This was an excellent book that lived up to its intriguing title. I get a bit tired of books whose titles have very little to do with their subject maThis was an excellent book that lived up to its intriguing title. I get a bit tired of books whose titles have very little to do with their subject matter. However Hoot is, as promised, a book about owls. It's a very lucidly written and absorbing story, entertaining for both young adults and their mature counterparts. ...more
This was an amusing, quick read. Full of very dry, ironic British humor, which I love. It's written from the viewpoint of a teenage girl who occasionaThis was an amusing, quick read. Full of very dry, ironic British humor, which I love. It's written from the viewpoint of a teenage girl who occasionally doesn't see how funny she's being.
Appropriate for young teens. There is very little profanity, but some discussion of sex and sexuality and a few very mildly sexual situations. ...more
I liked Leviathanmuch better than I liked Westerfield's Pretties/Uglies. Possibly because I liked (or could stand) the protagonists Alek and Deryn muI liked Leviathanmuch better than I liked Westerfield's Pretties/Uglies. Possibly because I liked (or could stand) the protagonists Alek and Deryn much more than I ever liked Tally. This book has good pacing, decent dialog, and a very good plot.
The part I struggled with is that I'm not sure he has a very good grounding in biology or physics. There are some authors who can blithely and believably write about technology they don't understand. However, Westerfeld is no Anthony Burgess, nor is he (sadly) a Neal Stephenson. He obviously tried, so I owe him credit for that. Possibly it's only because my background is in biology and I've had to endure rants and screeds about how anything so large as a dragon couldn't possibly fly. Or maybe the main problem is my lack of grounding in physics. Maybe you could inflate a whale body full enough of hydrogen that it floats. (Query: Why hydrogen and not helium? Has the Hindenburg not happened?) For the biology side of things, I'm very dubious that you could genetically engineer creatures like those in this book only knowing enough about DNA to call it "life strands" and not know about genes and base pairs. But perhaps I'm not giving the Steampunk Victorians enough credit. (Or maybe it did take years and years and years and that just wasn't emphasized. Though it can't have taken that long if Darwin's granddaughter is still a fairly young woman).
However, leaving the science aside, this was a very engaging steampunk novel. The divisions and differences between the Clankers and the Darwinists are interesting and engaging. The characters are fairly well drawn and believable. (I loved Deryn's pride in her satisfyingly clompy boots). Though both protagonists seemed younger than their supposed age. Deryn and Alek act (and seem to think) closer to 12 or 13 than 15 or 16. At times the book veered a little too close to Afterschool-Special-Zone (maybe the best solution is a mix of our two extreme views instead of one or the other being right!) But even that was over very quickly. Very fast-paced, interesting, and thought-provoking. I was particularly interested in the intimations that the Leviathan was sentient, as the main thing that bothered me about the Darwinist creations was the mixing of creatures with completely different life history strategies. It seems to me that in anything approaching a sentient creature, this would cause confusion.
I thoroughly enjoyed the illustrations, and very much appreciated Westerfeld taking time at the end to spell out where it differed from reality; I think that's a great way to get teens interested in history.
I'm looking forward to the next one. I can't wait to find out hatches out of the eggs. I'm hoping for dinosaurs....more
Before I started reading this book, I reminded myself not to expect too much. It is the middle book of a trilogy after all, usually I find the weakestBefore I started reading this book, I reminded myself not to expect too much. It is the middle book of a trilogy after all, usually I find the weakest of any given set of three. There may be some interminable setting up for the third book, and there's every possibility it will end on an intolerable cliff-hanger. I find this is just good practice for a second-of-three, especially after how much I enjoyed the first book in this trilogy, Leviathan.
Fortunately, this little pep talk was entirely unwarranted. Other than the cover (which isn't nearly as cool as the cover of Leviathan), it entirely lives up to its predecessor. I was entirely prepared for Alek to uncover Deryn's secret in the first third, and for them to spend a large chunk of the rest of the book not speaking to each other. I wasn't looking forward to it.
However, magnificently, Westerfeld spared me that fate. Instead, he delivered a satisfying, fast-paced adventure novel. He keeps up the pace and the expectations of the first book, and delivers solid further development, solves some puzzles and opens up some new ones. He introduces a delightful new character, and watching Alek, Deryn, and Lilit interact was a joy. The characters are well-done, the action is well-written and fits well into the framework of story. Actions are rational and have logical reactions. It's all just darn fun to read.
My few quibbles from the first book remain, though they bothered me less in this book. Alek is still a bit thick-headed, both he and Deryn still act a bit younger than their stated years, and I'm going to take a lot more convincing to believe that Victorian scientists could hatch a primate out of an egg, but the rest of it I'm completely prepared to swallow.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys straight-up swashbuckling, alternate histories, steampunk, or engaging young characters. I can't wait to read the third one.
These are such wonderful, fun romps of novels. I wish this one didn't have to be the last because I would love to spend more time in Deryn and Alex'sThese are such wonderful, fun romps of novels. I wish this one didn't have to be the last because I would love to spend more time in Deryn and Alex's world. The only bit I wasn't crazy in love with was the portrayal of poor Tesla. ...more
I picked up this book because I fell in love with The Lover's Dictionary and wanted to read more. I also recalled this being a movie everyone was exciI picked up this book because I fell in love with The Lover's Dictionary and wanted to read more. I also recalled this being a movie everyone was excited about, so it seemed like a good place to start. About five pages into it I nearly stopped, exhausted by the uber-self-consciousness of the tone, the clear and awkward striving to seem hip, flip, and effortlessly awesome.
But then I thought about it a little harder. This is narrated by two teens, who are struggling with: deciding their futures; figuring out love, friendship, loyalty, romance, and sex; discovering their identities; and trying to maintain their determined place in the social sphere; all at the same time. If the tone is supposed to be like reading their diary (or being inside their head) then it did exactly what it was supposed to do.
That didn't always make it fun to read. But the two characters were interesting enough to make up for it. I read this quickly, so I'm not sure how well they would have sustained over a longer read, but I enjoyed the book. It was light, fluffy, entertaining and made me think about maturity, growing up, relationships, romance, and life in ways I wouldn't necessarily have come up with on my own. In that way, it did its job perfectly. ...more