Goliath: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Goliath by Scott WesterfeldAlek and Deryn have circumnavigated most of the globe aboard the Darwinist airship Leviathan as they try to end World War I. Along the way, perhaps Alek will be able to claim his position as the true heir to Clanker Austria’s throne. And perhaps Deryn will finally be able reveal her biggest secrets to Alek, namely that she is not just a girl but that she loves him.

But as the Leviathan flies first to Siberia and then over the United States and Mexico, bigger problems arise as Deryn’s secrets begin to unravel with alarming speed and Alek turns to a misguided lunatic in his continued efforts to end the War. The truth is supposed to set you free, but will it be enough to not just save Alek and Deryn but also end a war in Goliath (2011) by Scott Westerfeld (with illustrations by Keith Thompson)?

Find it on Bookshop.

Goliath is the phenomenal conclusion to Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy which began with Leviathan and continued in Behemoth. It is also the perfect end to what is essentially a perfect trilogy. Goliath truly exceeded my already very high expectations.

I worried about this book. What would happen to Deryn? Where would Alek end up? What about Alek and Deryn together? There were so many potential pitfalls and unfortunate conclusions. Westerfeld avoided all of them.

Goliath is a truly satisfying end to a trilogy that was filled with actions and surprises from the very first pages to the very last. The whole series is a must read for anyone interested in speculative fiction, alternate histories or, of course, steampunk. As its dedication suggests, Goliath is also the perfect book for readers who appreciate a long-secret love story finally revealed. Truly wonderful.

Possible Pairings: We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett, The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove, The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox, Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist: Flight of the Phoenix by R. L. LaFevers with illustrations by Kelly Murphy, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, Jackaby by William Ritter, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, Everland by Wendy Spinale, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, Firefly (television series) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (graphic novel and movie), The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne (television series), Serenity (movie)

 

Behemoth: A Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Behemoth by Scott WesterfeldDeryn is a girl posing as a boy and serving in the British Air Services aboard the Leviathan as it heads to the capital of the Ottoman Empire on a secret mission.

Alek, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, is also aboard the Leviathan posing as a commoner among his men. Together these Clankers and Darwinists have forged an uneasy alliance born out of necessity. But when war comes to the airship, everything changes.

The year is 1914. The British Darwinists and their fabricated beasties have declared war against Austria-Hungary and their Clanker war machines. The rest of the world sits, waiting, on the brink of war.

As the threat of war looms closer, Alek finds himself running out of options. He can’t stay aboard the Leviathan any longer and risk becoming a prisoner of war. But can he ask his only friend, Dylan Sharp, to commit treason by helping him escape?

Deryn knows that Alek has to leave the airship. She knows the he should go. But no matter what she tells herself Deryn doesn’t want him to go. How can the one person who trusts her completely also be the one she can’t share her biggest secret with?

Alek and Deryn should be on opposite sides of this conflict but instead they have become fast friends. As the two make their way through the mysterious and dangerous city of Istanbul they just might find a way to stop this war in its tracks in Behemoth (2010) by Scott Westerfeld with illustrations by Keith Thompson.

Find it on Bookshop.

Behemoth is the sequel to Leviathan. It’s also the second book in Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy.

This book is filled with everything that made Leviathan great and then some. Westerfeld’s reimagined world is just as vivid and compelling as before. The action is just as exciting. There is alternate history. There is steampunk. There are beasties, walkers and a lot of people making insinuations by saying “Mr. Sharp” repeatedly.* There will be humor. Oh, and those mysterious eggs from Leviathan? They totally hatch in Behemoth.

Deryn’s secret continues to weigh heavily, especially when it comes to Alek. Meanwhile Alek, almost literally, has the weight of the world on his shoulders as he works to find a way to end the war. Westerfeld also spends more time on a lot of favorite secondary characters (including Dr. Barlow and Count Volger, my personal favorites) and world building as we see an Istanbul very unlike the one we know and learn more about familiar characters. The scope and detail Westerfeld brings to this book (and which Thompson brings to his delightful illustrations) is truly astounding.

