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Leviathan #1


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Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

448 pages, Hardcover

First published October 6, 2009

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About the author

Scott Westerfeld

118 books19.9k followers
Scott Westerfeld is a New York Times bestselling author of YA. He is best known for the Uglies and Leviathan series. His current series, IMPOSTORS, returns to the world of Uglies.

The next book in that series, MIRROR'S EDGE, comes out April 6, 2021.

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5 stars
31,080 (34%)
4 stars
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3 stars
18,928 (20%)
2 stars
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1 star
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 7,275 reviews
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,399 reviews11.7k followers
February 3, 2010
Like many of my friends, I've been looking forward to getting my hands on "Leviathan" for a while. It is so sad that after such a long wait I can't give this book more than 2 stars. And if I am being honest, I added second star for fabulous cover art and excellent illustrations (1 or 2 per chapter!). My low rating doesn't mean however that I would recommend NOT to read this book. I simply didn't care for it personally, for several reasons.

First, this book seems to be mistakenly classified as young adult fiction. To me it read more like a children's book, middle school maximum. For a book about 15-16 year olds, Daryn and Alek are written awfully young. By the way their thought process, their behavior and motivations are portrayed, you'd think they are 11-12 years old, they are even drawn by the illustrator as pre-teens. I can enjoy some books written for this age group, such as first 2 Harry Potter books or "His Dark Materials," but the world of "Leviathan" just didn't hold my attention.

Secondly, the book is extremely heavy on descriptions of various machinery and fabricated animals and battles between them. I know, this is the core of the book - a war between Clankers and Darwinists - but I hoped this concept would be presented in a more interesting manner. Just reading about how the zeppelins are constructed or how to operate an airship made out of a combination of creatures bored me to death.

And lastly, for a book that is supposed to offer an "alternative history," the "alternativeness" is very thin and doesn't go beyond war machinery. The rest is pretty much taken from real history - we are not offered anything new in terms of government structure, social order, belief system, etc. It is possible however that Westerfeld will explore these avenues in later books in the series.

I wouldn't discourage anyone from giving this book a shot. But if you are like me and prefer books for older teens, have no interest in mechanics and war battles, like to have a little bit of teen romance in your stories, you can safely skip this book.
Profile Image for Rick Riordan.
Author 492 books402k followers
November 8, 2013
I really enjoyed Westerfeld’s Uglies, so I was excited to read this new book, set in an alternate reality. It’s the dawn of World War I, and war is about to erupt between two great powers – the Clankers (Germany & Austro-Hungary) and the Darwinists (England, France, Russia). The Clankers are technologists with walking tanks (a la Star Wars), zeppelins and airplanes, while the Darwinists have discovered ways to manipulate DNA and create biological hybrids like floating whale ships, lizards that relay messages in English, jellyfish hot air balloons, and elephantine beasts of burden. Westerfeld’s world is beautifully realized and totally convincing. Lots of action, and two great main characters who have dangerous secrets. The whole time I was reading it, I was thinking, ‘This needs to be an online role-playing game.’ The possibilities are endless. I’ll be looking forward to the next book in this series. Check it out!
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 3 books248k followers
December 15, 2020
"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change." Charles Darwin

The world of Leviathan set in 1914 is divided into Darwinists and Clankers. The Darwinists have evolved genetics to make animals more useful to humans. The Clankers have built their society on machinery technology. I love maps and Scott Westerfeld provided a great map to show how his imagined world has been divided up between the two camps of thought.


Prince Aleksandar Ferdinand awakes one night to find that his world has been turned upside. He had an uncertain future to begin with being the son of the heir to the Austria-Hungary throne; and yet, because his mother was of common blood the marriage was deemed a left-handed marriage which does not allow Alek to inherit his father's title.

Franz Ferdinand

His father and mother survive the initial assassination attempt that in our reality sparked World War One. In Westerfeld's world they survive only to be poisoned later that night at a dinner party. Alek is whisked away by men loyal to his father in a Stormwalker, a two legged war machine. Despite the fact that he has no legitimate claim to the throne the Germans are intent on neutralizing him. Emperor Franz Joseph is old and the Germans fear he will recognize Alek as his heir. They would prefer someone more likely to ally with their war aims. In the book A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888-1889Frederick Morton speculates that Rudolph's suicide (Franz Joseph's son) was actually an assassination by Germany fearing his anti-Germanic rhetoric. It makes sense, but suicide was in fashion in Vienna in the 1880s and there is very little evidence to support the theory, but that said given what is at stake I wouldn't be surprised that Germany had a hand in eliminating Rudolph. Germany has always played too large a role in Austrian politics. In Westerfeld's world instead of a young Bosnian being behind the assassination of Ferdinand the Germans are the originators of the coming conflict. Alek finds himself in a desperate race to reach the Swiss border before the German's can capture him.

Our other hero is Deryn Sharp. She has just joined the British air service. Because she is a girl, and girls are not allowed to join the military, she has disguised herself as a boy named Dylan. She is assigned to the Leviathan a living whale flying ship. Despite being in constant peril of discovery she shows bravery and intuitive cunning that makes her a valuable midshipman. Of course Deryn and Alek are on a collision course and their first meeting is less than ideal. Despite the fireworks and the misunderstandings they are quickly becoming friends.

Another real character masquerading in Westerfeld's world is Nora DARWIN Barlow who has become critical to the upcoming war effort as England needs more advances in genetics to have a chance against the Clanker armies of Germany. She is the granddaughter of Charles Darwin.

Nora Darwin Barlow

Miss Barlow's constant companion is a Tasmanian Tiger, an animal that creates nervous moments for those around her. Unfortunately in our reality the last Tasmanian Tiger died in captivity in 1936, a species that was a casualty of man versus nature. I liked Miss Barlow and hope she continues to be a key part of the plot in the subsequent books.

The book is littered with amazing line drawings that really adds to the experience of the book. I wish more adult books had illustrations. There are a plethora of amazing, starving artists in this country that could use the work. We are a visual culture and I don't believe it takes away any literary value to a book to be enhanced with an artist's conception of the writer's creation.


I will be reading book two Behemoth . Westerfeld left me hanging in the skies over Europe with our heroes on a secret mission to the Ottoman Empire, and the German's trying everything in their arsenal to bring them back to Earth.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,643 reviews5,092 followers
January 15, 2013
this is a zippy, high-spirited breeze of a novel, aimed at the lucrative TROPE(1) audience - and with clear appeal for even younger folks. as far as characterization and narrative go, there is not much here that will suprise or challenge the reader...but the novel does have charm, lots of it. don't expect to get your mind blown, but it is certainly a pleasant way to spend a few hours. and there are many enjoyable elements in the now-almost-played-out use of TROPE(2): big clanky walking-machines, living dirigibles and various flying machines or machine-beasts, the setting itself, and the enjoyable TROPE(3) of europe during the first world war - now rife with imaginative historical tweaks and simmering distrust between the machine-lovin' Clankers and the evolutionary mix-masters, the Darwinists.

the TROPE(4) is rather standard - a plucky, mouthy, resilient young TROPE(5) who TROPE(6) to have the adventures of a boy. nonetheless, despite the familiarity of the gender-bending, she is thoroughly enjoyable. the TROPE(7) is also rather standard - a prickly and often high-handed little TROPE(8), but also a TROPE(9) one too. both TROPE(10) are TROPE(11) on several occasions. their TROPE(12) is nicely played out through TROPE(13) and the inevitable TROPE(14) wait to rear their predictable little heads until very near the end, as the young miss starts feeling some sparks during a fervent bit of grateful hugging. it is actually adorable, and all the better for its lack during most of the novel. and there are also two adult characters who are fun (but, again, rather standard) - an eccentric zookeeper/scientist/envoy/ TROPE(15) and her probable TROPE(16), a sardonic and loyal austrian 'wildcount'.

the narrative is propulsive yet episodic. there is no standard TROPE(17) for the hero or heroine, although i suppose Alek's TROPE(18) to the austrian crown may eventually qualify...but so far, there is really nothing for him to quest after, as he spends most of his time hiding and running. for the time-being, the reader is immersed in action that comes breathless and willy-nilly, with little pause for reflection or rumination. i would have appreciated some more quiet times where the reader gets to live and breathe the characters' lives and the world's strangeness, but clearly the novel is geared more towards younger, shorter attention spans.

i love the steampunk subgenre. on that level, the novel succeeds. i may just be a sucker for reading about TROPE(19), about TROPE(20) (although obviously this novel is not set during the victorian era), about TROPE(21), about TROPE(22) in general.

the novel includes a bunch of pleasing black-and-white illustrations. they are wonderful. almost TROPE(23)-ific! minus the TROPE(24), of course.



