Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

9 11 2009
leviathan-cover

Also, the audiobook is narrated by ALAN CUMMING. I think I might have to listen to this one, too.

Sometimes there is no sensible way to describe a book, or at least no way to describe it to get others to read it, or at least no one I know.  Leviathan is one of those books.  I’m going to post about it anyways – just because I loved it and hope that someone out there might pick it up – but I’m not holding my breath.  Unless you’re a fantasy nerd with an interest in steampunk and an appreciation for YA novels then I can’t imagine you’d get anything at all from this book.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastic and has a great story and wonderful characters and a really interesting premise, but first you have to get past the hybrid animals and alternate history and the (gorgeous) illustrations – and I can only think of 2 people I’d even try to get to read this – one is my 9 year old brother and the other lives on the other side of the planet.

A synopsis is way too difficult for me to do, so here’s the jacket flap info:

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.

Aleksander 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.

Of course that in no way explains the awesomeness that is Leviathan.  The two main characters grow so much, moving from a child’s black and white world to life as a shades of grey adult.   Alek is forced to go from child to adult overnight, not even given the time to grieve his parents murders because he’s fighting for his own life.  Deryn is brash and hilarious and really freaking good at flying and determined to do so even if it means lying about her gender – because staying home and being a good girl like her mother wants would be worse, it would be living a lie.  They are surrounded by great supporting characters who allow them to grow on their own for the most part.  And, oh man, the action in the book!  Battles and wars and crashes and chases and close calls and all that other fantastic stuff made reading this book easy and exhilirating.  My only complaint is the end, and that’s because Leviathan is the first in a projected series of books and now I have to wait for the next one to come out…in October 2010.  So, if you want something fast and fun and a little bit out there, or if you or a kid in your life really loved the His Dark Materials series, then do yourself a favor and pick this up.
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An example of the super illustrations done by Keith Thompson.

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