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message 1: by Dlmrose (new)

Dlmrose | 17400 comments Mod
This is the discussion thread for the winter 2011 Group Read Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. Please post your comments here. This thread is not restricted to those choosing this book for task 20.10, feel free to join in the discussion. Warning- spoilers ahead!


message 2: by Dlmrose (new)

Dlmrose | 17400 comments Mod
I enjoyed this. I think it was a strong start to the planned series, but I wished it had more of a story arc of its own. There was lots of setup and plenty of action, but it was all moving toward the next books. The organic elements were very intriguing and more interesting than the mechanical. The illustrations really enhanced this book. It could have been a little darker; maybe more introspective- hopefully, the next books develop this opportunity into more of a coming-of-age tale. War and death were treated casually- it all seemed like a grand adventure. I might read the next books, but I will recommend them to my 11 year-old niece (the books may even end up under the Xmas tree this year)


message 3: by Mrs.soule (new)

Mrs.soule (mrssoule) I agree with Dlmrose about the need for a more complete story arch - but I really enjoyed this book and will add the next to my TBR list! I listened to the audio version (so I missed the illustrations, bummer). I enjoyed the "Darwinian" take on steampunk with human-manipulated evolution resulting in animals substituting machines and then the British Darwinists were a counter-culture to those relying soley on machinery (the Clankers).


message 4: by Dlmrose (last edited Dec 05, 2011 05:25PM) (new)

Dlmrose | 17400 comments Mod
You can see the illustrations at Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan page. Scroll down to see some, others are at the links to Keith Thompson art. The map is pretty amazing.


message 5: by Sandra (new)

Sandra (sandra72) | 726 comments This is my first book ever in the steampunk genre but definately not the last. I enjoyed the historical background as well as all the descriptions of the fabricated animals. This book was more of a setup for the following books so at times I found the story a little lacking but I look forward to reading the next book in the series. I'm trying to find a series that my 12 year old would like and I think this would be perfect for him.


message 6: by Mrs.soule (new)

Mrs.soule (mrssoule) Dlmrose wrote: "You can see the illustrations at Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan page. Scroll down to see some, others are at the links to Keith Thompson art. The map is pretty amazing."

Thanks! I shared the site with my husband since he listened very patiently while I tried to describe Darwinists vs Clankers, lol.


message 7: by Meghanly (new)

Meghanly | 325 comments It took me a few pages into the book to figure out what alternate history we were in - when I finally realized an archduke had been assassinated, my US History class came rushing back and I , of course, realized it was a version of WWI. I thoroughly enjoyed Westerfeld's VIVID imagination. The description of Clankers vs. Beasties - in fact, the very idea of the Darwinists creating ecosystems of life to be used as they did - completely intrigued me. This and this alone will most likely lead me to read the next book in the series.

The biggest detractor for me was, oddly, the age of the two protagonists. Westerfeld described them as being 15 or 16... but didn't they seem to act younger? 11, 12 at the most? I don't know, just the dialogue and the interactions with each other read... young. Maybe it's just me.

All in all, a fun little venture into steampunk, my first by the way. I hope to travel this way again!


message 8: by Soelo (last edited Dec 09, 2011 09:00PM) (new)

Soelo | 118 comments (Soelo)
I don't think I would have read this book if I'd only read the summary, but I picked it over the other two Group Reads picks for this season and I am glad I did. I have been reading lots of YA series lately and now I have another to add to my list. I liked the arc of the story and somehow knew it would end in a cliff-hanger.


message 9: by Coralie (new)

Coralie | 2023 comments I would probably enjoy just about any book with airships and thylacines in it. However, I couldn't quite believe in the clanker machines on legs; they just seemed such an unlikely development. I thought it should have ended at the end of chapter thirty-nine. I don't like cliff-hangers in books. I feel that every book should be sufficient in itself.


message 10: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne Pringle I just finished it. I really liked it. It got a little confusing at times describing the various Darwinism creatures.

