Review: Leviathan

October 31, 2012 Review 10 ★★★★½

Review: Leviathan
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
(Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository)

Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Source: Borrowed
Pages: 448
Release Date: May 27th 2010
Series: Leviathan #1
Genres: General, Steampunk, Young Adult
The year is 1914 and Europe, armed with futuristic machines and biotechnology, is on the precipice of war. Prince Aleksandar is fleeing for his life, having discovered that his parents have been assassinated and he is now a target for the Clanker Powers, a group determined to take over the globe with their mechanical machinery. When he meets Deryn Sharpe, an orphan girl who has disguised herself as a boy so she can to join the British Air Service, they form an uneasy, but necessary, alliance. But the pair will soon discover that their emerging friendship will dramatically change their lives - and the entire course of the Great World War...

Prepare for tons of gifs and hyphens!

LEVIATHAN is probably the hardest novel I’ve had to review so far. This is because it is so completely different from anything I have ever read, it is a completely originally story that is based in 1914 and tells an alternate history of WWI where the feuding powers are Clankers (mechanical) and Darwinists (fabricated animals). Sound familiar? Exactly. There’s nothing like it.
Before you go running off after reading the words “alternate history,” let me tell you something. How to put this nicely… I hate non-fiction. I would rather read the Twilight series until my eyes started to glaze over. Hope that wasn’t too blunt. Anyway what I’m saying is this book is great for what it is. If you hate non-fiction as much as I do, or even more, do not second guess yourself on picking this up! I gave it five stars and I don’t dish those out easily.

The reason I had a hard time rating this was because it definitely takes some getting used to, you go through a few phases while reading:
The “I’ll-Start-This-Even-Though-I-Doubt-I’ll-Like-It-Gotta-Get-It-Over-With” Stage:
 The “Hey-This-Isn’t-So-Bad-Whoa-What’s-That-Creature” Stage:
A few “Action-Action-Action-So-Much-Action” Stages:
 Concluding with:
 In my opinion the female-disguised-male-to-join-the-Service Deryn, is one of the best female characters I’ve read about, second only to Isame in GRAVE MERCY. She makes you want to root for her and has an extremely refreshing personality. The other point of view is a Prince named Alekansdar and is also a very different male character- he actually has flaws and emotional depth. Strange idea, I know.
As I mentioned above, this war is between the Clankers and Darwinists; this results in a really cool, inventive plot line. There is action literally on every page but it never gets overdone or unrealistic or seems forced.
The few illustrations in this book are a great feature, they allow you to picture what the author envisioned when he wrote it. Since so much is invented (imaginary) and a lot goes on in the descriptions, the pictures help those of us less detailed-inclined.

This is something new I decided to do because if you are anything like me you just want a simple “Should I read it or not, and why?” This is what the Quick Bit is. 

If you are a fan of Westerfeld’s other novels for just the plot, I might suggest avoiding LEVIATHAN because in this comparison, this book is drastically different. If you are a fan of his other novels because you love his writing, world-building, and character development, you will probably love this book.

If you have no time and expect to breeze through this, avoid this novel-you’ll probably get bored of it because you aren’t giving it the time it deserves. If you want to take the time and think about the details and imagine the world, definitely go for it because I think there is a good chance you will love it just if you stop to appreciate this magnificently imaginative and complex story.
I’ll be reading the sequel.

As I have not read many steampunk novels I have no other recommendation to offer you that it like the LEVIATHAN. You shouldn’t even want an alternative-this book is great!

Rating Report
Overall: 4.5

10 Responses to “Review: Leviathan”

  1. Elizabeth

    I’ve been wondering if this book was worth checking out, I’ve been reading Scott’s Uglies series, which I really like. Love the pictures you included with your review :)

  2. Alison Can Read

    Wow, I’m intrigued by the comparison to Isame. I keep meaning to read this book. I own it and my husband liked it but I haven’t started it yet. It’s good to know in advance that it’s a challenging read.

    • The Book Blondes

      I made that comparison to sort of show show that Deryn could take care of herself and was a strong character like Isame rather than a generic “Mary Sue” that we see so often. Deryn isn’t quite the killing nun Isame is ;) You just need to have some time to really savor and imagine the world Westerfeld created.

      Thanks for stopping by, Alison!

  3. Davida

    I’m a fairly recent convert to SteamPunk and this has been On my to-read list for about a month…Great review! Makes me even more excited to get to it!

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