Thursday, March 18, 2010

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

I went into Leviathan knowing only that Amanda really likes Scott Westerfeld and that it was steampunk, facts reiterated any time either Westerfeld or steampunk came up in conversation and Amanda was within earshot.  I was not at all disappointed.  I should understand by know that she has very good taste.  Leviathan was a quick read and very entertaining along the way.

Aleksander of Austria is on the run after his parents are murdered.  Deryn disguises herself as a boy (“Dylan”) to get into Britain’s Air Service.  As the Great War spreads across continental Europe, both Alek and Dylan have to face unforeseen challenges and make new alliances in order to survive.

This is a really well done book.  The conflicts build almost naturally.  The characters think and act like real people. The world is complete.  The words are clear and concise; not too little to make it believable, not too much to make it boring.  I have a feeling that this is the case with all of Westerfeld’s works, as it feels so natural.  It’s a style of writing I can definitely see myself aspiring to. I’ll need to get Amanda’s recommendation of what of his to read next. (Hint, hint.)

I was amazed as to the amount of thought that must have gone into the physics and engineering of this world.   The major forces in the world are divided into “Clankers” and “Darwinists.”  Clankers get the name from their machine-based military.  Darwinists use animal-based genetically engineered life forms as their weapons of mass destruction.   The physical details of the action scenes made it real to me. 

It was also interesting is that Westerfeld tweaked details of actual history in order to get this alternate universe.  Why does that remind me of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure?  


Amanda said...

I don't mention him THAT often! It's just that I haven't read any other steampunk! :D

I'm glad you liked it, though. I was actually worried I wouldn't like Leviathan because steampunk just wasn't interesting ot me, and I don't like history or books about history, but of course Westerfeld could rewrite John Locke and I'm sure I'd love it.

For recommendations: I'd suggest the Uglies series. Midnighters is good too, but I liked Uglies more than Midnighters. My fav book in the series is Pretties but some people find the slang in it really irritating (Pretties talk like valley girls almost). Anyway, it's a dystopian society where everyone gets an operation to become biologically pretty at the age of 16.

Ann said...

I think Midnighters is already on my eBook wish list. Probably from one of your previous chats on his stuff. And Midnighters sounds closer to what I normally read.

Was the sequel to Leviathan any good? They definitely set it up to be.

Amanda said...

It's not due out until October. You can bet I'll be buying it right away!

Midnighters is much younger than his other books. More middle-school to early high school-ish. I liked them, though I thought the third book wasn't so great. I also liked So Yesterday, which is a standalone.