Book Review: “Leviathan”

“Leviathan (Leviathan #1)” by Scott Westerfeld

Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction

GoodreadsSource: Bought

Other Leviathan books

Summary from Goodreads:

It is the cusp of World War I. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ genetically fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.

Aleksandar Ferdinand, a Clanker, and Deryn Sharp, a Darwinist, are on opposite sides of the war. But their paths cross in the most unexpected way, taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure….One that will change both their lives forever.


Even though I’ve heard really good things about the Leviathan series from many people, I was still a bit hesitant to read the book. It’s just really out there for me. I don’t dabble too much with science fiction with military elements. They always seem to get too bogged down in details for me. Leviathan wasn’t too bad for me. The very, very basic background story is taken pretty much from history so I knew what was going on in that area. The alternate part of history wasn’t featured too much except in passing references and being able to see the result of the actions (the beasties and the clanker machines). Even though I would probably be in way over my head, I would have liked to hear more about the hows and the whys of the beasties and clankers.

I really liked getting to see a guy and a girl working equally with each other. Yes, no one knows that Deryn is a girl but that’s fine. I don’t know why it’s so hard to have a guy and a girl to be equals with no romantic tension. Towards the end of the book it started to seem like Deryn may have been developing feelings for Alek but it wasn’t overwhelming.

Deryn was awesome. I liked how it didn’t feel like she was just playing pretend. She worked just as hard as any guy on board. Being a girl didn’t stop her from achieving her dream. She just had to be smart enough to figure out how exactly to achieve that dream.

I know that Westerfeld needed to build up back story and develop Alek and Deryn’s character but I didn’t enjoy the fact that it took half the book for them to meet. As a result, the first half of the book was slow going. Sure it was interesting but not neglecting-everything-I-have-to-do interesting.

Hooray for awesome illustrations! I have a terrible time imagining how things look based off descriptions in books. I don’t think I could have possibly imagined how all the beasties and clankers would have looked if not for the illustrations.

The bottom line? This was an interesting book. A great first step for people wanting to try alternate history or steampunk. I’ll probably pick up book two at some point!

This was read as part of Book Hoarders Anonymous.

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