Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Book Review: Leviathan

Okay, I'm just going to say it. Leviathan is all sorts of awesomeness! The book takes place in an alternate reality at the beginning of World War I, which made me really glad I recenetly finished reading Paris 1919.

The two main characters represent each of the warring factions:

A 15 year old girl named Deryn Sharp dresses up as a boy to join the British Air Service. The Allied Powers in this universe are nicknamed the "Darwinist" after Charles Darwin who pefected a genetic splicing technique which allows the Allies to create their own new species. One of which is the Leviathan class air ship that Deryn is serving on.

The other is a young man Aleksandar Ferdinand who is the son of Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand who's assissination starts what becomes World War I. The Central Powers are nick named the "Clankers" as they eschew the godless genetic experiment of the Allies and instead focus on steam powered machines. However, the Clankers are still influenced by the Darwinists as their machines tend to be modeled after animals. Such as the 8 legged walking dreadnaught which replaces the tanks we know of.

The universe that author Scott Westerfeld describes is fully developed and his characters act in believable ways. That is, not always in their best interest as they are kids after all.

In case you haven't guessed I give this book my must buy recommendation. Please check out the book's web site as well as it adds a number of extras as well.


Janice said...

Hey Simon, this is the first book review I've seen from you that says "all sorts of awesomeness"... I may have to check it out! I wonder, is it another story sort of meant for teens like "The Golden Compass" & series? Just guessing it might be because of the ages of the characters. Anyway, thanks for the recommendation.

Simon Mac Donald said...

Hey Janice. I really enjoyed this book as it was such a mashup of themes such as the new weird with all the genetic engineering and steam punk. All of that being layered on top of WWI was a solid win for me.

I think that the "teen" or "young adult" market is filled with solid series such as "His Dark Materials" by Pullman, "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" by Riordan, "Harry Potter" by Rowlings, "Bone" by Jeff Smith and Cory Doctorow is starting to get into young adult novels with "Little Brother" and the upcoming "For the Win".

In a lot of cases I think the "young adult" label is applied to books because the protagonists have not reached the age of majority yet. This shouldn't be seen as a negative as the quality of many of these books is far better than some "adult" stories I've read.

In fact I've heard many author's want to get labeled as "young adult" as it is a huge market where they can sell a ton of books to teens and libraries.

Janice said...

Hey Simon! I wasn't complaining about "young adult" books, I was just wondering if this was one. I really enjoy lots of them as well. I guess we are just young at heart. :)

Simon Mac Donald said...

Sorry, I didn't think you were complaining about young adult books. I just took it as an opportunity to get up on my soapbox.