Author: Scott Westerfeld
Illustrator: Keith Thompson
Release Date: October 6, 2009 (hardcover)
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Overall: 4 Stars
It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.
Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men.
Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl 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 the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way...taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever.
This was my first time reading a novel by Scott Westerfeld and in venturing into the steampunk genre, and I was quite impressed! Westerfeld puts a new spin on history, envisioning an alternate 1914 Europe full of so much imagination and creativity that captures you right from the start. The whole time I was reading, learning with each page more and more about this world that is so similar yet different from ours, I kept thinking, "This is so cool!'
Europe is on the brink of war when word spreads that Archduke Ferdinand and his wife have been assassinated. Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, manages to escape with a few loyal men in a Stormbreaker, a war machine, with the hope of making it to neutral Switzerland. The task won't be easy though. Germany, and even his own countrymen are after him, and they have a long road ahead of them before they can even think about crossing the border. Meanwhile, Deryn Sharp, a British commoner, dreams of joining the ranks of the British Air Service and flying. The problem? Deryn is a girl. Disguised as a boy and going by the name of Dylan, she can only hope that no one will learn her secret as she earns herself a spot on the whale-like airship, Leviathan.
The beautiful illustrations that went along as you read helped me visualize the events exactly as they unfolded... if I hadn't had them, I'm afraid my mind wouldn't even be able to fathom the creatures and machines that made this story so great.
The alternating viewpoints of Alek and Deryn were a pure joy to read. They're both brave, strong characters who can keeps their wits about them in dangerous situations, yet their backgrounds couldn't be more different. I'm definitely looking forward to reading more about these two in Behemoth, the next book in the series, when it's released in October of this year!
Leviathan will surely appeal to both boys and girls needing a novel full of adventure and excitement!
You can also check out Scott Westerfeld's website here or view the book trailer below.