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Leviathan Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 6, 2009
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From School Library Journal
Starred Review. Grade 7 Up—This is World War I as never seen before. The story begins the same: on June 28, 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated, triggering a sequence of alliances that plunges the world into war. But that is where the similarity ends. This global conflict is between the Clankers, who put their faith in machines, and the Darwinists, whose technology is based on the development of new species. After the assassination of his parents, Prince Aleksandar's people turn on him. Accompanied by a small group of loyal servants, the young Clanker flees Austria in a Cyklop Stormwalker, a war machine that walks on two legs. Meanwhile, as Deryn Sharp trains to be an airman with the British Air Service, she prays that no one will discover that she is a girl. She serves on the Leviathan, a massive biological airship that resembles an enormous flying whale and functions as a self-contained ecosystem. When it crashes in Switzerland, the two teens cross paths, and suddenly the line between enemy and ally is no longer clearly defined. The ending leaves plenty of room for a sequel, and that's a good thing because readers will be begging for more. Enhanced by Thompson's intricate black-and-white illustrations, Westerfeld's brilliantly constructed imaginary world will capture readers from the first page. Full of nonstop action, this steampunk adventure is sure to become a classic.—Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO END
"Full of nonstop action, this steampunk adventure is sure to become a classic." -- starred, School Library Journal--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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In short, this was a wonderful read. The novel follows two teens from both Powers who struggle to keep their identities a secret while the world goes to war. While there was lots of action and plot, the end of the book was totally left open for a sequel. Fortunately, the trilogy is all published and I even made sure my local library had the next two books! The writing is really cheeky. The dialogue matched each character beautifully. Alek, our Austrian prince, is such a strong character. He suffers great loss and doesn't get time to deal with his grief. Deryn, our British main character, is just as strong. Her strength and determination is different from Alek. She is determined to be the best air serviceman, she can be.
If you enjoy crazy technology, hydrogen sniffing dogs with two snouts, and a great story about finding yourself, Leviathan is a wonderful choice. Oh! that reminds me! Interspersed throughout this whole novel are wonderful illustrations done by Keith Thompson. The illustrations are so detailed and bring the novel to life!
The duel story of Deryn and Alek really captures the mind. I loved the references to real world events and the quick comparison between his book and the real story of The Great War makes me want to research more about WWI so I'm more prepared for the references while reading the next book in the series.
There's a bunch of great tension in both storylines and I was so excited when the two finally crossed paths, despite the difficulties they faced while crossing paths.
If I had to nitpick a problem, I'd say it's the disjointed way the time jumps in the individual storylines as they move forward before they meet up. There would be parts where some grand future adventure would be hinted at only to have it ripped away from the reader to jump to some several weeks in the future. I'm sure the plan was to get the characters in the single storyline as soon as possible, but it was a bit jarring.
Overall though, I fell in love with this world and the characters and I'm eagerly looking forward to getting to the next book in the series.
Deryn Sharp enlisted in the British Air Service disguised as a boy. Deryn is not afraid to fly; she's witty, smart, and very creative in her ways of getting around the ship. It's her quick thinking that saves two of her crew mates, and herself when the Leviathan goes down after being severely damaged. She's woken up by a strange boy who seems to have appeared out of nowhere, bringing medicine and supplies for the stranded crew. As he refuses to say where he came from, she has no choice but to take him hostage!
Much talking and promise keeping will be made before these two see eye to eye. Deryn suddenly feels like this strange, well mannered boy, should know she's really a girl. But there's no time for that! The German airships will be closing in on them soon, and they have to fix the Leviathan. Full of beasties, action, and machines, Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan is steampunk at its most creative!
The world building blew me away, with the Clankers on one side and the Darwinists on the other I never new what to expect! What new beastie or machine would make it's appearance at the turn of a page. It was especially delightful to have Keith Thompson's illustrations along the way. I swear, I read faster and faster just to get to all the drawings! Charming characters abound, starting with our heroes Deryn and Alek. They're both young, brave, and a little bit reckless. The story is told in alternating chapters between these two, and I liked that I could always distinguish whose chapter it was by the language used. Deryn curses a lot, Alek--being a prince and all--is more formal. I love how by the end of this book they've both achieved considerable growth and learned from their ordeals. Dr. Barlow and Tazza were also favorite characters, and I hope to see more of them in the other books, because I'm sure she is hiding some very classified info. Other characters that stayed with me were the messenger lizards, the fléchette bats, Huxleys, and the Leviathan itself!
Fast paced and full of action, Leviathan is book one of the series and I'm already buzzing with energy for the other two books...which better arrive home soon! I can't wait to be immersed once more in this steampunk world Mr. Westerfeld has created. Because it truly is a thing of wonder!