by Scott Westerfeld
Published on October 6, 2009 by Simon & Schuster
Genres: Historical, Steampunk, Young Adult
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Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.
Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.
With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.
Changed My Opinion: Any time I hear someone mention World War I, it makes me cringe because it seemed to be the only thing we ever discussed in my history classes. However, this book completely changed my opinion. Yes, it’s fiction but it made me rethink the war, strangely enough. The idea of having two groups, the Darwinists (Allies) and Clankers (Central Powers), is interesting in that it makes science play such a huge role in the war. As a science nerd, it made me love the book even more.
Monsters, Machinery, and Boys. Oh my!: These seem to be the three focuses of the novel. First off, there are the Darwinists, who’s biological monsters walk the streets of London or fly through the air, like the airship Leviathan, which resembles a whale. Then there are Clankers, who are all about the machines and using technology versus biology. Everything’s completely mechanical for them and they hate the Darwinists. Last, but not least, the two main characters: Alek, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, who’s a Clanker and Deryn, a girl masquerading as a boy so she can fly with the Darwinists, must work together to stay alive. The combination of these three groups, plus beautiful descriptions, gave Leviathan a life of its own and made it stand out against any other steampunk novel I’ve ever read.
More MG, less YA: I love to read YA novels, however I found this book to be written more for a MG level. It was a very easy read in general, and the illustrations, while adding to the descriptions, also made it seem more childish. The main characters, Deryn and Alek, who are supposed to be around 15-16 years old seem younger. I thought it would be more of a YA novel but it seemed aimed at a younger audience as well.
Despite the novel seeming to be written more for an MG audience, I loved it and readily give it 5 stars. It was so different from any other book I’ve read, and added to that is my love for Scott Westerfeld’s books, so I thoroughly enjoyed Leviathan.