PS# 22 Leviathan

book reviews, historical fiction, leviathan, scott westerfeld, steampunk, steampunks ahoy!, strong female characters, world war I, ya, YA week / Friday, June 16th, 2017
Date started: 3/16/17                    

Date finished: 3/18/17

For # 22 of POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: A Steampunk novel

Nothing says YA like a good romp with the Steampunk genre. Am I right, folks? In a world where World War I does Steampunk, only one book prevails over the others (if there are others) and that book is Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. I have never read this genre of fiction before, I only had some inkling what to expect, mostly technology that is so advance Queen Victoria might actually be impressed by it.

For those of you, who do not really know me, I love reading books about World War I. Maybe, it has to do with the whole my great-grandfather was a sixteen or so-year old solider fighting for America. Perhaps, it could be my strange fascination with the Red Baron, Manfred von Richthofen, (one of my historical crushes).  Either way my love for it persists and guided me in choosing this novel. When I read that this book was about the tense period before the war, I hoped right on it for the Steampunk challenge. Before we begin this journey, title Leviathan comes from the name of a British whale airship used in the story.

So put on your aviator googles and hold on tight as we climb abroad a quick trip on the Leviathan.

Similar to My Lady Jane, Leviathan alternates from history to the realm of steampunk. The main sides that are covered in the book are Darwinists (British and create and employ fabricated animal as their weaponry). Their name comes from Charles Darwin, who in this reality tested with mixing animal genetics and technology with each other. And on the other side are the Clankers (Austria-Hungarians and Germans), they use steam driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. Both of these sides are presented as enemies in the novel, or very close to it.

The map for Leviathan.
I have no idea why it says Meme Center in the corner.

The setting of the novel is 1914.  The beginning of the book deals with the infamous assignation of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria through his “fictional” son and only child Aleksander (Alek). At the death of his father, Alek has to flee his from his own people with a handful of loyal men and a Stormwalker. The other major story line follow Deryn Sharp a commoner and a young lady disguising herself as a boy in order to join the British Air Service. Now known as “Dylan” Sharp, Deryn ends up on the airship Leviathan after minor training mishap. Not too long after Deryn’s arrival, the Leviathan takes on a mysterious woman named Dr. Nora Barlow and a crate of eggs on their way to Istanbul. Somewhere between the long trip to Istanbul and running for his life, their story lines collide merging their stories together.

I only had very few minor problems with the book. The most had to do with our major characters Aleks and Deryn. Aleks comes off as being too naive even for a prince at times. However, his character becomes “street smart” right away especially when he’s on the run for his life. Deryn tries too hard to be a tough lady. At times, she resembles a caricature rather than a fleshed out actualized character. Since this book is the first in a series, I hope Westerfeld develops her character further, because she has a lot of potential. It’s just that currently she feels more like a trope than a character I could feel sympathy from. Occasionally, when I read her parts, I groaned at the thought of having to read about her again, but the world around her was so immersive and captivating that she develops into a minor nuisance and shifts to the background. I want her to be strong, just not so “I need to really play this boy part up so let me act extra tough” which is the vibe I got off of her a lot. There is an array of minor characters on both sides of the story lines that are so absorbing I wish they are given their own books at some point such as Dr. Nora Barlow. The way Westerfeld explains this world really enthralls you and is a fun read as well!

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