Daily Archives: December 1, 2009

Smart Kid Reviews: Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan

Leviathan was my first encounter with Scott Westerfeld, but is sure not to be my last.  A longtime steampunk fan, I greatly enjoyed the characters and the story he spins in this vividly rendered alternative world. I then gave it to one of 4th grade science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts; here is his review:

This book is called Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. It takes place in 1914 and will be in a series.  It is a mix of fantasy adventure, coming of age, science fiction, and fiction and describes what would have happened in World War I if we had different technology and weaponry.  I really loved the sense of action, betrayal and crime.

The story introduces a young prince named Aleksander, his sword master Count Volger, his machinery master Klopp and their travels to escape death. After Aleksander’s parents are poisoned, they need to escape quickly from his father’s fortress, because the Emperor wants him dead as well. No one can be trusted.   That is the least of their problems when they board the Cyclop Stormwalker (a tank-like war machine).

There are two main groups – Darwinists, makers of fabricated live beasts and monsters and Clankers, users of machines.  These two groups usually fight. Aleksander is a Clanker.

Alek never dreamed they would have to hide from a six-legged dreadnought and an eight-legged Hercules (giant enemy tanks) on their way to a neutral land, Switzerland. When they get there they most surprisingly meet up with a Darwinist air-monster used in the military called the Leviathan, a fabricated whale that can fly.  On it is a whiz kid that just happens to be a … girl.

Girls are strictly not allowed in the Air Forces in England so Deryn (the girl) decided to disguise as a boy named Dylan. Her secret is threatened to be found out every day of this journey.

I really enjoyed the characters especially mysterious Count Volger who always looks to the dark side not the good. My favorite personality though is Deryn’s — always determined, nothing can blow out her hope.

Here is an example of the writing in Leviathan:

“Load the cannon!” Master Klopp cried to the men below.  Alek found himself deposited into the commander’s chair as the machine began to move.  He struggled with the seat straps, but a terrible thought took hold of his mind, freezing his fingers.  If they’re trying to kill me… it’s all true.

I really enjoyed all of the action and adventure in Leviathan. If you loved Lord of the Rings you will really like Leviathan – there is a sense of taking over the world in both. Clankers vs. Darwinists in Leviathan and in The Lord of the Rings, Good vs. Evil. I have read it twice, and I terribly enjoyed it and hope you do too.


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