Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On Steampunk: Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan

Today's post will be a review of the first book in Scott Westerfeld's YA steampunk Leviathan series.

Book One: Leviathan (released October 2009)

This isn't so much a review as it is a mash note. I loved this book. The world Westerfeld has created is an alternative-early 20th century as the European powers are moving toward WWI. The alternative part? The world is divided into proponents of evolutionary tinkering (Darwinists) and proponents of steam-powered mechanization (Clankers). The Brits and their allies are Darwinists, and the Austro-Hungarian/Germans are Clankers.

Deryn is a fifteen year old girl who disguises herself as a boy so that she can join the British Air Service, which uses great Beasties resembling squid filled with hydrogen. She loves to fly, and she has to protect her secret at all costs, or she risks being stuck forever on the ground.

Alek is the son of the murdered Archduke, on the run from his own people and the Germans with only a few loyal men to help him run his mechanical Stormwalker (which looks a bit like ED-209 from Robocop) to the safety of the Swiss border.

The characters are believable and the story is engaging--Alek and Deryn are thrown together and have to learn to trust each other despite being on opposing sides of the coming War. Keith Thompson's illustrations are fantastic (in all senses of the word) and a welcome addition to the text.

I loved the book, and I devoured it in two sittings.  Highly recommended, especially if you are a history or science buff. Westerfeld has done his homework, and his creations (both Clanker and Beastie) are believable. I found myself wishing I could get a ride on the Leviathan myself.

Next review: Book Two: Behemoth (released October 2010) 

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