Author: Scott Westerfeld
Series: The Leviathan Trilogy, book one
Rating: Five out of five stars
Alek is a prince without a throne. On the run from his own people,
he has only a fighting machine and a small band of men.
Deryn is a girl disguised as a guy in the British Air Service. She
must fight for her cause – and protect her secret – at all costs.
Alek and Deryn are thrown together aboard the mighty airship Leviathan. Though
fighting side by side, their worlds are far apart. British fabricated beasts
versus German steam-powered war machines. They are enemies with everything to
lose, yet somehow destined to be together.
And just like Rachel, how do I review this with no bias? What's a review without a little bias anyway? All I can say is that I absolutely LOVED this book.
Leviathan is set in an alternate past, during the beginnings of World War I. While Westerfeld has incorporated bits of history into his storyline, most of the elements are false. The theme of the book is "steampunk", or a mix of past and future elements – the era of the war, mixed with technology that is too far advanced for the time. Heck, I don't think we have Walkers even today. And we definitely don't have 'beasties.' It focuses on Alek and Deryn, two fifteen year old kids in the middle of the beginning of World War I, both on opposing sides. Alek is.. how shall I say?.. a 'half-prince', so to speak, whose parents were assassinated and is now on the run, attempting to stay alive to one day take the throne of Austria-Hungary. Deryn is a girl in disguise on the Leviathan, a massive airship that's actually a fabricated beast. After a series of events, the Leviathan crashes in the snowy mountaintops of Switzerland, and Alek comes to their rescue, despite being the enemy. Deryn and Alek eventually strike up an uneasy alliance that turns into the beginnings of a friendship. And because one is a guy and the other really a girl, she can't help but have feelings for him.
Oh, the complications of love.
I really don't have many words on this book other than "amazing", "loved it" and "I can't wait for September for the third book to come out!" I normally wouldn't read something that's forefront element isn't romance, but Westerfeld has this way and style that allows other elements to glue the book to your hands and still have that desired emotional conflict within the pages.
I enjoy steampunk-themed works, so why I thought I might not like it was just silly. I'm absolutely fascinated with the Industrial Revolution era – the inventions and style most of all. The creatures and machines in Leviathan definitely fit under the "fascinating" category. The descriptions of them are really something to think about, things that seem difficult to imagine because nothing like them exists. That's where the illustrations in the book come in extremely handy. I was mesmerized by the drawings, seeing what the illustrator's take on Westerfeld's description looked like. It was wonderful.
Overall, I recommend this book – and the entire trilogy, for that matter. Behemoth, the second book, was just as riveting, though I probably won't do a review on it because it'd be me repeating myself – as one you should definitely have in your repertoire. Past and future, elegance and industry.
Seriously the BEST couple of books I've read this year. I cannot recommend it highly enough.