Saturday, October 10, 2009

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld - Review

Here's Antonia's review of the very wonderful Scott Westerfeld's new book, Leviathan. (It's next on my list when I've finished The Maze Runner.)

Three of my favorite things have combined into one phenomenal read: Scott Westerfeld, Alternate Reality, and the First World War. One night in 1914 a young Austrian boy, Aleksandar, is awakened by his mentor for a training exercise meant to hide him from those who wish to assassinate the boy. Alek is the son of Arch Duke Ferdinand of Austria, who is on a state visit to Sarajevo with his wife. . . you know what happens next on that fateful trip. Meanwhile, across the Channel a young girl, Deryn, disguises herself as a boy to join the British Air Service. Both teens are unaware that Europe is on the brink of war.

Familiar territory thus far? But this is not history; rather it is a tale from the mind of Scott Westerfeld. In Westerfeld's world the English Darwinists have gone much further with the theories of evolution than mere study. Manipulating DNA, they have created new species as weapons of war! The crews who man these creations fondly refer to them as "beasties," and intrepid Deryn is assigned to Leviathan, the biggest and most dangerous of these. The Germans and Austrians abhor the British's bioengineered beasts that they see as abominations outside the proper natural order. Instead, they have fabricated technologically advanced mechanical contraptions that the English dub "Clankers." Keith Thompson's spellbinding illustrations of these awesome wonders deepen our understanding of the distance between the two empires.

These two radically different belief structures, pitted against each other, are more transcendental than the petty colonial aspirations and balance of power ambitions that fueled the World War I as we know it. They feel even more radical than some current day politico-religious divisions amongst cousin monotheistic faiths. Caught on opposing sides of this titanic struggle between two great powers Alek and Deryn are destined to meet, but not before Leviathan plummets out of the sky!

Westerfeld has done it again!

1 comment:

Tere Kirkland said...

Thanks for a great review. I'm really looking forward to this one.