The story line was well put together. I did't like how they kept going back and forth between Alek and Deryn but that is cause I just get into the story and boom I have to wait till next chapter.

very good read overall.


message 11: by Valorie (last edited Dec 26, 2011 05:13PM) (new)

Valorie  | 824 comments I actually liked this story. I'm not a fan of very many YA books, but this one seemed more fantasy-ish instead of the usual high school angst, etc. that normally annoys me. I do love the steampunk genre so that probably helped quite a bit. All in all a pretty good story.


message 12: by Midu (new)

Midu Hadi | 903 comments Amazing book! I finished it in no time and can't wait to start the next one. The beasties blew me away!


message 13: by ♥Meagan♥ (last edited Dec 23, 2011 06:10PM) (new)

♥Meagan♥ (fadedrainbows) | 104 comments I agree with what the others said about a lack of story arc. I found it hard to keep reading because I felt like there was no point. There was not much happening, so I did not want to know more.

I did love the world. I love Deryn as a character. I LOVED the illustrations, they made the book for me in my opinion.

I also loved the beasties and the Clankers. I love the different technology and how it was explained away. It worked for me, and made quite a bit of sense.

I have picked up the second book and will be reading it to see where it heads.


message 14: by Sandy (new)

Sandy | 15618 comments Mod
I guess I'm in the minority on this one, but I found it fairly boring. The lack of much of a story made it lacking for me, and I'm not interesting in technology enough for that to carry it along for me.


message 15: by Elizabeth (NC) (last edited Dec 27, 2011 07:55AM) (new)

Elizabeth (NC) | 185 comments I finished this one a couple of days ago and did not really enjoy it--I may find myself reading the next couple at some point, but they are not high on my TBR pile. A few years ago, I read Mister Monday and the others in the series by Garth Nix. This one seemed a little too close to that with the invention of different living creatures and it was also a little too formulaic for me.
I did enjoy Uglies also by Westerfeld (which someone else said they hated) and I liked it a lot more than this one--but I didn't enjoy the rest of that series as much as the first one. I think this would be good as an introduction to steampunk for younger kids--maybe upper elementary or middle school. I agree that the protagonists seemed really young.

I love YA adult and keep looking for the next series that will grab me and really feel original--I recently read Divergent and while lots of people loved it, I felt that is was too predicable--oh well, the quest continues.


message 16: by Gayla (new)

Gayla Bassham (sophronisba) Sandy wrote: "I guess I'm in the minority on this one, but I found it fairly boring. The lack of much of a story made it lacking for me, and I'm not interesting in technology enough for that to carry it along f..."

I also thought it was pretty boring. Little plot, and the characters were by no means interesting enough to carry the book by themselves.

I do think my boys might be enthralled enough by the creatures to enjoy it, though.

I agree with whoever said upthread that the illustrations were cool -- I really loved that little touch.


message 17: by JennRenee (new)

JennRenee (jennreneeread) | 1332 comments This book started out a little slow for me by after about 1/4 of the book I was hooked. I enjoyed it more than I though it would and do plan to finish out the series. (makes my hubby very happy). I hope the next book does get more into the story as I saw this one as more of a set up.


message 18: by Megan (new)

Megan Anderson (ms_anderson) | 1481 comments I enjoyed this book and want to see what happens next, but it wasn't the best one I've read all challenge. It's a little predictable, and I found myself checking page numbers more often as the story went on, just to see when it would end. I don't remember that happening to me while reading any of Westerfeld's other books.

The art was gorgeous, though, even if it didn't always mesh with my own mental images of the beasties or mechs.

Not too terrible, and I'd definitely recommend it to my students.


message 19: by Laurie (new)

Laurie | 878 comments I also enjoyed this book and it's alternative take on this era of history. I'll definitely be adding the next book in the series to my TBR list.

The action was good, fast paced but the story line was a bit weak until the end when Alek's identity became an issue. In general, it was a fast easy read which would be really great for middle school students.


