From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up–This book continues the hard-driving, action-packed adventures of Alek, heir to the throne of the Austrian empire and current British prisoner of war, and Deryn Sharp, a midshipman assigned to the Leviathan. Their loyalties to their respective governments and philosophies are tested as their friendship grows; Alek is an Austrian Clanker and Deryn an English Darwinist. After the Leviathan is damaged by a German attack, Alek and his personal guard escape the airship and join a revolutionary group dedicated to the overthrow of the sultan of Istanbul. Meanwhile Deryn has been sent to sabotage a key military blockade in the Istanbul harbor. But true havoc doesn't ensue until the teens are reunited. This dynamite novel incorporates factual events of the early months of World War I: the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, Churchill's confiscation of an Ottoman Empire warship, and the instability and revolution within the Empire. However, the elements of steampunk, biological and mechanical technology, sheer over-the-top adventure, and great storytelling make this a must-have addition to any speculative fiction collection. Thompson's sumptuous full-page illustrations capture the goings-on and contribute to the cinematic feel of the book.Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK
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Things slow down just a wee bit in this sequel to the WWI alt-history Leviathan (2009). Here, the focus shifts more onto wartime politicking than smash-dash battling, but Westerfeld maintains a steady influx of the series’ real strength—the superbly imagined mechanical contraptions and genetically crafted creatures. The bulk of the story takes place in Istanbul, as both the Clankers (Austria-Hungary and Germany) and Darwinists (England and Russia) are intent on swaying the Ottoman Empire in their favor. British midshipman Deryn (still disguised as a boy) and Prince Alek (heir-in-hiding to the throne of Austria-Hungary) continue to find themselves squarely in the thick of things en route to a nicely tied-together climax featuring the title beastie. Anyone needing a good visual for what makes steampunk so alluring should look no further than Thompson’s intricate illustrations—black, white, and gray rarely look so vivid. Although there are messages about the futility of war and a burgeoning love story, this is first and foremost a high-concept action series, and Westerfeld knows how to pound a pulse while tickling the imagination. Grades 7-10. --Ian Chipman