Friday, July 23, 2010

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Genre: YA Fantasy/Sci Fi/Steampunk
Series: Leviathan Book 1
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 440
Book Source: Own Purchase

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

Like nothing I've read before, Leviathan was my first foray into Steampunk literature, a sub-genre I didn't know existed until doing a little research. Scott Westerfeld explains steampunk in his afterward as "blending future and past" and oh what an imaginative blending this is. Kind of Star Wars meets Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; slightly weird, fantastical and highly adventurous.

Set at the beginning of WWI, Leviathan showcases the parallel stories of Alek and Deryn, teens on opposite sides in the battle between the Clankers (Germany & Austria-Hungary) and the Darwinists (Britian/France.) I bought this book on a whim & a few rave reviews, and knowing very little about the premise of the novel it took me a while to catch on. A whale airship, messenger lizards, hydrogen sniffing dogs, flying jellyfish, stormwalkers, and zepplins; machines and fabricated beasties, quite the contrast.

In this audio version the narration was captivating. I loved Deryn's accent and amusing eloquence "And a special thanks for not burning up the whole ship. Including yourself, you daft bum-rag" and "barking spiders." For me though, Alek didn't hold the same appeal as a character as Deryn. The long descriptive passages on the workings of machinery and beastie would normally bore me to tears but I guess the novelty factor kept me reading. The audio is possibly not the wisest choice if this is your first experience with this subgenre but that aside this was an entertaining read outside my comfort zone and I'm keenly awaiting the continuation of the story with Behemoth.

Leviathan in paperback is due for release August 2010 and Behemoth the second installment in the trilogy will be out in October 2010. Visit Scott Westerfeld's awesome website to find out more about this author and his work and check out the amazing Leviathan artwork courtesy of illustrator Keith Thompson.

PS: the book trailer is a good one :-)

This month on The Eclectic Reader one lucky reader can win Linger OR Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage OR The Confessions of Catherine de Medici OR Eternal on the Water. Check this blog post for details. International entrants welcome


  1. I am struggling with my first venture into steam punk as I am trying to read Boneshaker and I just can't get into it. I wonder if perhaps steampunk isn't for me. I nearly bought Leviathan yesterday, but thought I might need to finish Boneshaker first to see if it is my thing.

  2. I LOOOOVED this book beyond reason. It was one sent to me by a publisher otherwise I would have never read it. It was my first foray into Steampunk as well! I think that the audio version would be great but would have its drawbacks. I was wanting to read Boneshaker as well, but after Vivienne's comment maybe I won't bother.

    I'm glad you liked it!

  3. I want to read this cos I like the author, and cos it just sounds so cool!

  4. Ah! Loved this. I have seen a couple comments around the blogosphere that they liked Deryn's voice better than Alek's, and I have to agree, though it didn't affect my enjoyment to any great degree. Glad you liked it.

    Vivienne: I couldn't really get into Boneshaker either, but no problems like that with Leviathan at all. Very entertaining, non-stop action, humor, etc.

    Nice review!

  5. I have this out from the library at the moment. It will be my first Westerfeld, and my first steampunk novel!

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  7. Whoa.This is new. I never read anything Steampunk yet but i have cail garriger books on my door step soon. wow..I think this is another trilogy that i'm going to love!

  8. I loved his Uglies series and this sounds fascinating. Will have to catch it. Well it is on the to do list anyway, one day I will get to it.

  9. It sounds good! I have yet to dip into this genre :)

  10. I bought this book recently after reading couple of reviews. I've to admit that I never read anything within this sub-genre either so I really hope that it suits my interest. Totally glad that enjoy the book and don't you agree that the illustrations in the book are simply superb?

  11. Wonderful and honest review, Teddyree. I think Levithian sounds like a good one, but I'm also abit sceptical that the genre steampunk might be a bit too technical for me *shrugs*

  12. Cool beans! I'm glad you liked this one. I will certainly pick it up then since it will also be my forst foray in to Steampunk. Thanks for the review!


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