1. Young Adult
2. steampunk
3. alterna-history
4. heroine
5. tomboy
6. disguises herself as a boy
7. hero
8. prince
9. sad and rather tragic
10. almost over-their-heads heroes
11. brave and quick-thinking and save the day
12. gradual coming-together
13. alternating pov chapters
14. romantic clichés
15. liberated lady
16. surprise love interest
17. Quest
18. legacy as the heir
19. futuristic yet strangely archaic technology
20. quasi-victorian explorations of sexual repression/gender imbalance
21. nifty new ways that evolution can be tweaked
22. anachronism
23. Edward Gorey
24. morbid child-killing
Profile Image for carol..
1,532 reviews7,856 followers
February 29, 2016
Alternate title: An Adventure in Which an Aristocratic Young Man Discovers How to Pilot an All-Terrain Walker and that he is Now an Orphan, and a Young Woman Disguises Herself as a Young Man and Joins the Navy to Pilot Flying Octopi and Whales.

I rarely read Young Adult, so it is a mark of Westerfeld’s credit that I didn’t abandon ship immediately. I picked it up as a monthly read, mistakenly assuming the group disqualified the genre from nominations. I know what you are thinking–why didn’t I quit? Well, Leviathan has been making reading lists for some time with solid ratings from my friends. And every now and then I do read some fantastic young adult. It isn’t the book’s fault, exactly–it’s mine.

“It felt odd fencing in farmer’s clothes, without servants standing ready to bring water and towels. Mice scrambled underfoot, and the giant Stormwalker watched over them like some iron god of war. Every few minutes Count Volger called a halt and stared up at the machine, as if hoping to find in its stoic silence the patience to endure Alek’s clumsy technique.”

It begins with Prince Aleksandar Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary headed to bed, musing on the battle he was enacting with his little tin soldiers. Before long, he’s awakened by his father’s trusted adviser on what he thinks is a nighttime training mission–piloting a land-walker in the dark. Try as I might, I could not stop visualizing the Star Wars edition, circa 1983:


Prince Alek is young, and makes all sorts of silly mistakes: thinking the advisers might be out to kidnap him, not believing his parents were killed and accidentally betraying his noble upbringing. It’s hard to be in disguise as a peasant! Apparently his situation is the byproduct of an attempt to incite a war. Meanwhile, Deryn Sharp is also discovering it is hard to live in disguise–in her case, as a boy. You have to swagger and hit people a lot, but she’s learning fast as she goes through training in the British Air Service. During her test flight, her balloon/octopus accidentally gets away and results in her being picked up by a mammoth–excuse me, whale–of a flying warship. She gets a place in the crew and manages to become part of an important diplomatic mission. Of course, the two worlds will collide. Oh, did I mention they are also the Romeo and Juliet of the European world, representing opposite sides in the conflict, who in turn represent opposite applications of technology?

“According to her aerology manual, the big hydrogen breathers were modeled on the tiny South American islands where Darwin had made his famous discoveries. The Leviathan wasn’t one beastie, but a vast web of life in ever shifting balance.”

The most engaging aspect of the tale was the cultural construct of how scientific thought was applied. In the English faction, science dove right into “Darwinism,” gene-splicing and biotech. Inventions are based upon biological creations operating in mechanical ways. Thus, the flying octopus balloons and the whale-based airships powered by renewable biomass. It’s extremely interesting and creative and was, without doubt, one of the reasons I kept reading.


Plotting felt solid. Relatively predictable, of course, given our YA heroes, but with a twist or turn along the way as to the structure of the conflict. I read the hardcover, which not only has a lovely jacket but a creative European-west Asian map on the faceplate. The illustrations by Keith Thompson are shown in perfect detail. I thought they added a great deal to the story, occasionally providing some imagery to hook the story on, and was glad I was reading paper. It wouldn’t have worked as well on my e-reader.

Writing style was excellent, and again, sign of Westerfeld’s skill, as far as I’m concerned. Deryn does speak in a heavy slang at times, to the point that Alek complains she is almost incomprehensible.

Confession time: not only to I not enjoy Young Adult as a genre, I really don’t enjoy modern human history. Part of it is the arbitrariness of the detail for me: Leader X of Y ate apples and bananas in 1935 and might have set off a world war when he accidentally tipped the farmer who lost his shirt in the milk shortage a gold coin. I just can’t remember that kind of arbitrary minutia; I’m much better with cardiovascular output, baroreceptors and red blood cells porting around oxygen to the outer perimeters. Westerfeld’s set up has to do with Leader Somebody So-and-So not being something or another in 19-Something-Something, only it went the Other Way in real life. I didn’t care when I tried to learn it in 1985, and I really don’t care now. But kudos to you, Westerfeld for making a pivotal historical event your story lynchpin. The other reason it is was never going to work for me: fighting. Events leading up to war. Young people discovering adult politics. Mounted scouts. Flying stuff shooting at other flying stuff. Land stuff shooting at flying stuff. Skirmishes. You know–tin soldiers.

Upshot? Hugely readable, well-written and illustrated book that almost completely misses my reading interests and manages to be entertaining anyways. If any of that appeals to you, I highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,919 reviews10.6k followers
September 23, 2015
The Archduke of Austria-Hungary and his wife are assassinated and their son, Alek, flees into the night with trusted advisors. Deryn Sharp disguises herself as a boy to gain a post on a Darwinist airship. With a Great War brewing, how will their paths intersect?

I had Leviathan on my kindle for so long I'd largely forgotten when I purchased it. Sometimes, you just want to read about giant steam-powered robots in the dawn of World War I.

Leviathan is a steampunk adventure tale set in the opening months of World War I in an alternate world where war is brewing between the Darwinists and the Clankers. Darwinists use genetically engineered war machines while Clankers use big honking human piloted robots. Sounds pretty good, right?

In a Young Adult sort of way, it's a fun tale. Will her comrades find out Deryn is a woman? Will the Germans find where Alek is hiding? Will we see brutal robot on robot action?

The worldbuilding in Leviathan was my favorite part. Who doesn't love giant robots and huge living airships? Setting it during World War I was a nice change of pace that avoided some of the usual steampunk tropes. I also liked that Alek and Deryn didn't instantly fall in love and neither of them was a Chosen One type of character.

The writing didn't wow me, however. It was pretty average and felt a little repetitive at times. My main gripe, while we're on the subject, is that not a lot actually happened. I'm aware that it was the first book in a trilogy but it was pretty unsatisfying on its own. It set up a lot of stuff for future installments but had very little meat to it on its own.

Three out of five stars. I'm still undecided whether or not I want to spend money on the other two, however.
Profile Image for Jo.
268 reviews946 followers
May 21, 2021
"A missing piece can be very bad for the puzzle, whether in the natural world, or politics, or here in the belly of an airship."

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
That’s what I want to know, Alek. That’s what I want to know.

High Points.
Deryn. Alek. This world… wooow, why doesn’t it exist yet?! Huxleys. Darwinists. Clankers. Flying wales. Cow farts. Trinkets&Diddies. Messenger lizards. Science. Nature. Snowshoes. Tazza. Dr Barlow. Frostbitten bums. Odd kind of tingling. The prospect of sequels…

Oh Alek, I think you’re going to end up getting overshadowed in this review which is completely unfair because you are brilliant too.
But… well… Derynissocool……*whines*
Sorry, Alek. I’m back with you, promise.
You have all this ridiculous stuff happening around you and you still have the time to be a Grade A sweetheart? I applaud you because if I was an Austro-Hungarian prince I would be whinging like nobody’s business.
I loved how he was innocent and naïve and a bit of wimp but he was determined to learn and break-free of people’s perceptions of him and his ancestors and all that shebang.
I’m really excited to see where Alek’s learning curve takes him.
Also, the banter between him and Deryn was hilarious.

“Listen, I’m not really supposed to be this far from home. I just happened to be out hiking when I saw your ship come down.”
“Out hiking?” Deryn said. “In all this barking snow? At night?
“Yes. I often hike on the glacier at night.”
“With medicine?”

And I can’t wait to see what happens when what I think will happen happens!

Hero. Heroine. Hero? Jo’s Best Friend.
I’ve only read one book but already Deryn is one of my favourite female heroines.
She can fashion a zipwire while dangling under a squid-thing! I’m going to start adding that to my necessary friend requirements.
And this is the point where I would get slightly nervous because I always fall in love with fantastic heroines in the first book of a series and then get my heart dashed as it goes on (Looking at you, Katniss!)… but I have no doubt that Deryn and I are for keeps.
*fingers crossed*
And OH, I caught you with your tingling feelings after a certain prince hugged you. Don’t think I didn’t see that!
Just because you’re a soldier doesn’t mean you can’t twist your skirts every now and again… or um, you know… your uniformed pants.

Again, I can’t wait to see what happens when what I think will happen happens !

