Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld

I would like to thank my connections at the Twinsburg Public Library for letting me check this book out while I was hanging out at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving. This is one of those books that I can’t find in Jacksonville, and I really wanted to read it, so it worked out quite well!

This is the sequel to Leviathan, which I read a year ago and loved a lot. To recap the basics, it’s the Great War as it would have been fought if only the Axis had giant machines to fight with and the Allies had fabricated animals that did things like fly and poo shrapnel.

Right. In this book, our future archduke becomes a bit of a prisoner of war aboard the Leviathan and decides to escape; our girl-pretending-to-be-a-boy soldier is tasked with a secret mission that works but goes a little bad in that she’s now stuck in Istanbul without a quick way back to her ship. Conveniently, his archduke-ness is also hiding in Istanbul, and they meet up again quickly to help some revolutionaries who might be able to help both of their situations.

I was not as excited by Behemoth as by its predecessor. Deryn, the soldier, is no longer as badass as she previously was… I mean, she’s still fighting and doing awesome things, but she spends less time being like “I’m awesome and you can’t argue with that” and more time mooning over his archduke-ness, Alek. I dislike mooning. I also wasn’t as taken with Alek, though I’m not sure why… I guess I just felt that I didn’t really know what was going on with him, between his men being deceptive and he being really quite daft.

I will probably read the conclusion to this trilogy, but I won’t be waiting as excitedly as I was for this one.

Recommendation: If you liked Leviathan you will want to read this, and I recommend Leviathan to anyone who likes an alternate history or some steampunk.

Rating: 7/10

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Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.

Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld (14 November — 15 November)

Um. I loved this book. A lot. I really didn’t expect to. I mean, I read Westerfeld’s Uglies series, and I thought it was pretty okay — entertaining, adventurous, and the like — but this is some seriously excellent stuff!

Maybe I forgot to tell myself that I love steampunk, I don’t know. Leviathan starts right at the beginning of World War I, immediately after Franz and Sophie are assassinated (by poisoning, this time). The usual suspects go off to war, but it’s not trench warfare on the menu today, but a machines vs. nature showdown. See, in this world, there are Clankers and Darwinists (and neutral people, of course, but they aren’t as exciting). The former love their giant walking machines; the latter love their giant whale zeppelins. And when I say whale, I mean that oh, also, Darwin has figured out DNA in this world and the Darwinists evolve their zeppelins and the like by splicing together interesting bits to make battle animals and flying implements that are alive. That’s pretty darn cool. Let’s work on that. 🙂

So the background of the story is excellent, and then the two main characters, who share chapter-time, are pretty awesome themselves. We first meet Alek, the only son of Franz and Sophie, who is whisked away in the middle of the night to go hide from the people who’d rather he be dead. Of course, he’s fifteen, so he’s not too good at the “shut up and hide” aspect of this whisking. Our other protagonist is Deryn, a girl who is passing as a boy (called Dylan) so that she can join the Air Service and go flying. She is also fifteen and a titch full of herself, but she thinks awesome things like, “Hey, all you sods, I can fly and you can’t! A natural airman, in case you haven’t noticed. And in conclusion, I’d like to add that I’m a girl and you can all get stuffed!” Deryn’s kind of a badass.

Oh. And the illustrations are magnificent. As are the endpapers. Keith Thompson is my new artist-crush. 🙂

This is the first in another trilogy, I think; I can’t wait for the next one!

Rating: 9/10
(Countdown Challenge: 2009)

See also:
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Pass me yours, if you’ve got ’em.