Review : Leviathan

Posted by on October 29, 2009 12:07 am in 4.5 stars reads | 15 comments

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, illustrations by Keith Thompson
Pages : 440
Genre : YA, Steampunk, Fantasy
My Rating : 

I couldn’t summary this better than the book did, so here it is, from the back of the book :

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

Scott Westerfeld, I love you!

There, I said it. After falling completely in love with the Uglies series, I fell in love yet again with Leviathan.

I thought I would like it, but I was surprised by how quick I actually got into it. Often, I find that speculative fiction starts with a disadvantage : it’s a new or different world than our own, and there is so much to be explained that it often takes over the characters and the story, especially in the beginnings. I found Westerfeld dealt with this brilliantly in Leviathan, and from the start I understood who the characters were and I really liked them.

Deryn was a great young woman, intelligent and resourceful, but what I really admired was her sense of responsibility. She wasn’t just passing herself as a boy for fun or rebellion : she really wanted to be part of the British Air Service, and once she was in, she took it seriously. Of course, her secret leads to a few funny scenes, too, and it made her relationship with Alek even more complicated. Alek was also great. I felt for him and admired his strength at the same time. Watching him discover the world from outside his castle was interesting but also realistic.

There is so much I could praise about this book : the wonderful setting, the great action scenes, the characters who surround Deryn and Alek ( I especially loved Dr. Barlow!), the “slang” that was so well written that it actually made the language even more interesting… I don’t want to get everyone’s expectations too high, but at the same time, I find very little to say other than “I loved it”!

So I’ll end on a note about one of the most important aspects of Leviathan : the illustrations. They are detailed and really help create a visual of the world. They also reminded me of those books I read when I was a kid, with an illustration every 2 or 3 pages. Which is not to say that this book felt childish, not at all! I really wish more books had illustrations like this. So make sure to stop by the artist’s website, and also take a look at the beautiful map he created for Leviathan (which decorates the inside of the book’s cover.) It’s brilliant!

Map of Leviathan by Keith Thompson

15 Comments

  1. Still haven’t read any Westerfield, but I continually hear great things. I might start with this one.

  2. Ooooh. Best map of Europe ever!

  3. My husband loved the Uglies series, so he is anxious to start this one. He grabbed it as soon as it came into the house.

  4. Oh, man, I’ve heard nothing but positive reviews about this one! And the endpaper illustrations are fantastic, aren’t they?

  5. I also thoroughly enjoyed this, and agree — the illustrations really make the book. I think it’s one of the nicest (physically) books I’ve got in my house. So much care taken with the look and feel!

  6. I really need to read this book! It sounds amazing. That map is just gorgeous, too.

  7. I just have to ask, what is the genre “steampunk”? I’ve never heard of that before!

  8. I loved this book so much, and actually my review went up today, too! How strange! I was actually a bit worried about this one because I’ve never read any steampunk and I’m not a big history fan, but I swear Westerfeld could write anything and I’d love it!

  9. Great review! I’ve heard nothing but good things about the book, that now I have to read it myself.

  10. I know I’m bound to like this once I start, but I keep putting it off…

  11. Must. Read.

  12. this is the 2nd review of this book I’ve read today and both of them were glowing. Now the pressure is on for me to read the uglies Series!!

  13. I almost bought this a few weeks ago. I’m not sure if I’ll like it, but I’ve read a lot of great reviews. thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  14. this book is EVERYWHERE! i am dying to get my paws on it, so i skipped your review! thanks for the reminder to add this to the TOP of the list–i saw your star rating.

  15. Wasn’t this one awesome? I too loved the ‘slang’ it just worked so well.

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