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Leviathan (The Leviathan Trilogy) Paperback – August 10, 2010
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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Full of nonstop action, this steampunk adventure is sure to become a classic." -- starred, School Library Journal--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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For the most part, I listened to the audio book, even though I happen to have picked up both the audio and Kindle editions during two different promotions. I really enjoyed this book a lot. Despite the war-time and technological advancement politics, the book kept a nice pace. I did get really tired of Deryn's favorite insult, "bumrag," very quickly. Most of the other "cursing" consists of phrases like, "barking spiders!" which I found whimsical and refreshing. I liked this book well enough that I will probably listen to or read book two (once I pick it some time after I've cleared up more of my Audible-Kindle slush pile).
The book contains illustrations that were very nice. I flipped through the Kindle edition at some point and looked at all of them. Early on in listening to this book on the Amazon Echo, the Echo activated itself when Cumming would read the phrase, "Alek said." I found it amusing,,but others may not. I didn't notice do so a lot as the book progressed, though. Alan Cumming was a really fine narrator for this story and really enjoyed his performance very much. There were a couple of times I had to adjust the audio level because he would drop his voice a bit, but that's my only quibble.
Overall, I recommend this book--and audio book--quite highly. This could open up some great familial or classroom discussions about history and the opposing technology (machines or engineered creatures). The authors' afterword (which is in both the the Audible edition and Kindle edition) is really interesting and covers the historical events vs. his fictional ones a bit and could lead to further exploration.
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 book follows a young girl who sneaks into the Royal Navy as a boy and ends up serving on a living airship engineered from whale “heredity strings” and the son of the slain Archduke. The action is steady, the characters three-dimensional, the dialog (and terminology) interesting, and the plot plausible. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Westerfeld’s world, and I am very much looking forward to starting the second book in the series tomorrow. If you are at all interested in Steampunk, I highly recommend this book. You won’t be disappointed.
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Leviathan is an alternative history of World War I. It follows the timeline of the fallout from the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand.Read more