Scott Westerfeld’s entertaining “Leviathan” series pays tribute to the spirit of the “boys’ paperback adventure stories” of yesteryear, while updating a few of their conventions for the 21st century. The most obvious makeover is that we get a girl protagonist who’s disguised as a boy -- for the moment, anyway -- but proves herself as capable under pressure as any young male hero. And why not? While Westerfeld’s imaginative World War One-era steampunk alternate reality isn’t too sophisticated, it’s still a lot smarter than its old serialized forebears. The story dodges the most predictable tropes, and quietly works in some real world themes and the message that politics aren’t always simple.
Goliath is the final book in the trilogy, and I think that fans will find it a satisfying conclusion. A few new characters are introduced in the globe-circling adventure, a few previous ones make a reappearance, and we get a taste of countries outside the Clanker/Darwinist camps (or a bit in both). There are thrills, scrapes, falling-outs between the two heroes (temporary, of course), humor, an action-packed finale, closure for plot threads both political and personal, and a hint at the possibility of further adventures.
Unfortunately, I missed out on the print editions and Keith Thompson’s artwork, but the audio version has its own pleasures. The narrator’s store of international accents brings the mannerisms and catch-phrases of the characters to colorful life.
All in all, a fun, imaginative YA series, and a good option for readers (or parents) looking for something a little less dour than the Hunger Games.