Angie (Literary Labors) (angie) | 126 comments This one started off slow, but it picked up somewhere near the middle. The Darwinian creations were a bit much for me--I mean, bats that defecate sharp objects? That has to be...painful. And how long can a whale survive with an army (air force?) of men living and fighting all over it? Several things were a bit too farfetched, but, despite all that, it had many good things going for it: lots of imagination, well-written characters, and colorful language (from Deryn Sharp in particular).


message 21: by Liora (new)

Liora (chinquapin) | 0 comments There was a tremendous amount of fascinating and bizarre worldbuilding in this book. The story itself was rather simple, but it was made much more interesting by the unusual, complicated and yes, far-fetched, world. I agree that the Leviathan seemed beyond possible, even for a fantasy novel. I liked the contrast between the characters of Alec and Deryn, in personality and also in their lifestyles. I am definitely going to move on to the next one in the series.


message 22: by BJ Rose (new)

BJ Rose (bjrose) | 822 comments I'm at the halfway point and, although there have been some interesting & exciting passages, I'm still waiting for the story to grab me. At the moment, Deryn is escorting Dr.Barlow to the bees through the inner passages of the Leviathan - gives a whole new meaning to "in the guts of the ship"!


message 23: by BJ Rose (new)

BJ Rose (bjrose) | 822 comments This is definitely a YA book that is meant for younger readers. I couldn't get past the 'ick' factor of the makeup of the Leviathan and its many fabricated creatures, altho this is exactly the kind of thing that appeals to middle-schoolers. When I'm reading a fantasy, I don't expect the possible, so the farfetched ideas didn't faze me, but I need a story that draws me in. Altho it did come together mid-book, this one just didn't do it for me, and it's unlikely that I'll continue the series.


message 24: by KarenF (new)

KarenF (cleocleveland) | 274 comments I ended up enjoying this one more than I thought I would. I agree that some of the fabricated creatures made me uncomfortable (whales are intelligent and emotional creatures - I felt for it while under attack). And it seems like the author was a little in love with his own creations both biological and mechanical and the details got to be too much at times. But I love this era in history and feel that it's very underrepresented in fiction so I was glad to read about it in any form. I also liked the Deryn got to have her own adventure since the girl is so often relegated to the "brainy sidekick" role. In the last half things got rolling and there were less detailed descriptions and I felt like the story really picked up. I'll probably pick up the next one at some point just to see what happens but I'm not burning rubber to run out and read it.


message 25: by Christie (last edited Jan 26, 2012 12:47PM) (new)

Christie Like many others on this thread, I really enjoyed this book. It is quite unique and entertaining. And for someone who loves history, the story arc involving both real and fictional historical events drew me in. The plot did move a little slowly, but I felt like it kept my interest well enough and prepared me for reading, and indeed made me want to read, the following two books. The illustrations were also a welcome change from many of the books I've been reading lately, especially with such new machines and creatures being described in the text.


message 26: by Cathy (new)

Cathy Galloway | 700 comments While this story was a bit slow to start, I enjoyed all the details. I love alternative histories and I enjoy seeing the details that were historically accurate. I agree with others that the characters seemed a bit immature (16 year old playing with toy soldiers?) but the dialogue between the two was entertaining. Hopefully, the next two books will be able to move more quickly, now that the background has been established. I will certainly be reading the remainder of the trilogy.


message 27: by Bea (last edited Feb 05, 2012 04:09AM) (new)

Bea | 3823 comments This is my first read in the steampunk genre, and I was amazed at how very much I enjoyed it! I loved the mix of historical elements, fantastical creatures, and the machines. I identified quickly with tomboy Deryn and loved the comment early on about "what would a boy do?" when she was trying to decide the right course of action while passing as a boy. I could just feel the dilemma.

The ending left me wanting to know if Dr. Barlow completed her mission, what creature was in the eggs, whether Alek and his friends escaped, and was Deryn's true identity discovered. So...on to the next book. There is a next book, isn't there?


message 28: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 7515 comments yeah there are - the next one is Behemoth and then Goliath


message 29: by Bea (new)

Bea | 3823 comments Dee wrote: "yeah there are - the next one is Behemoth and then Goliath"

OK, added to my TBR as I just have to see where the adventure goes. Thanks, Dee.


message 30: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 7515 comments i'm planning on reading them as well - i should finish up Leviathan today


message 31: by Helen (new)

Helen Southall (hsouthall) | 359 comments I listened to the audio version of this book and loved it. It converted well to this form and that helped keep the story moving. The reader was excellent as he kept jumping from the almost cockney speech of Deryn to the very clipped and precise Prussian accented English of Alek. It gave the characters a lot of depth - almost a play-like format.

Have read very little steampunk - by the way, where did that term orignate? Will definitely read more in the future. I really liked the alternative history of WW I -- it seems this era gets shortchanged by its successor WW II.

Have already ordered Behemoth - second in the series - on CD from the library. Now must go to that website by the author to look at the pictures of those innovative creatures - both beastie and clanker.


message 32: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 7515 comments http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steampunk - here's the wiki entry for steampunk!

I got to finish this book! I get involved in it for a while, and then start to fall asleep so I put it down and then get completely distracted by my other books...lol!


message 33: by Denise (new)

Denise | 213 comments This was my second foray into steampunk. Unfortunatley, I did not enjoy the book. I found myself losing interest, putting the book down, and having to force myself to pick it up to finish it. The last part of the book started to pick up some "steam", but it was not enough that I feel compelled to read the next book in the series to see what happens next.


message 34: by Dee (new)

Dee (austhokie) | 7515 comments i'm in 2 minds about it, when I was reading the book I was willing to sacrifice time to read more...but the minute I put it down, I found other stuff that was as interesting. I liked Deryn and Alek - and can't wait to see what happens next, but i probably won't buy the books, i'll get them from the library or try the audiobook (like someone above did). I did like the take on the alternate history, where he kept just enough of it alike that you knew what he was talking about


message 35: by Amanda A (new)

Amanda A (carolinabookworm) | 614 comments I have read steampunk before but this is my first YA steampunk. In the end, I liked this one more than I thought I would. The first part of the book was boring to me. I'm usually not all that interested in technology but became more intrigued after I got used to all of the terminology. I did not like the cliffhanger ending and wish there was more of a resolution to this book. The illustrations, however, were wonderful. I won't be rushing to get the next book from the library, but might pick it up at some point.


message 36: by Kayleigh (new)

Kayleigh Creates (kayleigh_creates) | 315 comments I read this book purely because I had already read the other two options. I can honestly say that it will be that last I read of this genre. While I can appreciate the quality of the writing and especially those illustrations (WOW), it just isn't my type of storyline.


Jayme(the ghost reader) (jaymeiltheghostreader) | 2966 comments This is the first time I have read steampunk. Until recently, I didn't know what this genre was. I work in a high school, and it came highly recommended among the school librarian and my students. I liked the fact it was historically based and on the cusp of World War I. I studied it in school but now I don't remember much of the details about it. I like the fact, they went into the history. I liked the characters of Alek, Deryn and Dr. Barlow. I also liked the the afterward and found out Dr. Barlow was a real person. I liked how they had Darwinists versus Clankers to show naturists vs machine. I didn't think it had much of a plot and it ended abruptly. I will probably read the next one but niot right away.


message 38: by Marla (new)

 Marla | 2 comments I read Leviathan as a grade school librarian to screen the content. It was a simple story and a bit slow to develop, but the Darwinist creatures vs. Clankers machines was an interesting twist. I liked Deryn/Dylan and Alek and Dr. Barlow a little less, but the strong feminine characters was nice to see.

I also read Behemoth and Goliath and I liked Behemoth the best of the 3 books. I would give the whole series 3.75 stars. I was a little disappointed at the end of the series, but they were fairly easy reads, if a little slow, and there are more interesting creatures in each book.


message 39: by Jayalalita (new)

Jayalalita devi dasi (lonelylorelei) | 87 comments I haven't read much steampunk, but I what I have read seems to have wonderfully spunky female characters, which is something I appreciate, and this book is no exception. I loved that Deryn was tough enough and could swagger along in such a way to pass as a boy, and this was convincingly portrayed-- she never let up the ruse to act "girly" for the sake of the reader. She was strong physically and mentally, and as ready to rumble (or moreso) as her male associates.

I also found the concept of genetically engineered "beasties" interesting and entertaining-- living, thinking animals taking the place of machines in labor, making the air clean, and changing the way society works. It didn't seem entirely fair to the critters, though, but I suppose that's nothing new!

And I want a pet thylacine!


message 40: by Becky (new)

Becky (ragamuffin_child) | 68 comments I forgot to post last night when I got home, so I don't know if this counts anymore.

I enjoyed Leviathan; I thought the premise of two separate scientific worldviews was quite interesting, and that it was hooked to a real historical event (WWI) was nice for history teachers. I always like alternate history. I wasn't sure how all middle-school readers would take it -- my students wouldn't be able to understand it -- but it was engaging. I've requested the other two at my library. :)


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