Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Series: Leviathan Trilogy #1
Genre: YA, alternate history, steampunk
Published on October 6, 2009
Published by Simon Pulse
Read From: 2.1.12 - 2.2.12
Alek is a prince without a throne. On the run from his own people, he has only a fighting machine and a small band of men.
Deryn is a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She must fight for her cause - and protect her secret - at all costs.
Alek and Deryn are thrown together aboard the mighty ship Leviathan. Though fighting side by side, their worlds are far apart. British fabricated beasts versus German steam-powered war machines. They are enemies with everything to lose, yet somehow destined to be together.
My opinion is divided about this book. On the one hand, it is a very entertaining, attention-grabbing alternate history of WWI, with awesome steampunk machines and two very likable protagonists. Alek and Deryn are believable and resourceful kids. Deryn passes as a pretty darn convincing boy, and while I suspect a future "young romance" between her and Alek, the slight beginnings of it in this book don't ruin her character at all. The writing style isn't bad, nor nothing special. It works for the world of Leviathan, and while the illustrations are a little distracting, they add a lot to the enjoying of this story.
But I really didn't like England's fabricated beasts: genetically altered and engineered creatures that are grown to literally become living airships and whatever else they need. What has happened in this world is Darwin discovered how to manipulate DNA, and now humankind is able to mix the DNA of any animal into the DNA of other animals, creating grotesque and downright freaky creatures. Six-legged dogs with a double snout (not head; snout), talking lizards, whales that fly on hydrogen, bats that excrete lethal iron spikes. These are England's machines. All I can say is what was the Author smoking when he came up with that idea?!
The storyline itself is good, and as I said earlier, Deryn and Alek are likable. But the beasties are just too bizarre and disturbing; I liked all but that. And no, you don't get used to them after a while.
Others in This Trilogy: