Saturday, February 19, 2011

Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

(Book #2 in the Leviathan Trilogy)
Genre: YA steampunk
Pages: 485 (hardcover)
Published: October 2010 by Simon Pulse
Series recommended for: Uglies fans, steampunk and science fiction fans as well as history buffs

The behemoth is the fiercest creature in the British navy. It can swallow enemy battleships with one bite. The Darwinists will need it, now that they are at war with the Clanker powers.Deryn is a girl posing as a boy in the British Air Service, and Alek is the heir to an empire posing as a commoner. Finally together aboard the airship Leviathan, they hope to bring the war to a halt. But when disaster strikes the Leviathan's peacekeeping mission, they find themselves alone and hunted in enemy territory.
Alek and Deryn will need great skill, new allies, and brave hearts to face what's ahead.
My Take: 

Scott Westerfeld is pretty much my YA literary hero.  I've never read a single one of his books that I didn't absolutely love, and Behemoth is no exception.

The book is the sequel to Leviathan, a fast-paced and infinitely clever steampunk novel set in an alternative and decidedly steampunk-ed era of World War I.  The Central Power countries are all 'Clankers'-- they harness advanced war technology in the form of enormous and sometimes android-like war machines designed to devastate their Entente enemies.  The Entente powers-- specifically the UK, Russia, France, and apparently Japan-- are the sworn enemy of all Clanker nations.  They are Darwinists, whose genius genetic scientists have engineered incredible biological weapons as in the speculations of Charles Darwin.  Cutting out all my nerd talk-- Darwinists battle using powerful and incredible animals specifically designed for war.

In this latest installment of the trilogy, our royal-born hero Alek and gutsy heroine-in-disguise-as-a-hero, Deryn, fly on the gigantic ecosystem ship Leviathan to Istanbul in the Ottoman Empire (aka Turkey).  The Empire is a melting pot of Clanker mechanics and Darwinist animals and thus far has remained neutral in the war.  But they may not remain so for long if Dr. Barlow, granddaughter of the great Charles Darwin and Alek and Deryn's fellow passenger on the Leviathan has anything to say about it.  For Dr. Barlow has a gift for the Ottomans: a triad of mysterious eggs which she believes can turn the course of the war and save the world from further destruction. But the Germans are in Istanbul, too, and they're determined to make Alek, son of the murdered Austrian archduke and heir to his empire, vanish from the eyes of the world forever.

This is another book which involves history, and, as those of you who've read my reviews of historical-type books before know only too well, I tend to go a little crazy with the political summaries and war-era rants and yada yada.  *Winces*. Yeah, I really am sorry.  All blabber aside, I really enjoyed Behemoth every bit as much as the phenomenal Leviathan.  The books have such a wide audience, from adults to kids younger than twelve.  The weight of Deryn/Dylan's secret as a girl posing as an airship man makes a reader turn the pages as quickly as the constant suspense, war action, and intrigue.  We have a new kick-a female heroine thrown in the mix in the form of Lilit, an Ottoman revolutionary's daughter who is five hundred kinds of awesome and strong.  It's easy to see a love triangle forming between Alek, Lilit, and Deryn-- and it's not the one you would expect!  I was delighted-- that's not a word I typically use, but yeah, I was delighted.  Wholeheartedly recommend this one-- and Leviathan if you haven't already read it, of course.

Cover: 2/5 (not impressed-- I'm not even entirely sure if this is Alek or Deryn, but the blush is an odd effect)
Premise: 5/5 
Characters: 5/5 
Plot: 5/5 
Overall Rating: 5/5


Kristin said...

I LOVE Scott Westerfeld and have been meaning to start this series for awhile! It's on the TBR! Great review!

Kristin@ My Bookish Ways

Ava said...

I have the worst mixed feelings about whether to read this book or not. I didn't like the first one because of all the war stuff was just too much for me. But then we're covering WWI in my history class, and I started to appreciate how awesome Westerfeld's alternate history really is. So that made me really want to continue the series. And I did really hope to see romance develop between Alec and Deryn. The lack of that in the 1st book was diappointing, but maybe it starts to happen in this book? I'm not too happy to hear that there might be another girl to compete with for Deryn, though! (I guess this means I do care a little about the characters and probably should read it.)

Wow. Long comment. Well, I really wanted to say all that about this book. And I probably will read it now. Thanks for convincing me with your review!

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