SUMMARY Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld and illustrated by Keith Thompson is the first book in a trilogy and is set in an alternate 1914 and told from two perspectives. One is His Serene Highness, Prince Aleksander of Hohenburg, who is the son of Archduke Ferdinand and Princess Sophie. The other is a Scottish girl named Deryn, who masquerades as a male named Dylan to be able to go on an airship. This alternate 1914 is at a time when war is brewing. There are two major sets of people. They are the “Clankers” and the “Darwinists”. The Darwinists fabricate animals that bring mythology to life and create giant airships out of the “life threads” of different beasts. The Clankers are the complete opposite. They fear the Darwinists and what they call, their “Godless creatures”. They rely on big machines, metal and such. Alek is on the side of the Clankers and Deryn is a supporter of fabricated beasts. Two completely different people whose stories don’t seem like they would ever connect. However, when tragedy befalls Alek and a nervous beast is connected to Deryn, they end up meeting each other. Alek is on the run with his machine master, Klopp, and his fencing master, Count Volger. Deryn was on a runaway airbeast when she was rescued by the legendary airship, the Leviathan, and brought aboard, and almost accidentally becomes part of the crew. They both end up Switzerland when Alek goes to help the injured crew of the Leviathan after an attack. He goes without informing Volger of this. When Deryn and Alek meet, they initially don’t like trust each other, but as each are introduced to each other’s world, they realize there is more to each other then they thought.
REVIEW Leviathan is one of my favorite books. The changing of perspectives is put nicely together so that it doesn’t confuse the reader. The way the author created an entire world with opposing sides was done very nicely, and he explained the different machines and beasts used. There are also illustrations every so often, of action scenes, or the different things used by each side. Also, there is suspense that makes you want to read the rest of the series. The author creates a good back-story on both of the characters as well, and what secrets they both have to hide. Basically just the overall characterization given to both Deryn and Alek is very good. Instead of being boring or shallow, they both feel very real. This is a good book for people who like a little bit of steampunk, some action and alternate histories.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Recommendations: Revel by Maurissa Guibord, Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott, Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Leviathan is set during pre-World War I era in which Austria-Hungary and Serbia were first to go to war with one another. Austria-Hungary and Germany (allies) are machine-based (machine walkers, airplanes, guns, etc.), whereas Serbia and England (almost allies) are fabricated-animals based (turning/fabricating animals into war-machines). Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie Chotek are assassinated in Sarajevo, causing the war to arise. 15-year-old Alek, their son and heir to the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, goes into hiding with his fencing instructor, Count Volger, and his mechaniks master, Otto Klopp, at a small castle in a glacier. There they find a crashed leviathan – a fabricated hydrogen filled whale – and the crew that are trying to put it back together and get going to the Ottoman Empire.
Deryn, a 15-year-old English girl, goes into the army posed as a boy soldier named Dylan Sharp. She eventually finds herself on the leviathan, still posing as a boy soldier, and it crashes into a glacier. Deryn and Alex’s paths cross and along their one big adventure, they learn to trust one another even if their countries do not.
Evaluation: This book I thought was very well written and the development of the characters was well done. I like how Alek builds up his feelings about his parent’s death to stay strong, even though most of the people around him don’t know who he is. Deryn was torn between being the person her mom wants her to be or a soldier fighting for her country. It didn’t have really much to do with gender and I liked that the Westerfeld showed that through her. On top of the development of the characters, there was an action-filled story of a machine vs. animal war. This is the first historical fiction book I’ve ever really enjoyed and now I am interested in reading Westerfeld’s Uglies series.
Rating: 4.5 stars
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