When the wonderful Catie recommended this book to me to be part of my Illustrated Book Week I was sceptical because it didn’t look like the kind of book that should be illustrated.
I mean it wasn’t about magic or fairy tales or monsters.
It was about alternative war and machines and.... boy stuff.
But, boy am I glad it was illustrated?!
I think they are particularly important because they are so detailed and perfectly capture Westfeld’s fantastical world. They almost looked like they had been produced with the smog and grime and grease from one of the Clanker's machines.
What I loved was that even though they were highly detailed and intricate, they also managed to maintain their cartoon-ness (Is there a word for that?). I loved the pictures with the characters on them the most because Mr Thompson got their facial expressions perfectly.
Also, the fact that Deryn is taller than Alek was brilliant!

Theme Tune.
I couldn’t find any song that really went with giant whale airships and clanking.
So I’m* going to choose a song for my girl, Deryn.

Just a Girl by No Doubt.
*Well, I say I’m- fellow music lover Catie chose this one because I was too busy buying the next two books.

Sadness Scale.

3/10. Almost zilch but I think Alek’s story (if you know your…um, alternate history you’ll know what I mean) was really sad.
Poor little pup.
And also, while I’m thinking about it, Deryn’s story is sad as well. But she doesn’t tend to dwell…
I hope we’ll get to find out more about these and their feelings as the series goes on.

Recommended For.
People who are looking for a fast-paced, high-action book with great characters and fantastic potential for the rest of the books. People who live in places where they can’t get mobile reception but have an abundance of lizards who seem to listen to your conversations! People who think that the smell of fish and cow farts always lead to adventure. People who would look great in a bowler hat. People who actually use the words “boffin” and “ninny” in everyday conversations (I actually do, you know, when I’m not swearing like a lorry driver.) People who always take medicine when they go on their glacial hikes. Boys who couldn’t recognise a girl if she cut her hair short and wore pants. People who are suspicious of eggs. People who can’t wait to see what happens when what they think will happen happens.

You can read this review and other exciting things on my blog here.
Profile Image for Lyndz.
108 reviews347 followers
May 10, 2012
After reading Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices, I got a taste for steampunk that I have not been able to satiate until now.

Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Leviathan is targeted for early YA, in the same vein as Percy Jackson and the early Harry Potters. My advice to you is if you are thinking about reading any of the Rick Riordan/Percy Jackson books; put that thought out of your mind right now, and pick up Leviathan instead. Trust me on this one, you will thank me for it.

Leviathan is alternate history novel that takes place in the time immediately preceding WWI. Just after the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were murdered in Sarajevo. Leviathan follows the story of their (fictional) son and heir to the throne, Alek, as he attempts to escape the armies wanting to kill him. Austria, like Germany, is a “Clanker” nation which means they rely on machines for weapons and transportation.

We have dual protagonists in this book and different chapters are told from the different protagonist’s viewpoints. Our 2nd main character is Deryn. Deryn is a young female commoner disguised as a male in the British Air Force. The British are what are referred to as ”Darwinists", meaning that they rely on genetically altered animals for weapons and transportation. Leviathan is the name of the genetically engineered hydrogen-based whale aircraft on which Deryn is stationed.

The heart of the story is Clankers vs. the Darwinists.
As Scott Westerfeld points out, the beauty of steampunk is that it combines past with future. There is a lot of historical fact in this book which keeps it interesting, but with a futuristic flair.

For me, Deryn made this book, she was charming and funny. This is a quote from Deryn, when thinking about the chemical makeup of water: “It'd always seemed a bit suspect to her, that two gases mixed up made a liquid…” Deryn is constantly spouting out funny phrases like ”wee beasties” and cursing ”jumping spiders”. Alek was equally likeable, but for me not as relatable (since he is male).

I had to award Leviathan with one extra half point because there is a TAZMANIAN TIGER named Taza. You can’t go wrong with a Tasmanian tiger, I mean, come on, it doesn’t get much cooler than that.

Dear Mr. Westerfeld, I hereby forgive you for writing The Uglies Trilogy. ‘Oh, no,’ you may say, ‘there is no forgiveness needed’. But yes, I insist, it is needed. Trust me, it really is.

My one word to describe Leviathan: Juicy-steampunky-awesomeness – that is all one word, I swear!

4 & 1/2 STARS!
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.5k followers
January 7, 2020
Leviathan (Leviathan #1), Scott Westerfeld

It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, diesel-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.

Aleksander Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men.

Meanwhile, Deryn, a commoner girl, is staying with her brother Jaspert in London. Her father died in a ballooning accident and her mother and aunts want her to grow up as a proper lady. Deryn dreams of joining the British Air Service and to serve on one of the great air beasts. In order to do so, she must pose as a boy ("Dylan Sharp"). To pass the starting exam, she goes aloft with a Huxley (a jellyfish-like creature which uses hydrogen to float) to prove her air-worthiness. However, a storm hits while she is aloft, severely tossing Deryn and the Huxley about, and they narrowly survive—she is forced to cut the Huxley loose from its mooring in order to avoid crashing into a nearby building. This results in Deryn and the Huxley being blown out over the North Sea; she is thrilled when she and the Huxley are rescued by the Leviathan, the most famous of the air-beasts, a massive ecosystem comprising many different animals but based largely on a whale. She is inducted into the crew of the Leviathan, and makes friends with the 'Monkey Luddite' Newkirk. The Leviathan's mission is to transport a top British boffin, or scientist, and a secret package to Constantinople. Deryn is surprised to learn the boffin is a woman, Dr. Nora Barlow, and is afraid Barlow will discover her secret.

In the air over Europe, the Leviathan comes under attack from German airplanes. The crew fights back and defeats the planes, but not before the great whale's hydrogen bladder is severely punctured. The airship crash-lands in Switzerland on the very glacier where Alek's group is hiding. Alek and Volger witness the crash, but Volger insists they do nothing to interfere, as they will risk giving away their position to the Germans or being captured by the British.

Alek is unable to stomach letting the crew of the Leviathan suffer out on the ice, and secretly leaves the fortress to bring medicine to the crew of the fallen ship. The first person he finds is an unconscious Deryn, who had fallen from the rigging during the crash. Alek revives her and claims unconvincingly to be a Swiss villager. Deryn is suspicious of him and sounds the alarm, resulting in Alek's capture. Alek continues to insist he is just a bystander trying to help, but the captain refuses to release him and instead leaves him under Deryn's charge. The secret cargo brought by Dr. Barlow is revealed to be eggs of some kind, though most were destroyed in the crash.

Alek's "family" comes to his rescue, and battle almost erupts between the two sides, but Deryn's quick thinking in bringing Alek to the front and holding him as a hostage brings everyone together to talk under a flag of truce. Realizing their differences are outweighed by their similarities, Alek offers a sizable chunk from their food storage so the ship can replenish its hydrogen supply and take off again. However, as they travel back to the Leviathan, two German zeppelins appear and send out commandos to capture them. Unfortunately, one of the zeppelins escapes, and the Stormwalker is severely damaged by an aerial bomb, making it impossible to stand up and repair.

August 5, 2017
For any YA-fans looking for a new fun and imaginative adventure to fill the Harry-Potter-sized void in your lives, I give you Leviathan!

Beware the Clanker Revolution!

It's the year 1914, and Austrian prince Alek has just learned that his parents have been murdered. Instead of being allowed time to grieve, he is forced to flee his country with only a handful of men loyal to him. As his birthright represents a direct threat to the Clanker army's quest for power, the fifteen-year-old Alek has been targeted for assassination. On the run, the young prince tries valiantly to find a way to prevent a war by ending the conflict.

Behold the Darwinist Evolution!

In contrast, Deryn Sharp doesn't try to avoid conflict, she thrives on it! So much so that the 15-year-old girl masquerades as a boy just so she can join the British Air Service. Now she finds herself swept away to a new home, filled with extraordinary genetically-altered creatures. As the young girl fights alongside the Darwinists in their battle against the Clankers, she proves many times over that the most powerful weapon at her disposal is her mind.

"Leviathan" was the most fun I've had reading a book in a long time! One thing that struck me was the sheer creativity Scott Westerfeld displayed in establishing this alternate-reality version of World War I. The Clanker army (which includes Germany, Austria, and the Ottoman Empire) possesses a wide variety of steam-powered monstrosities that march into war. What was truly impressive was Westerfeld's ability to not only describe the various machines' appearances, but to even provide such fluid descriptions as to how they operate. The Darwinists (comprised of Britain, France, and Russia) feature even more imaginative weapons, genetically-manufactured "beasties" that are crossbreeds of various animals and scientifically engineered to possess useful abilities (my favorite being the talking Message Lizards). Such a perfect blend of the natural and the mechanical makes Westerfeld's world a truly rich and elaborate setting.

