In short, Leviathan is about two teenage characters on opposites sides during World War One (1914-1918).* Deryn, wishing to serve in his majesty’s military, disguises herself as a boy and changes her name to Dylan. She becomes part of the crew on a the Leviathan, a huge genetically engineered hydrogen whale capable of flight - a new twist on the dirigible.** Alek is the fictional son of Archduke Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, whose assassination sparked WWI.*** Alek must flee for his life and evades capture by traveling in mechanical bi-pedal “tanks” known as walkers.
-What they make: beasties (like the Leviathan)
-How they make them: DNA manipulation and incubation period
-Maintenance requirements: organic food supply and healing time
-What they make: gadgets and machines (like walkers)
-How they make them: gears and pistons
-Maintenance requirements: oil supply and spare parts
Westerfeld creates a fantastic world with its bizarre creatures and machines. I enjoyed reading to see how these creations helped and hindered Dylan and Alek. There is a fair amount of suspense and quite a bit of action and violence. Dylan and Alek are faced with uneasy decisions which ask them to handle grown up situations. There are a slew of interesting characters to help them along the way. My only complaint is with the totally abrupt ending. I enjoy series and do not mind waiting to read the next book to find out what happens but Leviathan’s ending left me going “Really, that’s the ‘end’?” If you’re a one-and-done sort of reader this book may not be for you. I, however, will be putting the sequel Behemoth on my TBR list.
Publisher: Simon Pulse, 2009 Pages: 338
Rating: 3.5 Stars Source: Public Library
*While technically the Victorian period ends with Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, many consider the Victorian age to last a decade or two longer calling it, no surprise, the “Long Victorian Era,” therefore including WWI.
**Steampunk revels in dirigibles.
*** In reality, Ferdinand did have a son, Max. He and his sisters were exiled after the assassination.