Sunday, November 15, 2009

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

I finished this book quite a while ago, but I kind of had to mull it over. After such a build up (I saw the illustrations in April), I think my expectations might have been out of whack. It's not that I didn't like it, more like it wasn't what I was expecting and without the sequels, I'm not completely sure how much I like it. Anyway, here's more of a review.

In an alternate history of WWI, the world is divided into Darwinists, who use gene manipulation to create animals to help with everyday tasks, and Clankers, who use machines for the same purpose. England, the US, Russia and most of Western Europe are Darwinists, while Germany, the Middle East and most of Eastern Europe are Clankers. At the start of the book, we meet Alek, the son of Duke Ferdinand of Austria, the famous duke whose assassination was the catalyst that led to WWI. In Leviathan this assassination was perpetrated not by Serbians but by Ferdinand's own family and people, in order to cause the war. So Alek must flee Austria with four of his father's most trusted men and hope to return in the future.

Meanwhile in London, Deryn (known as Dylan) has disguised herself as a boy and entered the Air Service to feed her love of flying. Through a series of strange circumstances, she finds herself aboard the Leviathan, England's greatest airship (and a modified whale). Soon Alek and Deryn meet and their fates intertwine.

I really liked Deryn and Alek, as well as some of the side characters, especially the Count and Dr. Barlow. It was so cool that there was a thylacine (tasmanian tiger) in the book; I want my own sniffer dog, too! Even the walkers and warships were pretty fascinating.

I liked the illustrations, but had two problems with them. First, while the map on the endpages was great and beautiful, I would have appreciated if one of them was more realistic than stylized, as it made following the action kind of difficult. Also, in all of the illustrations, both Deryn and Alek seemed much younger than 15, maybe closer to 12. That was a bit misleading....

While I really enjoyed the word-building of the story and I always love a gender-bender, this novel felt more like a set-up for future installments. So, maybe I'll wait to decide whether I liked it or not.

Reviewed from friend's copy. Thanks, Michelle!

1 comment:

Patti said...

I need to read this. For some reason I am strangely reluctant to pick it up! I guess I'm worried I won't like it.