Of course, a book that takes place in an exciting world still suffers if the characters aren't interesting, but fortunately Westerfeld gives us a cast that manages to be even more compelling than the wonders surrounding them. Alek is altruistic, yet somewhat spoiled. He is stoic in the loss of his parents, but his emotions still get the better of him at times. Deryn is also an extremely likable character. She is spirited and strong, but often also reveals a much softer side (especially her affection towards the beasties that most others only see as tools). Deryn's swashbuckling ways led me to almost cheer out loud on more than one occasion. Westerfeld pulls off an amazing trick, giving us two young leads who are wise beyond their years, yet also talk and act in such a way that they are perfectly believable as teenagers!

While these two lead characters are captivating enough to carry the book on their own, fortunately they don't have to. Westerfeld also gives us an enjoyable supporting cast as well. Particularly engaging is Dr. Nora Barlow, a British scientist who possesses not only a bubbly disposition, but also a brilliant and observant mind that rivals even that of a certain well-known British detective. Another enthralling player in this drama is Count Volger, the loyalist who becomes Alek's father figure. Volger is gruff, but also noble, and his cunning and shrewdness make us very grateful that he is on Alek's side! Truthfully, the supporting characters in this book are more interesting than the stars of many other books!

On the surface, the story is a fast-paced adventure, but there are many other themes that play out as well. The persecution the Darwinists suffer from those who label them "godless". A soldier's torment over whether to follow orders or do what they truly feel is right. The fallacy of gender and national stereotypes. Mature themes are woven into a young-adult adventure to add more layers of depth to the story.

Ultimately, once I finished reading this book, I only had one complaint...I wish the book never had to end!
Profile Image for TK421.
556 reviews260 followers
March 25, 2011
Whew…where do I begin? First off, let me tell you this is my first steampunk experience, which will definitely not be my last. At work, I’ve had a few of my co-workers recommend this book to me, along with about fifteen other steampunk titles. I ignored them. Steampunk just wasn’t my bag. It seemed too…too…what’s the word?...ridiculous. Months passed. But every time I needed a new book to read and review for my job, I always found myself looking at LEVIATHAN. The cover art is pretty cool; but just not cool enough for me to read it…or so I thought. Then, last night, as we were closing shop, I dared myself to read this title. I’m not much into YA literature either, so my hopes were not great. I thought: If I can just read 50 pages, then I could tell them that this type of stuff isn’t for me.

Well, my wife and kids went to bed early, so I opened this book. And man oh man, did I have a fun few hours. As the night grew older, I kept saying, “Just one more chapter.” I ended up reading half the book.

The story revolves around an alternate history of what precipitated the events that triggered (no pun intended for those history buffs reading this review) WWI. In the real history, Archduke Franz Ferdinand was killed by an assassin’s bullet. In this version, the Duke and his wife are killed by poison after having survived two previous attempts. Their deaths leave their son, Aleck, now heir to the Austrian-Hungary Empire alone, save for two loyal officers that whisk him away in the dead of the night. This all happens within the first ten pages. I liked this. It kind of had an Ender’s Game feel to it.

As the story progresses, we find out that the world basically split into two factions: the Clankers, and the Darwinists. The Clankers live and die by technology. Machines are their future. In fact, their machines seem to serve one purpose only: advancement of military might. Darwinists are a bit different. Yes, they use technology, but this technology is fused with the life forms of earth. These are called Beasties. A great example of these Beasties is the Leviathan itself. This monstrosity has the body of a whale, but is actually an amalgam of ecosystems working together. It looks and acts like a zeppelin, the difference being, it is alive. Needless to say, the world-building in this story is incredible. I could see and smell and hear all what was happening, both in the Clankers world and in the Darwinists’.

I won’t spoil the story, but here are a few themes throughout: bravery, technology versus nature, overcoming odds, redemption, acceptance of loss, and loyalty. There are epic battles and escapes. Daring rescues. Science and speculation. Strange eggs. Descendants of Charles Darwin. Fusion of past and future concepts. A girl posing as a boy as to serve her country in war. (Possible romance in the next books?) And, my favorite, bats that eat pieces of metal so they can be used as missiles when attacking enemies. (You can probably guess as to how these projectiles are ejected from the bats!!)

The two major criticisms I have about this novel are: sometimes the language seems needlessly juvenile. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does it is jarring to the story. The other is the illustrations. I found this book to be dark. Not in violence or topic necessarily, but it is about war and is filled with war scenes, the illustrations detract from the story, sometimes making it less urgent or compelling. Had these been drawn to show the darker elements of the story, they would have added greatly.

Still, this was an awesome novel. I will proudly eat my own words and say steampunk is fun, good reading, and YA literature has a lot to offer.

Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,887 reviews1,924 followers
October 15, 2011
Wow. Really, just...wow. I love alternate histories, and I dote on steampunk, and I am learning just how fertile the YA vineyards are in both these realms. This book is a wonderful tale of an alternate WWI, fought between the Darwinist powers and the Clankers. That is, those whose fighting technology is genetically manipulated animal based, and those whose fighting technology is...well, technology.

Darwin's theories of evolution became available to manipulate and modify animals at a much earlier stage of reality than our own, and of course the first thing that was created was fighting machines. Well, duh, we're talking about humans here, and what do we love better as a species than killing each other? The author, whose prejudices are clearly against the killing of others, never preaches, though his subtext is pretty overt to adult readers.

The story's focus is on a teenaged Hapsburg prince, the son of Franz Ferdinand (the archduke, not the Scottish dance band), whose factuality I have no idea about...though it wouldn't surprise me if there was a large dollop of truth in it...as he attempts to survive the loss of his parents, the bewildering early days of the war, and the inevitable confrontation of his prejudices with the realities of the Great Evil Other Side, the Darwinists. It's a very good piece of storytelling, no doubt about it; it's also a subtle and undidactic meditation on the sense of self as it's constructed during our adolescence, with all the pressures and trials magnified by both war and the identity that the young hero didn't choose.

His opposite number, a Darwinist airshipman, is secretly a girl, and this fact would just get her bounced out of service...whereas the prince's withheld identity, though known to midshipman Dylan/Deryn Sharp, would get him imprisoned and used as a pawn in international politicking. Both identities are kept secret, thank goodness, or there wouldn't be a sequel.

Which had darn straight better be forthcoming soon! I liked this book, and I recommend it to all lovers of identity fiction, steampunk aficionadoes, and the odd curious tourist into this twisty piece of literary territory. It's a great first steampunk book. Enjoy!
Profile Image for Jesse (JesseTheReader).
468 reviews168k followers
March 10, 2013
I really enjoyed this and I'm glad it was the first steam punk book I got to read! I loved all the different vehicles and airships throughout the book. I just had a few problems with one of the main characters, as she was super annoying, and I also thought the ending was a BUZZKILL. Other than that the story was great and I'm excited to continue on with this trilogy.
Profile Image for aLirEza nEjaTi.
258 reviews
October 18, 2020
لویاتان (لویاتان #1) از نشر باژ 🔥

اول از همه بگم که
من علاقه‌ی زیادی به تاریخ جهان ، مخصوصا جنگ جهانی دارم
من ایضا علاقه‌ی زیادی به ژانر علمی‌تخیلی دارم ^_^
حالا وقتی این دو تا باهم ترکیب میشن و ژانری مثل alt-history رو به‌وجود می‌آرن طبعا من خوشحال می‌شم :دی

کتاب دنیای متفاوت با دنیای ما معرفی می‌کنه ک شامل دو گروه ابرقدرت کلنکرها ( با دنیای صنعتی شده و ماشین های بخارشان) و داروینیست‌ها ( با موجودات زنده و تغییر ژنتیک یافته‌شان) می‌شه که با هم در تقابلن.
روایت داستان روی مرز خیلی باریکی از واقعیت و تخیل جلو میره و بسیاری از ا��ف��قاتی که در زمان جنگ جهانی اول افتاده در داستان هم تاثیرگذار هستند.
نحوه روایت داستان خیلی روان و تقریبا خطیه.از همون ابتدا مشخصه با کتاب سطح بالایی طرف هستین. هیجان داستان همون‌جاییه ک باید باشه ،بالا پایین کتاب جای خودشه. از نظر من ایرادی وارد ب داستان نبود
پردازش شخصیت‌ها هم خیلی خوب و سر‌حوصله جلو میره و نویسنده عجله‌ای برای این‌کار نداره. از شخصیت های داستان شاهزاده الک خیلی رو مخ و لوس بود و زیاد باهاش ارتباط برقرار نکردم ولی بقیه جالبتر بودند برام و کنت هم شخصیت مورد‌علاقه ام ^_^
چیزی ک بیشتر از همه درباره کتاب دوست داشتم طراحی های داخل کتاب بود، خیلی تعجب کردم وقتی اولین بار دیدم ولی بعدا فقط منتظر صفحات طراحی دار بودم. 😍
بطور کلی خیلی کتاب رو پسندیدم ولی امتیاز کامل نمیدم تا با خوندن جلو دوم بازم منو بیشتر متحیر کنه

تجربه‌ی خوانش دوم بهتر از اون، تجربه‌ی همخوانی این کتاب خیلی بهتر بود و باعث می‌شد خیلی بیشتر و بهتر درون دنیای کتاب غرق بشم و همراه دوستان همخوانی بخونم و یاد بگیرم.

