SERIES: Leviathan #1
AUTHOR: Scott Westerfeld
PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse
RELEASE DATE: October 6, 2006
GENRE: Junior, Steam Punk
PAGE COUNT: 440
Leviathan is the adrenaline-fueled first book of Westerfeld’s steam punk trilogy. Aimed at middle school readers, it blends the perspectives of a prince turned fugitive and a pauper disguised as a boy to provide an alternate history of WWI.
The story starts the night that 15-year-old Prince Aleksander’s parents are assassinated and the palace staff abduct him for his safety. Meanwhile, Deryn is disguised as a boy onboard the British airbeast, the Leviathan. Although they are each caught up in their own battles, their paths are set to collide.
In this steampunk retelling of WWI, Clankers and Darwinists are rival superpowers. The Clankers’ Walkers are reminiscent of Star Wars AT-STs. My favourite however, are the Darwinists’ fabricated beasts including the hydrogen-filled Leviathan, a whale that flies into battle armed with dagger-dropping bats. Its belly is home to bee colonies and jellyfish hot air balloons.
Even though I’m much older than Leviathan‘s target readership, the story was still engrossing. My biggest criticism regards the over-explaining of plot points. Overall, Leviathan packs huge entertainment even for teen readers. While steam punk isn’t my cup of tea, this introduction to the genre was fun.