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by Scott Westerfeld
pub: Oct 2009
It is the cusp of World War I and all of the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinist employ fabricated animals as their weaponry.
Aleksander Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn stormwalker and a loyal crew of men. Deryn Sharp is commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's aboard the Leviathan and a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.
The imagination displayed in this novel is extraordinary. What a world! You have the one side with incredible machines, while the other believes in playing with genetics to create fantastical crossbreed creatures.
How would you like to see a half wolf tiger "all sinews and claws, a crafty intelligence lurking in the eyes"? Or a giant flying jellyfish that's easily spooked? And the Leviathan is a massive whale airship over a mile long and the most masterful beast in the British Fleet. Incredible, right?
Our two main characters are enjoyable. In a heartbeat, Alkesander's world is turned upside down. He goes from being a spoiled prince to an orphan with no title in the middle of a battle against people who want him dead. Deryn is trying to prove herself as a talented pilot in a male dominated society while desperate to keep her female identity safe.
The two of them make a great team, even while their immaturity, innocence and bravado tend to get them into trouble. Especially with the adults. The theme here is cooperation and acceptance. The two people from different sides and different social classes have to work together using technology and biology to save the day.
Leviathan kept me on the edge of my seat, dying to know what would happen next. It has touching moments, sad times, intense fighting scenes and humor. Leviathan has it all!
An added bonus is the wonderful artwork in the book that highlights some of the more interesting scenes, creatures and machines.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It's well written, creative and jam-packed with suspense and action. The characters drive the story along in a fun and fast-paced adventure that is suitable for kids and adults alike. The ending leaves it open for a sequel and I'll be first in line for that one! Grab Leviathan and give it a read!
The Cover: Awesome! The colors are brilliant and the multitude of intricate gears are a work of art! It feels great too because of the raised artwork design.
First Lines: The Austrian horses glinted in the moonlight, their riders standing tall in the saddle, swords raised. Behind them two ranks of diesel-powered walking machines stood ready to fire, cannon raised over the heads of the cavalry.
Very good. I love the fact that I'm slammed into the middle of a battle on the verge of exploding and the indication (diesel-powered walking machines) that something unusual is going on.
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