علاقه‌مندان علمی‌تخیلی بخوانند :))
Profile Image for Connor.
686 reviews1,656 followers
February 9, 2017
I did in the end enjoy this novel, but I had a few reservations. I loved the illustrations. I wish they were all pushed a page later so they wouldn't spoil what was currently happening every time I turned the page, but that was alright. I think at times, I found it easy to put down, but once I committed, I was totally in. The characters were pretty realistic with their characterizations and were kept super consistent. I loved the afterward where he explained his ideas for this alternate history/futuristic story. I though it ended pretty abruptly, but I'm definitely pumped to read the rest of the series though! 3.5 Stars
Profile Image for Mike.
481 reviews375 followers
July 10, 2017
I felt that this series was best reviewed as one coherent narrative given the relatively short period of time the books cover, the continuous story that was told, and the similarities between them.

The Leviathan series is a fun mix of steampunk, adventure, and historical/alternative history that, for the most part, delivered a satisfying and enjoyable reading experience (even if the end of the series does sink a bit too deeply into some annoying YA qualities). I was able to devour these books at a rapid clip and rarely felt the writing or story lagged significantly. If you are looking for a unique and adventurous take on both the steampunk genre and WWI historical fiction this could be the series for you if you can stand some YA elements mixed in.

First off I really liked the setting. This series imagines a world very much on the brink of WWI, but instead of the world split between the Central Powers and the Allied Powers, it is instead split between the Clankers (the Central Powers that utilized technologically driven war machines) and the Darwinists (the Allied Powers that manipulate biology to create tools and war machines). I was happy to see WWI used as a backdrop for the story because it is a criminally underused setting (present Wonder Woman movie excluded). It has just as many fascinating aspects as WWII but is often overshadowed by the sequel.

In any event Westerfeld did an excellent job blending his new scientific reality with the conditions of WWI Europe. He used actual events from history to inform his story's plot and had a deft enough understanding of the war to adjust its trajectory to match the changes he was making in his story. Even better, he took time at the end of each book to explain what parts of the story were real, what parts he adapted from historical events, and what parts he created. It showed a real respect he had for the war he was borrowing for his own story and educates the reader at the same time.

The story itself follows, for the most part, a great British Leviathan (a biologically engineered creature that serves as sort of a floating battleship with all sorts of neat biological weapons) that the two main characters, Austrian Prince Alek and Deryn, a British girl who masquerades as a boy to join the military. Through circumstances not of their own control they are thrown together on this great beast as it carries out war critical missions for the Allies. As you can imagine a crown prince from a Clanker nation on a Darwinist war beast can raise some problems, but Westerfeld does a very good job with the story putting Alek in positions to help out and maintain a position on the Leviathan (though not without the occasional complication).

I thought the characters of Alek and Deryn were well constructed. They had their own motivations and goals and Westerfeld let that lead the decisions they made. They are both quite young and find themselves in a completely new environment so there is naturally some growing pains for both of them as they have to learn what it means to literally have the lives of others in their hands. Both make stupid mistakes from time to time but mistakes that feel right in the context of their characters' motivations and histories. All in all I felt like both of these main characters were sympathetic and real enough for me to care about.

The secondary characters, on the other hand, I thought got a bit of a short shrift. A few of them got some decent back story but they seemed more to be extensions of Alek or Deryn's character arc than living breathing characters of their own. We do run into some historical figures but they, for the most part, tended to be more window dressing than terribly crucial to the plot (Tesla being the exception). To a degree this didn't bother me much since this was very much an Alek and Deryn story, but a richer cast of secondary characters could have enriched the story further.

Being a story that takes place during an immense war I thought Westerfeld do a very good job balancing military engagements with plot progression. The fights that did occur were both creative and well described (which they sort of have to be given it had giant floating monsters squaring off with coal powered fighting mechs). I was impressed with how thoroughly Westerfeld thought out the details of his world and the novel ways he saw the overall Clanker and Darwinist philosophies inform their military decisions. He also took time to explore and integrate the political situations into the story, showing that diplomacy could be just as important in the war as military prowess.

I was disappointed in a few aspects of this story though.

The story centers around the journeys and adventures of Alek and Deryn so the reader doesn't get much of any view of the fighting that is occurring in Europe. We never get to see full on Clanker and Darwinist forces tangle. The first World War was (in)famous for its trench warfare and I would have liked to see Westerfeld take on just what that would look like in his imagined world. The reader would get oblique references to the fighting, but always second hand and very general. I understand why Westerfeld told the story the way he did but I was disappointed as the narrow view of this nifty world we were given.

I also thought the final book in the series was a bit weak. It got a bit too deep in some of the weaker parts of the YA genre (seriously guys, just sit down and talk it out, don't spend hundreds of pages wallowing in your own "woe is me" funk) and I felt the overall level of action in the third book paled in comparison to the first two. The fighting wasn't as interesting, the politics was not as engaging, and the characters could not carry the increased load of the story (hence the three stars for the third book).

Overall I was very pleased with the series even if the third book fell a bit flat. Westerfeld's imaginative world building and understanding of WWI really made this series a compelling and enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Valerie.
249 reviews74 followers
February 28, 2010
The style came easily to me even if it is my first historical sci-fi book. I usually avoid sci-fi for the reason that they usually have long series. I read somewhere that there is a sequel to Leviathan but I forgot. I probably would've read the book anyway though because Deryn is a girl disguised as a boy and that in and of itself would hook me to almost any book.

Absolutely loved the whole Darwinist v. Clanker bit. The fact that Westerfeld really made it fit so easily without making everything overly complicated was greatly appreciated. I haven't read a book with pictures in it in a long long time and I have to say that I actually thought it was great. Usually when I struggle with creating images I just keep rereading it, but the drawings really helped and I could tell the illustrator thought through his illustrations.

The characters Deryn and Alek are well developed. At first I didn't like Alek because he seemed so immature for a 16 year old aristocrat but he grows throughout the book. Deryn’s point of view is what I was looking forward to and she is what I hoped she would be. She is tough and smart even without the education that Alek has. Alek’s immaturity lessens and his feelings of entitlement do too. As the book progressed I could like both characters equally. I also enjoyed the secondary characters: some are funny, some are just so darn loyal, and some are mysterious.

But I couldn't get rid of the nagging feeling that these two characters seem younger than 15 and 16. The book was more juvenile than I thought it would be -though that alone probably would not have stopped me from giving it 5 stars. The truth is that I really have no other complaints, it just didn't grip me completely. But I'm definitely going to read the sequel. I just gotta know...
Profile Image for Mohadese.
368 reviews965 followers
October 29, 2020
امتیاز من: ۳.۷۵
من معمولا ریویوهامو با یه جمله یا بخشی از کتاب آغاز میکنم این‌بار می‌خوام براتون خلاصه کتابو بذارم:
شاهزاده الکساندر، وارث آینده‌ی تاج‌و‌تخت امپراتوری اتریش و مجارستان در حال فرار است. مردم کشورش علیه او شده‌اند و عنوان سلطنتی‌اش ارزشی ندارد. تنها چیزی که دارد ماشین جنگی فرسوده‌ای از نبرد است و گروهی از افراد وفادار.
درین شارپ، دختری رعیت، خودش را پسر جا زده تا بتواند در نیروی هوایی بریتانیا خدمت کند. او هوانوردی فوق‌العاده باهوش است ولی هرلحظه ممکن است رازش فاش شود.
وقتی جنگ اول جهانی شعله می‌کشد، الک و درین به‌شکلی کاملاً غیرمنتظره با هم برخورد می‌کنند و آن‌ها را به ماجراجویی خیال‌انگیزی دور دنیا می‌فرستند که زندگی هر دوشان را برای همیشه دگرگون می‌کند!

اگه دارید فکر میکنید با یه داستان تینیجری تکراری طرفید سخت در اشتباهید و اگه نخونیدش از لذت یک داستان علمی تخیلیِ استیم پانکِ تاریخ جایگزین محروم می‌شید

تاریخ جایگزین یعنی چی؟
یعنی خط زمانی داستان براساس اتفاقات واقعی سال 1941 و شروع جنگ جهانی اوله اما همه چیز واقعی نیست و نویسنده برپایه تاریخ واقعی یک تاریخ جدید و جایگزین نوشته و در قسمت پایانی توضیح داده چیا واقعیه و چیا نه

استیم پانک چیه؟
استیم پانک یه زیرشاخه از ژانر علمی تخیلیع یعنی اون زمانا که اسب بخار و ماشین آلات سنگین بود

و اما علمی تخیلی چیه؟ اینم توضیح لازم داره؟ یعنی موجودات و تکنولوژی داستان ابداع نویسنده هستند
درسته که کتاب یه تاریخ جایگزینه اما به دلیل تکنولوژی ماشین آلا ارائه شده در کتاب احتمال رخ دادش در آینده حقیقتا خیلی بیشتره تا گذشته

الان ممکنه فکر کنید با یه داستان جنگی طرفیم ولی حواستون باشه این کتاب جلد اوله و مال شروع جنگه هنوز به قسمتای هیجان‌انگیزش نرسیدیم ولی این کتاب هم مهمه چون با شخصیت‌های کتاب و پس زمینه اتفاقات و چی شد که اینجوری شد آشنا میشیم.

