Sunday, December 20, 2009

Leviathan -- Scott Westerfeld

YA steampunk. It's almost WWI, but not quite the way you learned about it in history class. The archduke's been assassinated, and his only son, Alek, is on the run in a Clanker, one of the steam-powered machines favored by the Austrians and Germans.

Meanwhile, in England, Deryn Sharp, a girl posing as a boy named Dylan, enters the air service and finds herself on the Leviathan, a monstrous living airship. See, in this England, Darwin has discovered how to manipulate DNA, so they have living machines called Huxleys (or possibly Huxlies; I forget). Leviathan is a whale, and a whole lot more. Before long, Deryn and Alek's adventures merge, and they're sailing off into the sequel.

There's a lot of good stuff here. The Clankers and the Huxlies (or Huxleys) are presented in such detail that you almost believe them, and the human characters are even better, particularly Deryn. And then there's the mysterious Dr. Barlow and her the even more mysterious eggs that she's trying to deliver to Constantinople.

High adventure, air battles, Clanker chases, and I almost forgot to mention the great illustrations by Keith Thompson that are scattered throughout. Fun for all ages, really.


Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed it too, Bill, though I didn't realize until more than halfway through that it was the first in a series.

Deryn is the best character all right.


Bill Crider said...

I'd read about it, but I'd forgotten it was the first book in a series, too. Rats. Now I have to read the rest.

Clare2e said...

I heard Scott Westerfeld (whose Uglies trilogy is great YA, too) discuss this at an alternate history panel at last year's BEA. It sounded way cool in theory. Glad it panned out.

George said...

I've read some of Scott Westerfeld's "grown up" SF novels and liked them.

Gerard Saylor said...

Like Zeppelin's West?

Bill Crider said...

Nothing's like that.