Monday, January 18, 2010


Steam punk meets gene punk in Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan.  The time is the eve of World War I, but the time line is not the one we are familiar with.  It is a world where Charles Darwin was able to go further in his research and manipulate genes to create vast, living airships out of a hodgepodge of animal genes.   Those who find his practice ungodly have responded with similarly strange, animalistic machines to combat them.  Your guides in this world are a young Machinist Alek, the son of Archduke Ferdinand, and a young Darwinist girl Deryn who just wants to fly.  Alek is forced to flee for his life, a fugitive from his own country, while Deryn flees her family and disguises herself as a boy so she can enlist and get a seat aboard the magnificent airship, the flying whale, the Leviathan.

I loved the world presented in this novel, and I like that I got to explore it from the perspective of both sides of the conflict.  I also liked that one of the two protagonists was a girl (there's even an amusing moment where the male lead, oblivious to the truth, says that she's exactly the kind of boy he wished he could be, hah!) as well as including an important female scientist among the main characters.  Yay for positive role models for young girls!  Much better than the find yourselves an abusive boyfriend so you can get pregnant and not have to attend college role model that seems to be so popular among young girls today *coughtwilightcough* 

But I digress, Leviathan engulfs you in its world and keeps you turning the pages until the 'to be continued' at the end (thankfully Westerfeld is a quick writer) while exploring important issues and the gray areas between the extremes.  It's not quite as thought-provoking as his Uglies series, but it is aimed at a younger audience so that seems appropriate.  If it gets kids wanting to research more about the real history surrounding WWI, all the better.  The only thing that upset me about this book was the fact that when I finished it I couldn't start the next.  The dual perspective also makes it so you can recommend it to girls and boys, and if you have any young boys or girls in your life I suggest you do so. 

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld ISBN: 9781416971733

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