Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Review- Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Last month I attended the KidLitCon conference in Seattle. The keynote speaker was Scott Westerfeld, so I took advantage of the situation and bought the entire Leviathan trilogy.

The first book in the series, Leviathan, is a 440 page YA sci-fi fantasy novel published by Simon Pulse in 2009. It is a unique combination of written story and creative illustrations.

The Story – In an alternate 1914, two teenagers are on a collision course with destiny. The world is divided into two factions, Clankers and Darwinists.
 Clankers are people who survive through the use of mechanical inventions, building amazing weapons and battleships that walk above the ground like mechanical spiders.

Darwinists are people who have manipulated DNA and created strange beasts that now are used for everything from airships to weapons. Among the Darwinists lives Deryn, a girl living as a boy so she can work in the British Air Service. Then there is fifteen year old Austrian Prince Alek, who is on the run from his own Clanker people after the assaination of his parents.

Deryn and Alek meet up in the snow covered mountains of Switzerland after the British air whale, Leviathan, is attacked and crash lands into a glacier. Alek, hiding out with a few of his loyal followers, helps the crew of Leviathan escape in exchange for safe passage to the Ottoman Empire.

My thoughts- I very enjoyable book filled with imaginative beasts and wonderful metal creations. I love the two main characters, Deryn and Alek. Truth be told, Deryn (Dylan) acts so much like a boy that I actually forgot she was a girl. The character of Alek is great because he is developing into a man, making decisions for himself, doing his own thing instead of what has been planned out for him. I see him growing into a real leader of people in the next books.

The illustrations, by Keith Thompson, are spectacular. The idea of having them in a YA novel is great. Who doesn’t like to see the very words they are reading come to life? Plus, the inventions and creatures described are so very complex and unreal, that the pictures are a necessary to fully comprehend the story.

The plot itself comes from history, the story of World War 1. By adding fictional elements to real life facts, the world that is created is familiar, but magical. I think my favorite thing is the subplot with Dr. Barlow, a determined female scientist who is transporting a case of mysterious creature eggs on the Leviathan. I can’t wait to find out what those eggs are.

A really positive read for kids 10 and up.
Buy it now from


  1. This sounds so good, I love to hear about positive books, especially for this age. You always introduce me to interesting books!

  2. This is one of my favourite YA trilogies. The larger story is so satisfying as is each book individually. I actually accidentally read Behemoth first, and enjoyed it in spite of having not read the first book. (then I raced back to the library to get Leviathan)

    All I want to know is how I didn't know about KidLitCon in Seattle last year?! I only live across the border and Westerfeld as keynote? Do I live under a rock?