Sunday, October 17, 2010
The book is about the beginning of WWI, when Franz Ferdinand was assassinated. The main character in the story is a fictitious son of Ferdinand, Alec. After the assassination, he is whisked away by supporters of his father. The fun part of the book is the weapons and transportation devices that Westerfeld has created. (What an imagination!) The "Darwinists" have weapons and machines that are alive -- based on genetically modified and combined species. The Germans and Austrians (the Clankers) have machines, but they are very different than our war machines -- they travel on legs and are referred to by the number of legs they have (the more, the better.)
The format of the book is quite unique. The cover is beautiful -- it's embossed -- the letters and drawings are "raised." The book is a unique size -- longer and narrower than the usual. And also, the paper is heavier, which makes the book feel hefty, which I didn't particularly care for. Anyway, I guess if you are as successful as Westerfeld, you can get whatever kind of physical characteristics for your book that you desire.
There's a nice description of what is true and what isn't at the back of the book. You might want to read that before the end. I had actually "Googled" Franz Ferdinand so I could figure out the history after I read the first few chapters. So I learned a lot about the history of the First World War while I was at it.
Give this book a try if you like a good adventure. I think the book is very appropriate for middle or high school students.