Sunday, October 17, 2010

Leviathan

I finished my second "steampunk" novel, Leviathan and really enjoyed it.  It's by Scott Westerfeld, of Uglies fame, and we all know how popular that series is.  I enjoyed my first steampunk, Incarceron, but Leviathan has a different "feel."  I thought the book was not quite as dark, although very exciting.

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.)

Dylan is the main Darwinist, and she ends up flying on the Leviathan, a whale-based creature that is lifted by hydrogen.  Dylan is also interesting because she is posing as a male, so that she could join the service.  Of course, Alec and Dylan end up meeting up in the most perilous of situations, and so instead of being enemies, they must come to each other's aid.  The book includes wonderful illustrations that add to the rich descriptions of the creatures and machines.  The suspense will keep you turning pages, especially at the end of the book -- which is a very quick read.

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.

4 comments:

  1. I've wanted to read this one for a while, but haven't gotten around to it. I don't know if I ever will. Are you going to read the sequel?

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  2. I'm not sure. Because I like to be able to recommend a wide variety of books to my students, I rarely read past the first book in a series -- I know that sounds crazy, but I feel it works for me. Maybe after I retire I'll finish all the series I've started! BTW -- it's a quick read, if that helps your decision.

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  3. Oh I'm always thinking about reading this one, but I'm not sure...Which was your first Steampunk novel? I'm participating in the Steampunk challenge, so am always interested in new suggestions:)

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  4. It was "Incarceron" which I also liked.

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