Behemoth is an excellent addition to a wonderful trilogy, possibly even better than the first in the trilogy. This is a book that really exceeds all expectations and will leave readers eagerly waiting for Goliath, the forthcoming conclusion to a stunning trilogy.

Possible Pairings: We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett, The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove, The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox, Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist: Flight of the Phoenix by R. L. LaFevers with illustrations by Kelly Murphy, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, Jackaby by William Ritter, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, Everland by Wendy Spinale, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, Firefly (television series) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (graphic novel and movie), The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne (television series), Serenity (movie)

*Sometimes one line can really make a book. Believe it or not, “Mr. Sharp.” might be the line of this book.

Leviathan: A (Linktastic) Review

Leviathan by Scott WesterfeldThe year is 1914 and Europe is preparing for war. Although the events leading to a world war are sudden, the lines have long been drawn between the Clanker and Darwinist nations. While Austria-Hungary and Germany put their faith in steam-driven iron machines and guns, the British Darwinists fabricate monstrous beasties as their weapons and ships.

At the center of the conflict is Alexsandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and son of the ill-fated Archduke Franz Ferdinand. With the death of assassination of his parents, Alek’s title is worthless; his own country ready to betray him. Only a battle-worn Stormwalker and a loyal crew stand between Alek and a fate similar to his parents as the young prince goes into hiding.

Meanwhile, Deryn Sharp is a girl hiding a monstrous secret to join the British Air Service. Disguised as boy, Deryn can hold her own as an airman. But the risk of discovery is as constant as the danger of battler as her airship flies nearer to battle.

Born in two different worlds, from different sides of the same war, everything will change when Alek and Deryn finally meet in Leviathan (2009) by Scott Westerfeld with illustrations by Keith Thompson. Until then, the only question is: Do you oil your war machines? Or do you feed them?

Find it on Bookshop.

Leviathan is the first book in Westerfeld’s new series (a projected trilogy, I’m almost certain). It is nothing like his vastly popular Uglies series or anything else he has written. The first thing readers need to know about this book is that it does not fit into the traditional science fiction niche that so comfortably houses Uglies (and Peeps). Instead, Leviathan is a steampunk* novel.

Instead of looking to the future as science fiction often does steampunk looks to the past creating an alternate history where it was not the modern era but the Victorian era who made all of the great technological advances. Instead of the technology we have today, steampunk suggests a world running on clockwork mechanisms, brass and steel, and in the case of Leviathan genetic engineering that we can still only imagine.

That is the world that Alek and Deryn inhabit–a world changing before their eyes as World War One begins in Europe. Westerfeld weaves the two teenagers’ stories together to create a seamless picture of both the Clanker and Darwinist lifestyle. Their two paths also converge as both characters realize that their futures lie far from their European homes.

Leviathan might be the book I was most excited to read in 2009. It was also one of the best. As usual, Westerfeld’s writing is pitch-perfect blending science, action, and brilliant characters to create a book made of pure magic. It hardly seemed possible, but for me this book has far surpassed all of Westerfeld’s previous (awesome) books.

Keith Thompson’s brilliant illustrations set the mood for the story and bring the world of the Clankers and Darwinists to life in intricate line drawings**. The American/Canadian and Australian editions of Leviathan also feature full color endpapers with an allegorical map of Europe as drawn by Thompson*** that only adds to the book’s charm.

The series will continue with Behemoth.

* You can read more about steampunk in “Steampunk: Reclaiming Tech for the Masses” by Lev Grossman in the December 14, 2009 issue of Time Magazine (Grossman quotes Westerfeld in the article)

**If you need even more reasons to read this book, be sure to watch the Leviathan Trailer on Youtube to see some of Thompson’s illustrations quite literally come to life.

***You can view The Grand Map on Westerfeld’s blog where Thompson also provides an in-depth commentary on the making of the map.

Possible Pairings: We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett, The Spiderwick Chronicles by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove, The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox, Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist: Flight of the Phoenix by R. L. LaFevers with illustrations by Kelly Murphy, Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, Jackaby by William Ritter, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, Everland by Wendy Spinale, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud, Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne, The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, Firefly (television series) The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (graphic novel and movie), The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne (television series), Serenity (movie)