ایده لویاتان جذاب بود، سیر داستان و سرعتش خوب و منطقی بود، ترجمه و معادل سازی‌ها رو دوست داشتم و این که تصویر داشت مابین داستان که خیلی جذاب‌تر می‌کرد داستان رو

این بود ریویو من، لویاتان بخونید.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,094 reviews1,508 followers
April 12, 2014
This combination fantasy and alternative history of World War 1 was fun and imaginative in many ways, but it came up short for me in its limited depth of characters and plotting and in my troubles suspending disbelief. Only some of such weakness seems attributable to this being children’s literature.

The overall premise is that the Allied powers use genetically engineered animals in their military technology while the Central powers use machines—the "Darwinists" versus the "Clankers". The former have living blimps derived from whales and hydrogen producing jellyfish, while the latter have walking tank-like machines. The alternative history angle has it that the assassination of the Austrian archduke in Sarajevo was a plot by the Germans to start the war and that his fictional teenaged son Alek has to go on the run with some of his father’s men to keep out of their clutches. The plot brings him together with a 14-year old British girl, Deryn, who has joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman by pretending to be a boy. Her ship, the Leviathan, is on a secret mission to Constantinople known only to a colorful and mysterious woman scientist aboard the ship.

Both Alek and Deryn show a heartwarming courage and ingenuity in the face of dangerous conflicts with the Kaiser’s military forces. Deryn in particular has fetching verve, great sense of humor, and cute use of slang. However, I didn’t quite get the same level of satisfaction from the emotional struggles and challenges to coming of age from the young heroes of Harry Potter, tales of Narnia, and Pullman’s Golden Compass series. I do give it some style points, consistent with the surface chic typical of the emerging steampunk genre; i.e. that special combination of projecting early advances of technology with a backward-looking nostalgic twist. The wonderful drawings by Keith Thompson are a definite plus in that regard. I balked quite a bit over the silliness of the two-legged walking tanks being so subject to falling over (at least the similar machines in Star Wars had four legs). And the core weakness of airships with lift provided by explosive hydrogen is the very reason Zeppelins failed as an effective military technology. I also got tired of the frequent references to the ominous stink of leaking hydrogen, when this gas is odorless (in contrast to the hydrogen sulfide of rotten eggs).

Despite these caveats, the book still kept me glued to the read. I was headed to a 4-star rating when I was cheated by the abrupt ending. Even books in a series should have more closure than this one did. We never learn anything about what the mission to Constantinople was all about or even get a sense of the linkage of the Ottoman Empire had to do with the German and Austrio-Hungarian Empires. Is it a spoiler to tell potential readers that they must count on reading the whole series to get any real understanding of major plot elements?
Profile Image for Erin.
232 reviews103 followers
June 4, 2012
What a pleasant surprise this book was! I strongly dislike the Uglies series and had a sense that Leviathan would be a "boy book" (whatever that means), but it turns out it was highly enjoyable.

Basically, a heavily altered retelling of the initiation of World War I. It follows two protagonists: Alek, the orphaned son of the murdered Austrian archduke, and Deryn, a girl disguising herself as a boy in order to fly on a Darwinist airbeast. She will be flying against the Clankers, the sections of Europe that rely on machinery.

Clankers v. Darwinists... who will win? I'm a Clanker through and through, so reading about the strange ships made out of several animals was just confusing to me. It seemed too implausible to bother wrapping my head around. On the other hand, the scenes where Alek-- on the run from German forces trying to kill him-- was operating the Stormwalker were so fascinating to me. I loved the heroic effect it gave him. Mr. Fancypants here can run in the dark!

I have a lot of room in my heart for Alek and Deryn! Deryn especially was making a lot of progress in the best-character category during the first half (not that I didn't like Alek, it's just that Deryn seemed cooler). But then Alek came out of nowhere and now I think I probably like him the best. I was freaking out when his disguise was in jeopardy... poor little thing was just trying to give them medicine! And the part where he cried about his parents? Would you were real, Alek, so I could hug you! Sniff.

And an honorable mention goes out to Volger. What a tool, but in the best way possible.

Other Things on My Heart
I regret reading this so quickly; I feel I did the book a disservice. The ending was very blurry and I was starting to feel less enthusiastic, but for some reason I decided to keep going.

I liked the small, small, small hints of romantic feelings directed from Deryn to Alek. She's in control of herself for the most part, but allows those binoculars of hers to stay on Alek's face for a liiiiiitle longer than necessary. And even if, over the course of the series, their relationship never turns into a reciprocal romance (but I'm sure it will!), I truly feel like these two kids could make the greatest duo of bffs EVER.

And, just for repetition's sake, I like Alek better than Deryn! Pretty much every review I've read has been givin' Deryn all the love, so I thought I'd chime in with some Alek support. :)

Lastly: What is in those eggs, goshdangit? And why does Dr. Barlow have to be so sly? I was comically protective of Alek's secrets, so whenever she let on that she knew something, I was all "BACK OFF, WOMAN!" Ha.

Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews224 followers
November 27, 2017

This book read like a newsreel being delivered by a stiff network anchor. I never felt engaged by the story or the characters. Everything moves at a super slow pace an is overly simplistic.

The book is a steampunk and historical fictional piece about the son of assassinated WW1 icon Franz Ferdinand. The story takes place in the events leading up to and then in the war. The fictitiously named son spends his time on the run in a dirigible learning secrets long kept from him.

I will not be continuing the series.
Profile Image for Ivan.
417 reviews277 followers
March 1, 2017
I love the setting but characters and story are bit too naively written. Since this is YA book aimed at lower age parts of YA spectrum but I feel that what this book does, it does worse than Mortal Engines which has significantly better characters and character interactions. Overall fun read but too much unused potential for such awesome setting.
Profile Image for Brooke W.
124 reviews200 followers
February 13, 2021
At first, this book was a DNF. I was not a good enough reader yet, and I had no respect for steampunk. How wrong I was. I flew(ha) through this, happy and in anticipation the whole time. By the time I picked it back up again, a few months later, I had been introduced to Uglies and Impostors...
I love love love alternate history, and Westerfeld turned World War 1 into a fight between mechanics and animal lovers(poor explanation alert). Everything was so well explained that I could envision every movement. There are INCREDIBLE illustrations in all three books! MIND-BLOWING level drawings.

Plot: It was very well thought through and things come together perfectly at the end of the trilogy. I love the ending of Goliath so so much :) Leviathan was a little predictable, but it left me in so much anticipation.

Deryn: I love her. She's incredible! She has such perseverance and a great personality and a sense of humor. She's so enjoyable and I LOVE her perspective, passion, and ferocity.
Alek: I love Alek as well but Deryn is #1. Alek definitely has the most growth in this series, he learns about himself and what he is willing to fight for, and that he is capable of making decisions.

The ~one~ thing I didn't like:
Leviathan was a little predictable, I knew where this book was going. It left me in high anticipation which I give Westerfeld applause for. *applause* The rest of this series is very unpredictable and I would recommend giving them a try even if you didn't like book 1!

The trilogy alternates perspective between our MCs, Deryn(Dylan), and Aleksander(Alek). Deryn is posing as a boy so she can fly. It's all she's wanted, and she's willing to risk so much for flying. Alek the prince of Austro-Hungaria. A worthless commoner and a prince, in an alternate WW1. With Scott Westerfeld as the author. Scott Westerfeld can write ANY AND EVERY SINGLE genre.

Through all of Westerfeld's variety of genres and years of writing, he's grown as a writer but I still love and recognize his talent.

I'm so thankful to my LA teacher for recommending this series to me!! I love this series and it has a spot on my favorites list!

I recommend to alt. history and steampunk lovers and people who are looking for a new genre.
Profile Image for DarkMaster.
38 reviews44 followers
December 23, 2020
خب این اولین تجربه من تو ژانر استیم پانک بود و این کتاب شدیدا منو به این ژانر علاقمند کرد. قبل از هر چیزی بگم که، تمام متنی که در حال خوندنش هستین فقط فقط ریویوی من به این کتابه و به هیچ وجه نقد نیست و صرفا نظر شخضی منه.

