Basic Summary: Alek is the son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie. You know, the two who were murdered and proved the final straw for WWI to break out? He’s also a Clanker – meaning, his faith sits in gears and oil to wage battles and win wars.
Deryn Sharp would prefer you call her Dylan Sharp. See, the only way she could get into the British Royal Air Navy was pretending she was a boy. And she is a Darwinist, putting her trust in fabricated animals (beasties) to get the job done.
Alek is on a the run, a fugitive from his own country due to the quasi-possibility he could one day inherit the throne. Deryn’s trying to keep her secret – and her position in the air – safe. But war’s breaking loose all over Europe. Clankers against Darwinists. And when Alek and Deryn meet, there’s more than just animals or machinery on the line.
Kell’s Chatty Review: Leviathan is engrossing and has some of the most amazing illustrations I’ve seen in a YA book (done by Keith Thompson). There is a ridiculous amount of history (real and fake) that Westerfeld has to input to bring readers (esp. readers like me who have a terrible job remembering history) up to speed with the story’s timeline. And he doesn’t make that input boring or forced, which is a coup right there.
There are many parts of this book that are heartbreaking (we start off with the double murder of Alek’s parents), but Westerfeld gives the reader suspense and action to balance everything out. There is also a stellar cast of support characters that keeps the reader guessing what’s going to happen next.
Steampunk?!?: Leviathan is an example of the steampunk genre, which in basic terms is a retelling of history – but with some details changed. Usually, this is human’s reliance on gears and steam (hence the term steampunk). Like I mentioned earlier, the Clankers are the ones using this technology.
Darwinists: I must say, however cool steampunk dress seems to be, I am fascinated by the Darwinists. Everytime Westerfeld introduces a new beastie, I look for clue that might tell us what the beastie is made up of. And I adore Tazza – who is not fabricated, just neat.
Bonus Features: An awesome book trailer and the audio book is being reading by Alan Cumming AND it has one of my favorite taglines EVER (“Do you oil your war machines? Or do you feed them?”). Win all around.
Quick Note: One of my fave parts of books that are sort of based on fact is the author afterward explaining what’s true and what isn’t. I always learn something.
What this book taught me about life: How about how much I don’t know about history.
What I most wanted to do after reading this book: Investigate steampunk.
Re-Readability Rating: 3.5. But I cannot wait for the sequel!
Where this book came from: ALA! For Free! (I felt like I had managed some sort of trick managing to get ahold of this ARC!)