Saturday, October 1, 2011

Review: Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

 Title: Leviathan
Scott Westerfeld
Genre: YA Steampunk alternate history
Publishing Information: 440 pages; September 22nd, 2009 by Simon Pulse
Series: Leviathan #1, followed by Behemoth and Goliath

Where I got it:
Borders liquidation sale

One sentence:
In this alternative history of World War I, the lives of Prince Aleksander of Austria-Hungary, on the run from his own country, and Deryn Sharp, a common girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service, become intertwined.

Alternate history, World War I, steampunk, girl in disguise, illustrated, war

Main characters:
I wasn’t sure about the characters at first. While I know they are young, these protagonists came off slightly immature. However, as the novel progressed, both matured into their changing circumstances and developed into likeable characters. How refreshing too that there was no hint of romance during the first book! And I absolutely adored Deryn and Aleksander’s first meeting. Both characters had clear and unique voices that rang clear in the alternating point of views.

Secondary characters:
Unfortunately, none of the secondary characters really jumped out at me. The crew members aboard the Leviathan seemed to jumble together, and Aleksander’s supporters were the same. The only secondary character who intrigued me was Dr. Barrow, whose mysterious ways and aims fascinated me and made me inordinately curious: how did she come about her companion? How did she get the items she brought upon Leviathan?

Writing style: 3.5/5
I LOVE pictures in books. Isn’t it nice when you’re in the middle of a big block of words and bam! there’s a random picture? That’s how I felt about the illustrations in Leviathan- right when I was confused what this massive airship looked like, or how these Stormwalkers worked, I turned the page and there was a picture. The only thing was I didn’t feel like the cute pictures matched the slightly more intense writing and plot. Westerfeld was adept at switching the focus from Deryn to Aleksander and back again while keeping the plot moving, however, I did feel that most of the book was exposition and I wished that it accelerated more quickly.

This is the first alternate history and first steam-punk I think I’ve ever read. I wasn’t sure about the genre until I actually sat down and read it: I was blown away! I absolutely adore history, so the different take on World War I was fascinating, particularly the conflict between the British Darwinists, who create fabricated beasts, and the German Clankers, who attack with steam-powered war machines. I loved the combination of this alternate history with the ‘steampunk’ aspect. Further, the plot itself was entertaining and full of action, although slightly predictable.

Ending: 2/5
Hmmmph. Another series book that ends with more questions than it begins with, and with none of the conflict solved.

Best scene:
Deryn’s first experience with the British Air Service.

Realistic and unique main characters, writing style, fascinating plot

Negatives: Slow introduction, slightly more childish than I would have liked, boring secondary characters

First Line: The Austrian horses glinted in the moonlight, their riders standing tall in the saddle, swords raised.

Cover: I wasn’t a very big fan. It doesn’t look like the kind of thing I would normally read and it didn’t draw me in.

A fascinating book in a new genre for me. The premise was intriguing, and although the book had a few slipups, it was entertaining.

6.0 / 10

1 comment :

  1. Did you end up finishing this series? It wasn't mindblowing and fangirling for me, but it was an enjoyable read. And I loved the concept of Darwinism vs. steam punk - that was by far my favourite part of the whole series (followed by the WWI setting, so clearly the story played second fiddle to the concept for me)