Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld


Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon Pulse

3 out of 5 stars

It had all happened so fast. One moment he was Prince Aleksander, and the next he was a fugitive, running and hiding from those who had poisoned his parents. I’m talking about Prince Aleksander, son of the Archduke of Austria and Princess Sophie. Alek lived a cushy life, with tutors and servants to attend to his every need. All of that changed when his parents were poisoned in the night to start a war. Alek has now been forced to flee for his own life with his parents now dead and no throne. Oh I almost forgot, Alek is also a Clanker, someone who uses well-oiled machines for war and fighting. It is in one of these brutal war machines, known as a Stormwalker, which he is traveling in to try and make it to Switzerland, where they have a safe haven.

And then there’s Deryn Sharp, a girl who is trying to join the British Air Service when only boys are allowed to. She will do all it takes to prove herself worthy and make her deceased father proud. However, young Deryn Sharp is also a Darwinist, someone who lives in a society that uses genetically enhanced animals and beasts in their daily lives, and for war. Deryn is trying to make it into the British Air Service, and her older brother Jaspert, who is already enlisted, is going to help her. She is going in disguised as Dylan Sharp, a sixteen-year-old young man, when really she is only fifteen. If she is not successful, she’ll be sent back home to learn how to become a “proper lady.” Deryn definitely doesn’t want that.

They end up coming together in the strangest of ways. They meet on the airship Leviathan, which is down at the moment. It has crashed, and is in need of supplies and aid after an attack. Both Alek and Deryn are thrown together on the Leviathan. Both of their secrets are in danger of being discovered. Can they help each other and become unlikely allies? Or are they so different that it could never work out? Scott Westerfeld reveals all in his machine vs. beast battle, Leviathan!

A new, refreshing idea that I was constantly in awe of! I thought that Leviathan had a wonderful concept behind it, that made me wonder at all of the new possibilities. A very exciting read for pre-teens, teens, and adults, with its good dose of adventure!

I loved the concept behind Leviathan with its warring countries and their different sides. Beasties versus Clankers, which will you choose? The different ways in which the genetically-enhanced animals were used awed me the most. For example, the airship, Leviathan, is actually a gigantic, flying whale! This was hard for me to grasp at first, but as time went by, I got used to Deryn walking into the whale’s insides at times, or scaling its skin and passing right by its eye. I hope to see more of this quirkiness in the sequel, Behemoth.

What was also interesting, is that I thought that the society would be quite advanced, as they have genetically-enhanced animals and high-tech war machines. To my surprise, the society reminded me of an advanced version of medieval times. There were still street vendors, roasting pigs, coin money, fencing, and the style of clothing was quite like it too. I liked this though, as it made the story seem more plausible and I appreciated being pleasantly surprised.

Sadly, I felt that Leviathan took a long time to get to the climax of the story, and it didn’t express its point very well. The beginning and the middle is slow going, and for me was hard to get through. I guess it just didn’t hold my interest very well, unlike some of Scott Westerfeld’s other books, like the Uglies series. Also, I feel that there wasn’t much accomplished in this book, and I hope to see a more fast-paced story in the next book.

I felt that the idea of this alternate world was splendid and something to entertain my mind with all the new facets and crevices that I could explore. But I also felt that it was not developed enough. I’ve noticed from Scott Westerfeld’s writing style that he tends to leave you to figure out what certain things are in the book. However, this was such a new idea, that I would have liked to have seen some things explained more. It seemed underdeveloped. As if it was a good prototype, but I still needed to see all of the kinks worked out.

In the end, Leviathan was an intriguing tale of how two opposite youths come together during a dangerous time. Their friendship is sure to grow, as they become more and more curious about the other side. Join Alek and Deryn as they fight to keep their secrets hidden amidst a raging war in, Leviathan!

-This is T.B. with Another Book Back on the Shelf…
Until Next Time, Keep Reading!

You can visit the Leviathan website at http://www.scottwesterfeld.com/.
Leviathan is available from Amazon here.


  1. I love the concept behind this one, too! I haven't read this one yet but I can see why it would be frustrating that you wanted more to be explained. Great review.

  2. Thanks! I hope if you read it, that it might provide enough for you. It's a great idea behind the whole story though.

  3. Hmmm... This was on my "to read next" list. I loved the Ugly series and thought he did an excellent job. I'm still going to read this book, but will keep your review in mind.

  4. I also loved the Uglies series, and thought that the concept and characters were amazing. However, with Leviathan, I wished it could have been more thought out. As with this one, I thought the idea was very interesting and unique.

  5. Aww I'm sorry it had a sluggish start, I don't like when that happens.
    The premise does sound awesome though, and your review was great.

    Hope you have better luck with your next read! :D

  6. I'm a big fan of Westerfeld but actually haven't read this series yet. Great review though! Hopefully, I'll get around to reading it too.

  7. AnimeGirl-Thanks so much!

    A Canadian Girl-If you enjoy Westerfeld's books, then I suggest reading Leviathan. It wouldn't hurt. I hope you enjoy it if you read it!

  8. I liked the dialects that Westerfeld created, and I liked the world-building. I thought it was nice that he really paid attention to how scared Deryn is of being found out, rather than blithely carrying on, like most fantasy heroines in disguise. Ultimately, though, this series wasn't quite as awesome as I'd hoped, so I didn't pick this one up. I don't know if I can quite say why... I guess the Darwinist technology grossed me out -- which means I'm rooting for the Germans? And that feels wrong.
    I'm glad you're enjoying it, though!

  9. Beastie or Clanker? I don't know what side I'm on! I agree that Westerfeld did a good job of expressing Deryn's fears throughout the whole book. I'm sorry it's not as good as you expected.

  10. I haven't gotten the chance to read this book just yet. But from the sounds of it. It was greatly written so I should probably move this up my list a little. Great Review!

  11. It was a good book, but not as good as some of Westerfeld's others in my opinion. I definitely suggest it though!

    Oh, and thank you so much for the award on your blog! That means so much to me!


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