Rebecca's Reviews > Leviathan

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
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's review
Dec 18, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: adventure, historical, science-fiction, young-adult
Read in December, 2009

I'm a fan of steampunk and I loved Westerfeld's Midnighters series, so I was excited when this came out and got such great reviews. It's set right at the start of WWI, in an alternate universe in which Germany and its allies are called 'Clankers' because they rely on machines akin to steampunk versions of the walkers in Star Wars movies. Britain and its allies are 'Darwinists' because they rely on fabricated creatures based on Charles' Darwin's manipulations of DNA. Leviathan is a living airship, for example.

The two main characters are the British girl Deryn, and the Austrian boy Alek. Deryn has disguised herself as a boy so she can be a midshipman in the Air Service and accidentally (long story) became a crewmember on Leviathan. Alek is the only son of Franz Ferdinand, and it was his existence that, in part, caused the war. He's managed to escape Austria with the help of a few loyal followers.

I liked this book a whole lot, particularly the pictures; it was often hard to imagine Westerfeld's creations without them. I'm not entirely sure I buy the Darwinist creatures, though--maybe a little too much suspension of disbelief required. I also think there are massive ethical questions about the fabricated creatures that don't even get a mention, and I don't know if it was Westerfeld's intention to leave them in the mind of the reader, or if he didn't see it as an issue.

An exciting read, though!
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