Kate's Reviews > Leviathan

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
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's review
Nov 17, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2010, age-ya, historical-fiction, steampunk, teen-book-club
Recommended to Kate by: Teen Book Club selection

Alek, the son of the Archduke of Austria in 1914, is taken by two of his teachers in the dead of night, purportedly to practice driving a stormwalker, a type of Clanker war machine. Alek has never driven anything so big, nor at night, but he's up for the challenge - until he realizes he has been virtually kidnapped. In a political conspiracy, his parents have been killed, starting what in our world would have been World War I. In this world, a war is still brewing, but there are a few notable differences, the Clanker machines used by the Austrians and Germans being one. Deryn Sharpe, also known as Dylan Sharpe, is a girl who is pretending to be a boy so she could join the British Air Force and fly airbeasts, genetically modified creatures as big as zeppelins, living creatures bred to be war machines. After being rescued from flying a creature similar to a flying jellyfish, Deryn finds herself aboard the biggest ship of them all, the Leviathan, which is on its way to the Ottoman Empire on a secret mission. A surprise attack and crash landing brings Alek and Deryn's vastly different worlds together.

I wasn't sure I would like this, but I wanted to try something "steampunk" and I was surprised to be really interested in this story. There were a lot of opposites here, which Alek, a member of the royal family trying to be a commoner, and Deryn, a commoner trying to be a boy, and the Darwinist philosophy versus the Clankers. There were a lot of interesting characters who I think will be fleshed out even more in other books in this series. I also liked that there was some real history mixed in with the new stuff.

This is very different from Westerfeld's Uglies series, and his book Peeps. The worlds are completely different and I might even say that the writing styles differs between all of these. However, his ability to concoct new ways of speaking, even new words, and seamlessly integrate them and make them sound authentic is at work in this book as well (and it wasn't quite as grating as some of the vocabulary in Uglies).
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