این کتاب از اول به استعاره های سیاسی و هنری که داره مخاطب رو به وجد میاره. مقایسه اتفاقات کتاب به عنوان یک تاریخ جایگزین واقعا جذابه هر چند که یکم در حاشیه بودن. روند کلی داستان در اوایل یکم خسته کننده است که تمامش آماده سازی جهان کتابه. توضیحات دو جناح جنگ و تفاوتشون در طرز صحبت و رفتار کاملا فاحشه و این حسو به من خواننده داد که،آره! این ها طرف های مقابل جنگ هستن.

شخصیت پردازی کتاب خیلی زیاد نیست و تا حدی کلیشه ایه ولی خب خوب عمل می کنه و ارتباط گرفتن با کرکتر ها اونقدرام سخت نیست اما می تونست خیلی بهتر باشه و بیشتر و به کرکتر های فرعی پرداخته بشه که فکر می کنم در بهیموث شاهد این موضوع باشیم.

فضاسازی کتاب اونقدری که باید قوی نبود ولی لعنتی خیلی جذاب بود و وقتی به بخش فضاسازی های استیم پانک می رسیدم واقعا لذت می بردم. فضاسازی ها در نیمه دوم کتاب به مراتب کامل تر هم میشدند و تقایل فضای دو طرف جنگ واقعا جذاب بود.

در کل باید بگم کتاب خیلی خوبی بود و یک پلات کلی داشت که تئ همین جلد پایان یافت منو چندان تو خماری نذاشت ولی خب راز هایی بودن که فاش نشدن و من شدیدا برای خوندن بهیموث ترغیب شدم
Profile Image for Ali Book World.
316 reviews173 followers
August 8, 2020
شاهزاده الکساندر وارث تاج و تخت امپراتوری اتریش-مجارستان بعد از اتفاقات ناگواری که براش رخ میده مجبور به فرار میشه و فقط تعدادی از گروه وفادار به پدرش و یک ماشین جنگی رو در اختیار داره. از طرفی، دِرین که دختری رعیت و از خانواده‌ای معمولیست برای اینکه بتواند وارد نیروی هوایی ارتش بریتانیا بشود مجبور است خود را به عنوان پسر جا بزند. دِرین و الک بعد از گذشت مدت زمان طولانی به هم برخورد میکنند و خواه‌ناخواه سرنوشت و زندگی این دو نفر و اطرافیانشون به هم گره میخوره...

ایده کتاب فوق‌العاده جذابه. این که نویسنده براساس یک سری رخدادهای تاریخی که پیرامون جنگ جهانی اول اتفاق افتادند و در نهایت موجب شروع این جنگ شدند، یک کتاب و داستانی متفاوت و تخیلی نوشته (که بهش میگن: تاریخ جایگزین) واقعا عالی بود. متن داستان خیلی روونه و به شکل عجیبی گیراست. (واقعا نمیدونم این چهارصد صفحه رو چجوری خوندم☺️)

جلد اول از مجموعه‌ی لویاتان کاملا مقدمه‌ست. اما دقت کنید که حرفم به این معنی نیست که توی این جلد چیزی رخ نمیده. نه. اتفاقا مبدا و منشاء همه چیز، همین جلده. اگر در مورد تاریخ اتریش-مجارستان و طریقه‌ی شروع جنگ جهانی اول اطلاعات مختصری داشته باشید خیلی بهتر میتونید با این کتاب ارتباط برقرار کنید. یک سری شخصیت‌ها کاملا خیالی هستند و یک‌سری هم کاملا واقعی که ماجراهای تخیلی براشون رقم میخوره.

منتهی یکَمی شخصیت پردازی بعضی از کاراکترها ضعیفه اما بخاطر مصور بودن صفحه‌ها و نقاشی‌های داخل کتاب، این ضعف جبران شده و میشه کاملا همه چیزو لمس کرد. پس به نظرم این ضعف واقعا یک ضعف نیست🤷🏻‍♂️😄

از اول تا پایان این جلد شیب رو به بالای ملایمی داره و هیچ‌جایی از کتاب کند نمیشه. دیالوگ‌ها به اندازه‌اند، توصیفات کاملا به جا و در کل روندی قابل قبول داره و پایان جلد هم کاملا وابسته به جلد دومه!!!!... یعنی اگر شروع کردید به خوندن باید تا آخرین جلد پیش برید پس با تصمیمی نهایی وارد ماجرای لویاتان بشید چون جلد دومش با توجه به تاریخ واقعی قطعا محشرتر میشه.

خلاقیت‌های نویسنده هم خوب بود. وجود سلاح‌هایی که توی دنیای واقعی نیستند و موجودات تراژنی و امثال اینها، زیبایی کتاب رو دوچندان کرده و کاملا با این حرف خود نویسنده که میگه "لویاتان در آینده امکان وقوع بیشتری نسبت به گذشته دارد" کاملا موافقم. جمله‌ی سنگینیه خدایی😂

اگر بخوام حال و هوای کتاب رو در یک کلمه توصیف کنم میتونم بگم که منو یاد انیمیشن "قلعه متحرک هاول" 😍 مینداخت.

اگر دوست دارید تجربه‌ای متفاوت از کتابخونی داشته باشید و روایات تاریخی رو با چاشنی تخیل بخونید حتما سراغ لویاتان برید...

امتیاز من به این جلد: 4.5 از 5 میباشد....
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,082 reviews2,941 followers
April 23, 2023
4.0 Stars
I really enjoyed this biopunk/steampunk alternative history. The inclusion of the pictures was a really nice touch. I don't normally read a lot of YA book, but this one avoided the tropes that normally bother instead. This was just simple a solid adventure stories with two strong protagonists.
Profile Image for Shannon .
1,221 reviews2,158 followers
September 21, 2010
Just look at this cover, isn't it GORGEOUS?! I absolutely love it. It's so rich, with such sumptuous detail, wonderful design and use of colour and all the elements of the story and its genres. It's simply RIPPING!! It feels nice too, with embossed bits, shiny bits, matte bits, texture in places so that if you run your fingers over it they get all excited and tingly! The one and only thing that bothers me is the cardstock used - the cover never lies flat but is constantly (even brand new and sitting on the bookshop display table) lifting up into the air almost vertically. Hey, it's a keen book, but covers get damaged this way.

This is one of those books where the gorgeous cover completely matches - and does credit to - the absolutely wonderful story inside. I'm loving this - two YA novels in a row that I can utterly GUSH over! (Count how many times I capitalise my words as a cheap way of conveying enthusiasm - actually don't count, it'll get embarrassing!) Not only is Westerfeld an utter GENIUS here, but Keith Thompson's sketches are simply STUNNING! I found myself gazing and gazing at them. They match the scenes perfectly, and really make the world come alive. Oh, and would you just look at the stunning map:

Here you can see Europe, at the time of the Great War, separated along ideological lines of a new kind: the "Darwinists" depicted with impressive beasts, and the "Clankers" bristling with steam-powered machinery and weapons. The Darwinist countries, like Great Britain, have embraced not just natural selection but gene splicing, cross-breeding animals and creating incredible beasts called "fabrications" - including the Leviathan itself, an immense hydrogen ship that's not just one living organism - mostly whale - but a whole colony of organisms and beasts that each have a role to play. It's absolutely fascinating.

The Clankers, on the other hand - the Germans and Hungarians etc. - have the kind of machines that are clearly inspired by Star Wars, like this giant war machine. They come in smaller two-legged varieties as well.

But I best stop long enough to give you a summary, eh:

Prince Aleksandar, son to Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary, grandson to the emperor, is secretly bundled out of the palace on the night his parents are assassinated in Serbia. His fencing master, Count Volger, and his master of mechaniks, Otto Klopp, get fifteen year old Alek away in a Cyklop Stormwalker (a two-legged machine), but it takes Alek a while to understand the seriousness of his position. Even though his grandfather made it so Alek could never inherit the empire (because he disapproved of the woman Ferdinand decided to marry), his father and Count Volger understood that with the continent bristling for war, Alek could prove a very useful hostage, or pawn.

Meanwhile, in England, sixteen year old Deryn is ready to take her middy's test and join the Air Service like her older brother Jaspert - as long as she can convince them she's really a boy. The test consists of being strapped into the seat below one of the earliest types of air ship - a Huxley. In essence a giant jelly fish filled with hydrogen that panics at the slightest thing, the Huxley goes mostly up or down and can't really be steered. But as Deryn is aloft, a storm comes and the Huxley panics - to save being smashed against a wall in its descent, she's forced to cut the rope that tethers it.

Deryn keeps a calm head, and while she is drifting out to the Channel, is picked up by the Leviathan, one of the earliest and still the best air ship in the Service. Determined to be kept on board, she learns the way of the ship fast. When they make an unprecedented stop at Hyde Park in London to pick up a scientist and a very precious cargo, it is the first step in an adventure that will see Deryn and Alek meet in surprising circumstances - and form an even more unusual friendship.

