Review : Leviathan
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!