, too.  But as we all know, Harry Potter was published for children and look how many people love it.  (Lifetime lover of the HP series, right here.  Read HP1 when I was a wee little girlie at five-years-old.  Just in case you were wondering...)  So this book doesn't contain all the nitty-gritty, teenage dramatic rabble we get so much in YA fiction today.  Instead....
  • It's a wonderfully refreshing journey.  I very much enjoyed how it wasn't centered around a romance or a couple or the "normal" setup.  It's set up at the beginning of World War I--1913--and it was rich in detail and atmosphere.  For a while, I've felt the beginning signs of a history lover in me.  I don't know of many books that are set in the World War time periods and are written specifically for young adults.  I consider this a jewel for inspiring children--making them interested in their history.
  • It was a fascinating mix of future and past.  And I do believe that is what Scott Westerfeld describes as the "steampunk" genre.  I haven't been very impressed with the few steampunk novels I've read but this one was brilliant.  This wasn't something that Mr. Westerfeld came up with on a whim.  He put some real effort into this--doing his research and getting it right.  I can't even begin to wonder how he came up with half the creatures in this book.
  • Some say "slow".  Of the reviews I've read of "Leviathan," they say that it was slow--not a lot of action.  As I read, I couldn't help but think, "Ooooh, they meant that kind of action."  Like I said, this was written to be appropriate for middle grade kids while being interesting and complex enough for older teens.  So, no.  It won't have hot and heavy sex scenes.  But there was plenty of action-action.  Like the kind you see in war films.  Getting chased by a huge metal spider-like thing while on the run for being the son of a murdered archduke?  Getting caught in the middle of a storm strapped to the belly of a giant flying jellyfish?  Getting stranded on a glacier in the mountains, waiting for your giant, hydrogen-making, living ship to re-inflate itself?  And they say "no action"?  Oy.
  • I loved the characters.  Deryn was so flipping awesome!  Maybe an overuse of the British slang but still, awesome all the same.  A very strong heroine. :)  And Alek wasn't too bad either.  They were both so sharp and both had their own unique voice. (The chapters alternated between the two.)  Sometimes I had a hard time keeping Alek's crew straight but it became clearer as I continued to read.
  • Thrilling plot.  Talk about a cliffhanger!  Grr!  (But I can't say anymore--gotta keep to the Spoiler Free policy, after all.)
  • Shew!  The illustrations?  Okay, talk about talented.  Personally, I LOVE young adult books that have illustrations in them.  (The "Leven Thumps" series by Obert Skye is the only other series I know that is middle grade/young adult that has illustrations in it.)  The illustrations provided the perfect visual aid I needed...it gave the extra spunk to the imagination.
  • Definitely a favorite.  I can't wait to head to Scott Westerfeld's appearance in Raleigh on the 22nd.  I want to ask him so many questions!  And I can't wait to read "Behemoth" (which released on October 5th, by the way.)  On the 22nd, I will be the proud owner of a signed copy of "Leviathan" and "Behemoth" by Scott Westerfeld.  Oo-rah!
Book Info:
  • pages - hardcover, 440
  • published - October 2009
  • publisher - Simon Pulse
  • genre - steampunk/historical fiction
  • sequel - "Behemoth" (published October 5th)
  • series - Leviathan series #1