So, how about some more gushing? Westerfeld has created a superb world, an alternate world of steampunk technology and inventive science, with a wealth of detail and imagination. But it would be a hollow world if the characters and the story weren't equally as entrancing. Oh, and Westerfeld gets extra points for including a THYLACINE!! (Well he is somewhat Australian, after all.) I love this animal, and it was great to see it in a story, finally.

Deryn is the kind of protagonist I instantly love - a tomboy in the best possible way, with a mouth full of slang and stable talk (often invented for the world), a quick mind and passion - in this case, a passion to be in the air service and serve on board the Leviathan. She has her flaws, but she's got so much spunk and bravery - and she doesn't fret or panic. True to her more humble upbringing, she provides the perfect counter-point to the palace-bred Alek, though he too rises to the occasion, learns from his mistakes and shows courage in a time of peril. He sometimes comes across as a tad sullen and spoilt, but he's also willing to admit his mistakes, apologise for them, or do what's right despite the dangers. And then when you get the two of them together, they're just great. Their personalities are vibrant but the details are subtle and come across in dialogue and action. There's not so much of that reflective instrospection (did I just make up a word there?) that's so prevalent in YA and which drives me nuts.

Aside from being a wonderful adventure novel in a highly creative world, Leviathan also presents some interesting themes on the nature of science, technology, ethics and attitudes and so on. The best stories for examining interesting themes like this are the ones that don't deal with them head-on. The ones that let them play out, that let the reader notice them, think about them, question their own thoughts and reactions. Books like, say, Fahrenheit 451 are great for what they do but are also deliberately obvious and in-your-face, which doesn't always leave much room for gaining perspective.

I could ramble on but I better not - I think you get how much I enjoyed this, yeah? I'm looking forward to the next book, Behemoth, with great anticipation!
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,290 reviews215 followers
June 9, 2018
Leviathan was so freaking good. Amazing even. The amount of world building and scientific shit were highly entertaining to listen to. However, I will admit that I still had moments of confusion and awe as well.

This book follows Prince Aleksander, who used to be a would-be heir but is now running for his life, and Deryn Sharp, who is a commoner disguised as a boy. These two were likable together and apart. Even though I liked both characters, things that were happening with or around Alek were a little confusing or frustrated. I just didn't understand why his people just couldn't let him in - ya know? Other than that he did kind of annoy me in the beginning because of his bratty attitude.

Then there was Deryn, and I was just freaking out for her the entire book because I didn't know what was going to happen once people found out her true identity. I was all over the place, emotionally wise, while listening to this. I also loved her from the very beginning and even after finishing this book. I'm about ready to dive into the next book just to see everyone all over again.

Then there were the clankers and beasties which made this book a little bit more interesting. However, the only thing I really cared about was what would happen once these two precious beings met each other. It took forever, in my opinion, for these two to meet. Once they did, they ended up being a great duo and fought for what they believed in. Again, I loved this book and these characters.

However, there's the one thing I disliked about this book. The ending. I have so many freaking questions right now. I cannot accept or wrap my head around that last chapter. I need answers stat people!

Profile Image for Mel (Epic Reading).
904 reviews274 followers
April 2, 2019
Scott Westerfeld's trilogy Leviathan has been on my print shelf to read for 6+ years. Perhaps it's because it was there so long collecting dust, or because I had too high of expectations. Or may it truly isn't all that great of a book. Whatever the reason I just could not get into it at all. I kept picking up every other book I was reading and avoiding it like the plague.

Middle Grade or Teen?
This trilogy is usually categorized in teen but I think it really belongs in Middle Grade fiction. There is something just a bit too juvenile about the whole thing. While our characters are younger teens that wasn't even the overall issue. It was more the way Westerfeld wrote the story. I'm not sure if it's categorized differently elsewhere but that is where my library and local bookstores put it. Maybe later in the trilogy it gains more of a teen feel (like how Harry Potter evolves) but based on this one book it's far too tame for the YA/teen genre and lacks a substance and emotion I expect from teen novels.

The best part about Leviathan is the beautiful pencil drawings throughout the book. I highly recommend a library print or purchased print copy so you can enjoy them. However you can certainly read the story without the illustrations on an e-reader and nothing in the story will be lost. The illustrations do help to imagine how large the whale that is the core of the Leviathan flying ship it. It also helps to imagine the large robots that are used by our lead boy. However if you've seen Star Wars then you'll likely have a good idea of what the steam machines look like.

We have two major players in Leviathan, one is a girl (pretending to be a boy) who is training to fly. The other is a boy who is a child of important political pawns and whom is on the run. Eventually, about 75% in, our two main characters meet. This was thankfully a turning point for me. Without this meeting I may have given up and not bothered to finish. Acknowledging that Leviathan got better once the two characters were together, I appreciate that this may mean that the next two books are greatly improved as our characters stick together. But for me I just don't care enough to know what even happens to these two.
There are a multitude of characters that surround our major two players. Yet each of them is, at best, an archetype and at worse a cardboard cutout that plays a role to move the plot forward and nothing else. The one interesting person is a woman 'bowler' (scientist essentially) whom is looked down upon for being a woman and yet revered for being rich and smart. Maybe this was a piece of my distaste for this book was it's clear and obvious gender bias against women.

The Animals
Before you get all hung up on what I'm about to say... yes this is clearly fiction, I am aware of that. However the idea of humans manipulating genes and breeding animals to be used to fly ships, repair other animals, use up hydrogen and other oddities that are mixed up in this half steam, half natural environment bothered me. I know it shouldn't but it did. Perhaps Westerfeld describes his animals too well. Or the illustrations of the animals made them too real for me. All I know is the first time we see the Leviathan flying ship I wasn't impressed by the description (or picture); instead all I thought was that poor, poor whale all tethered up and forced to fly! As our animals are not sentient there is just no way to know if they like what they are engaged in. It just felt wrong to me more than once. This may be that Westerfeld wants the reader to 'choose a side' and select the technological solution over the Darwin one (as it is called in the book). Regardless it made me uncomfortable and I couldn't get over it.

As a lover of steampunk I was very excited for this to be a solid trilogy that I could gift out to teens or children. I had hoped it would inspire using scientific principles in a creative way. And while it demonstrates that new technology is a blend of creativity and science, overall it just feel short of any real impact for me. Between flat characters and a slow moving plot I just didn't see the appeal. And while I liked that there was both a lead girl and boy in Leviathan, Westerfeld seemed to miss capturing either character in a compelling and enchanting way. Add in the animals that seemed like slaves and poor conceived steam technology; and you'll find that I just can't find anything really good to say here.
But the illustrations are truly amazing. So at least you can look at the pretty pictures and then move on without spending too much time here.
Profile Image for YouKneeK.
644 reviews78 followers
May 18, 2019
Leviathan is the first book in a young adult steampunk trilogy. Although it does have a young feel to it, and the story is straight-forward and a bit predictable, it was actually a vey fun, light read. I haven’t read a lot of steampunk, so I hadn’t read anything quite like this story, and I think that helped keep me interested.

The story is set right at the beginning of World War I on an alternate version of our Earth where technology has developed a bit differently. DNA was discovered earlier, leading to the creation of genetically engineered “beasties” such as living war machines that function a lot like hot air balloons, and lizards that can be used to deliver recorded messages. Other countries have spurned such creations as unnatural and have instead developed “mechanikal" creations such as war machines as tall as trees, with legs that can walk or run more efficiently over rough terrain than something with treads.

The story alternates between the third-person POV of two main characters who are around fifteen. Alek is an Austrian prince whose family is at the center of the conflict that kicks off World War I, in a similar manner to the real war. Deryn is a British girl who disguises herself as a boy to join the British Air Service. Both characters were very likeable. Deryn is spunky and fun, maybe a bit too good at everything that matters, but easy to cheer for. Alek has lived a more protected life and makes a lot of mistakes, but his ability to acknowledge those mistakes and try to do better made him a character I could appreciate and sympathize with.

This was just a light, fun read, perfect if you’re in the mood for something that isn’t very demanding. I imagine teenagers and possibly some younger children would also enjoy it. It has some war-related violence that isn’t described in any particularly gory detail, but otherwise I didn’t notice anything that I would imagine many people finding objectionable, either for themselves or for their children. I’m not always the best person to gauge that kind of thing, though.

This first book doesn’t have a proper ending. It doesn’t end on a cliff hanger in the sense that anybody’s life is in immediate peril at the end, but there were a lot of plot threads left hanging. I plan to continue on with the series. I’ll be traveling next week for a business conference, so something lighter like this may actually be perfect timing. I’m much more distracted while reading in public, at airports, on airplanes, etc., and more tired than normal in the evenings once I get back to my hotel, so simpler stories are often a good choice for me when I travel.
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