Esti's Reviews > Leviathan

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
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Nov 21, 11

bookshelves: children-ya-media-class
Read from October 21 to 24, 2011

This might be the book that redefined steampunk. Prince Aleksander, son of the murdered Franz Ferdinand of Austria, is on the run, dragged from his bed by a few loyal protectors after his parents' deaths. Deryn Sharp has disguised herself as a boy to enlist in the British airforce, just so she can fly again. As their world works, Alek and Deryn are on opposite sides, one royalty of a machine-oriented culture referred to as Clankers, the other a commoner from a Darwinist society that builds technology out of living creatures.

Westerfeld reimagines the era of the First World War in spectacular detail, crafting overarching cultural ideologies that inform the political machinations of the opposing powers, and launches his underage heroes--the inevitable focus of good young adult fiction--into the mess in a completely believable way. There's very little that's stylized about this version of steampunk, and the world is so well-imagined that the bizarre technologies employed by both sides fit in seamlessly. Though he takes liberties with history (all of which are explained in the afterword), Leviathan is as good a historical fiction read as it is science fiction. Highly recommended for ages 12 and up, will appeal to adults as well as to young readers.

Tags: steampunk, adventure story, science fiction, historical fiction, machine warfare, military service, flight, hidden identities, young adult, teens
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