Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld is one of the Teens’ Top Ten Nominations for 2010.
Leviathan is set in an alternate version of Europe in 1912 during World War I. Instead of a war between the Allies and the Central Powers, the conflict is between the Darwinists and the Clankers. Darwinists use science to create new beasts, or species, to help fight the war while Clankers use technology to build advanced machinery. The war starts the same way as it does historically, with the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife’s assassination, but from there the story takes off in a completely different direction.
The point of view flips back and forth between the two main characters of the novel, Prince Alek and Deryn Sharp. Prince Alek is the son of the Archduke (and a Clanker) and is forced to run away after the death of his parents to escape those who want him dead, too. Deryn Sharp is a girl who pretends to be a boy, in order to serve with the Darwinist British Air Service. She gets assigned as an airman on the Leviathan, which is a biologically created airship that looks like a large flying whale. The two meet when the Leviathan crashes in Switzerland and they are forced to work together to survive. Right when the lines between enemy and ally are blurred, Westerfeld cuts us off and we are forced to wait for the sequel, Behemoth, due out in October of this year.
When this book first came in it caught my eye because I am a fan of Scott Westerfeld, but I have to admit that when I read the summary I was not too excited about reading the book. I haven’t read much steampunk fiction and didn’t think it would really appeal to me. I was wrong. After reading a couple chapters I was really caught up in the story and hardly noticed how outlandish it was that Deryn was aboard a flying whale that carries a self-contained ecosystem in it. I was amazed at the alternate history/world that Westerfeld created and became completely caught up in the action. I was disappointed where the story cut off, but that is typical of most books with sequels.
To read more about the Teens’ Top Ten, click here. To request this book from Wake County Public Libraries, click here .Voting begins August 23, 2010 and ends September 17, 2010. To vote during these dates, click here.
Reviewed by Jane from Eva Perry Library