Michelle's Reviews > Behemoth

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
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May 27, 12

bookshelves: alternative-history, young-adult, steam-punk, sci-fi-or-futuristic, books-i-own, favorites
Read from May 13 to 14, 2012


Review originally posted here.

Why I Read It: A loveeddd the first volume in the trilogy, Leviathan. Instead of letting the series sit unfinished until I could buy them though, I decided to sign out the remaining two books in the trilogy PRONTO and get them read sooner rather than later.

I think one of my favourite things about this series, and is made more clear in this volume, is that while Deryn and Alek are obviously intrinsically linked and will obviously end up together, they still do their own thing. The alternative POV isn't to give readers different perspectives on the same events (though it does do that as well), but to actually show us DIFFERENT stuff that is happening because these two aren't attached at the hip. I've seen too many YAs with alternating boy-girl POVs that have the two characters together pretty much all the time so the alternating POVs provides little else besides demonstrating how the two leads are falling for each other. Deryn IS definitely falling for Alek in this book, but it's not the reason for the alternating POVs.

The plot in this second volume of the series is definitely more fast paced and continues the forward momentum picked up at the end of the first book. We get to watch Alek really come into his own here, as he finally finds a way to help in the best way he thinks he can in order to help stop the war: by joining the revolution that wants to throw the sultan from the throne of the Ottoman Empire. Deryn still takes the spotlight of course -- she's much more pro-active than Alek -- but watching him be in the thick of things and doing things other than running away was quite nice.

The world-building continues to be impressive and is expanded in this volume with the crew visiting Istanbul. I loved that the city was half-Darwinist and half-Clanker. The contraptions that were a mix of both technologies (such as the giant mechanical elephants) were super cool and I appreciated that it wasn't the ENTIRE WORLD that was divided into either Clanker or Darwinism -- it makes sense that some countries would adopt both.

The story held within this volume is a very self-contained volume (though I don't recommend reading it before reading Leviathan) so you won't find any cliff-hangers here, but it's obvious there's more story to tell. I still appreciated what Westerfeld did here though because it prevented the story from being plagued with Second Book Syndrome, which dictates that second books in series/trilogies/whatever tend to drag as it all builds up to a grand finale. That's definitely not the case here. :)

I loved how Deryn's crush on Alek was handled; it's not at the forefront of things because she's got more serious things to worry about, but it still figures into her decisions (such as deciding to look for him in Istanbul instead of getting back on the Leviathan). And I like that she admits that thinking of him makes her act silly, because really, that's what love/crushes/whatever does to people, and she willingly admits it instead of dressing the whole thing up as TRU LUUVV. Oh, and her jealousy over Lilit made me tut a little, but Westerfeld throws in a (fairly predictable) reversal that had me giggling (regardless of predictability.)

Final Verdict: This was an awesome second volume to this wonderful trilogy. The story is self-contained, so there's no fear of cliff-hangers, and the story is wonderfully fast-paced (as opposed to the first volume which was a little slow to start). The world-building continues to enthrall me, and Westerfeld's world is even further fleshed out in this volume. Alek's character really comes into his own here, though I still unsurprisingly prefer Deryn.
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