Series: The Leviathan Trilogy
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Illustrator: Keith Thompson
Genre: Steampunk, Alternate History
First Impressions: What an awesome concept! The story takes place in an alternate World War I. The main difference? Steam engines evolved early and in a big way, and are used by the Central Powers (mostly the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire), called Clankers in this series. Whereas the Entente Powers (mostly Britain, France and the Russian Empire), here called the Darwinists, developed genetic engineering, and used it to create animals for war—an example being the Leviathan, which is basically a whale hydrogen airship with a delicate ecosystem.
Last Impressions: Leviathan moved a bit slower than I would have thought, given that it’s a war novel, but then you have to remember that it’s the first book—the world and characters need to be set up! The two main characters, Deryn/”Dylan” (a Scottish girl posing as a boy to get into the British air force) and Alek (the son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his commoner wife, Sophie—you may know them from their assassination that is thought to be the straw that broke the camel’s back and started WWI) don’t even meet until well into the first book. Behemoth is where the story really takes off. The final book in the trilogy, Goliath, is coming out September 30th of this year, and I cannot wait! On a final note, you certainly don’t have to be a World War I aficionado to enjoy this series. In fact, Scott Westerfeld definitely takes some historical liberties—such as the fact that Alek is not a real person.
Thoughts on the book covers: LOVE the artwork of the first cover!! It’s easily the reason I even looked at these books in the first place. And then, randomly, they decided they were going to redo the covers with people on the front. Now, I do like the cover for Goliath, but still not as much as the initial artwork. I mean, don’t they ask a sample group or something about these things?! Arg, oh well. Anyway, can I just say I’m totally in love with Keith Thompson’s Darwinist vs. Clankers map (pictured at top)? Go on, click on it; it’s awesome! In fact, saunter on over to his website and click around (be aware there is some creepy slight nudity). It reminds me a bit of something Guillermo del Toro (director of Pan’s Labyrinth) might put into a movie.
Favorite Moment (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT): Probably when Deryn gets a kiss, and it’s most likely not who you think it’s from!
Least Favorite Moment (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT): Not really a huge spoiler, but it was a little disappointing that Alek still doesn’t know Deryn is a girl by the end of Behemoth.
Dream Cast: Carey Mulligan as Deryn; Alexander Ludwig as Alek.
People who should read this: Anyone looking for a YA novel that’s a little different. Boys, this means you, too!
Please enjoy the following book trailer: