Thursday, May 30, 2013

Leviathan book review~priddymomma

Hello readers!  Welcome to our first book review!  So glad you could make it.  This week, we’re discussing the first book in a trilogy, a book by the name of

By Scott Westerfeld
I read The Uglies series by Westerfeld and adored them all.  Well, maybe not Specials as much, but you get the idea.  He captivated my imagination with his ideas for the dystopian series.  I thought I'd really enjoy another series he had written, so I picked up Leviathan.

I’ll start you off with a quote:

“So Leviathan is as much about possible futures as alternate pasts.  It looks ahead to when machines will look like living creatures, and living creatures can be fabricated like machines.  And yet the setting also recalls an earlier time in which the world was divided into aristocrats and commoners, and women in most countries couldn’t join the armed forces-or even vote.  That’s the nature of steampunk, blending future and past.” ~Scott Westerfeld

That pretty much spells it out for you!  Leviathan is a steampunk novel set at the onslaught of WWI.  There are transformer-esque Clanker machines fighting with Darwinist mutant-hybrid animal fabrications TO THE DEATH!!!  Or whatever.  It’s WWI!  The characters are imagined (for the most part, though some are based on real historical figures), but the basic political motivations are the same as is believed in reality. 
illustration from

Our story begins in two parts, following young Deryn Sharp as she disguises herself as a boy in order to become a member of the British Air Service, and Aleksandar Ferdinand, whom is on the run for political reasons and just happens to be a prince to the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Naturally, the two near-enemies cross paths and life gets interesting.

Oh.  And there's a thylacine.  Gotta love those thylacines!
I rate this book three out of five stars.  It was good, but not fantastic.  I love the historical fiction genre.  It is such a great way to get kids (and adults!) interested in history.  This is also the first steampunk I’ve read.  I spent the first one hundred pages or so trying to visualize the creations I was reading about.  There are illustrations, but I still couldn’t really wrap my head around the concepts of these things.  Transformer-like Clanker machines are one thing; a genetically constructed whale air ship is something completely different!  Once the storyline started moving, I really started to get into it.  I balked a bit at the political lines running throughout (boring!), which is ironic since that was the part with the historical, and therefore educational, context. 

I was exactly the opposite from Tori with regards to favorite characters.  I started out liking Deryn much more than snobbish, pampered Alek, but Alek redeemed himself, and Deryn continued along her show-boatish ways.  I think Alek had the greater moral fiber between the two of them.  I do agree that the characters balance each other out, and as is inevitable with this type of novel, Deryn begins to fall for Alek.  She moons over him a bit.  I actually appreciate the fawning-over-a-boy episode, because she screws up because of it.  Wake up, daydreamers!

I will say the storyline was amazingly creative!  I have no idea how Westerfeld dreamed this up, but it is astonishing.  The way everything works together on the Leviathan air ship, for instance, right down to the bumblebees, is a work of art.

The ending was awful though.  It annoyed me to no end.  I’ve waited to type up this review before picking up the sequel.  Go ahead and give this novel a read!  I enjoyed it, and it was fairly funny at times.  I particularly enjoy the usage of “bumrag” as an insult.  It’s just so eloquent, doncha think? 

I hear a lot of people adore the cover art.  Perhaps I have no eye for art, but I didn’t find it particularly engaging.  What about you guys?  Have you read the book?  What are your thoughts?  Any bumrags out there? 

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