Book Review: Leviathan – Scott Westerfeld
My introduction to Steam Punk was Cherie Priest’s book Boneshaker which I read back in 2009 after meeting her at the PNWA Conference. I loved it. I then read a Steam Punk anthology of short stories that I didn’t like so much, and I sort of shied away from the genre for a bit. I had heard many good things about Scott Westerfeld’s books, but I hadn’t actually picked one up until I found one while wandering through a bookstore in McMinnville, Oregon, last October. This book sat on my shelf for a couple of months until I picked it up on Christmas Day. I finished it a day later, and I’m now wondering, ‘What the heck took me so long?’
Leviathan is down to the core Steam Punk, with an alternate history, alternate reality bent on the early days of World War I, as seen through the eyes of a midshipman named Deryn (aka Dylan) Sharp in the British Air Service, and Alek, a Prince of Austria chased from his homeland by those who want to start a war. That plot sounds interesting, especially for those who enjoyed CS Lewis’ Horatio Hornblower (as I did). But in this alternate history, there are giant airships that are alive, and giant machines that walk on legs instead of tracks. In Westerfeld’s capable hands, this story is a real page turner, and I loved it.
This book is clearly targeted towards young adults, and even includes a number of wonderful illustrations. Adults should not be leery of reading this though, especially if you enjoyed tales of adventure as a child. This is the kind of book I would love to read a lot more of, and the kind of book I eventually hope to write. When I was a kid, I read and reread the Tom Swift books, and Edgar Rice Burrough’s Tarzan Series. This book is in the same vein, but definitely superior in quality and readability. It is, however, Science Fiction, and if you aren’t ready to accept things out of the norm, you probably won’t comprehend or enjoy this story.
I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Behemoth and I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves stories of adventure and has an open mind for Steam Punk.