Saturday, December 5, 2009

Leviathan (Leviathan, Book 1) By Scott Westerfeld (4/5 stars)

This is the first book in Westerfeld's Leviathan series; I got this book through the Amazon Vine program to review. Book 2 is going to be called "Behemeth" and is planned for an October 2010 release. Not sure how many books will be in the series total. Overall, I actually liked this book quite a bit better than the "Uglies" series. I liked the character development more and thought the world-building was very well done and believable despite some unbelievable aspects (Darwin discovering how to manipulate DNA right before World War I).

The story alternates between two different characters. The first is Alek; he is a fifteen year old Austrian prince whose parents have been assassinated by Germany to destroy the peace. He is forced to flee his home country as the German's seek to finish the job, by finishing off him. The second character is Deryn, a young British girl who has disguised herself as a boy named Dylan so that she can join the British Air Service instead of staying home acting the part of a young British lady. Through a series of adventures both characters end up embroiled in World War I; and eventually meet up later in the book.

At first Alek bothered me because he was so whiny, but his character actually matured quite a bit as the story progressed. I liked Deryn a lot, she has a lot of spunk and was an all-around fun character to read about. The plot itself plods along at a consistent pace, not too exciting but it never really gets boring either. There are some good action scenes too. The strength of this book was the fascinating world that Westerfeld creates. The Austrian/German Clunkers are giant machines the somewhat resemble John Christopher's Tripods. The British giant engineering beasts are actually somewhat futuristic in their abilities. There is definitely a Steampunk theme to this book.

The illustrations by Keith Thompson are very good. They really help the reader to visualize some of the more bizarre creatures that Westerfeld introduces.

Those people who like a complete story should beware. This book merely shows the beginning of Alek's and Deryn's journeys and has them meet up towards the end of the book. Basically nothing is resolved. The book doesn't leave you at a total cliff-hanger, but it definitely doesn't end in a satisfying way either. I really wished the book had a bit more closure, now I will have to wait until next October to figure out what happens next!

Overall a good book. Should be a great read for all ages. An interesting take on World War I and great world-building. I found the characters to be more interesting and engaging than those from the Uglies series. I can't wait to learn more about the science behind the British creations. Those who are interested in another good Steampunk young adult read should check out Boneshaker by Cherie Priest; this was a great read too.

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