Summary and book reviews of Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Leviathan
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  • Hardcover: Oct 2009,
    448 pages.
    Paperback: Aug 2010,
    464 pages.

    Publication Information

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Book Reviewed by:
Cindy Anderson

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Book Summary

It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.

Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way...taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure - one that will change both their lives forever.

The excerpt below is from Leviathan but does not include illustrations, to view the first three chapters including illustrations visit the publisher's website.

One

The Austrian horses glinted in the moonlight, their riders standing tall in the saddle, swords raised. Behind them two ranks of diesel-powered walking machines stood ready to fire, cannon aimed over the heads of the cavalry. A zeppelin scouted no-man's-land at the center of the battlefield, its metal skin sparkling.

The French and British infantry crouched behind their fortifications -- a letter opener, an ink jar, and a line of fountain pens -- knowing they stood no chance against the might of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But a row of Darwinist monsters loomed behind them, ready to devour any who dared retreat.

The attack had almost begun when Prince Aleksandar thought he heard someone outside his door....

He took a guilty step toward his bed -- then froze in place, listening hard. Trees stirred in a soft breeze outside, ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

Scott Westerfeld, author of the popular Uglies series for young adults, tries his hand at steampunk in Leviathan, an imaginative alternate-reality story featuring two teenagers who must cope with personal loss and isolation, and who learn the meaning of friendship in a time of war. But this book is no downer. Westerfeld takes readers along for the wild adventures of the two young protagonists. Written for a YA audience, this book is a fun read for adults as well.   (Reviewed by Cindy Anderson).

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Media Reviews
VOYA

The characters are not as engaging or the story as compelling as the many battle sequences, but there is much here to interest fans of Reeve's Hungry Cities series or the less-juvenile fantasies of Hayao Miyazaki.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The protagonists' stories are equally gripping and keep the story moving, and Thompson's detail-rich panels bring Westerfeld's unusual creations to life. The author's fully realized world has an inventive lexicon to match—readers will be eager for the sequels. Ages 12+

School Library Journal

Enhanced by Thompson's intricate black-and-white illustrations, Westerfeld's brilliantly constructed imaginary world will capture readers from the first page. Full of nonstop action, this steampunk adventure is sure to become a classic.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Two Imperial forces meet, one built with steam and the other built with DNA, producing rich, vivid descriptions of the technologies that divide a continent. The setting begs comparisons to Hayao Miyazaki, Kenneth Oppel and Naomi Novik, but this work will stand- or fly-on its own. Ages 12-15

Reader Reviews
Ciaran Peck

Leviathan
This was an amazing book and i would recommend it to all young adult readers.

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Beyond the Book

Leviathan's Illustrator
Keith Thompson, who contributed fifty illustrations for the interior of Leviathan, began freelancing as an artist in high school. After graduating, he studied illustration and continued his freelance work. He has contributed art for books, video games, film, and television.

Preparing the Leviathan illustrations involved a year of planning and working on the project, drawing the illustrations as author Scott Westerfeld wrote. He often asked questions of Westerfeld to find out his conception of the visual elements of the story.

In an interview with Irene Gallo on Tor.com, Thompson is asked if he was a fan of steampunk before Leviathan. He replies:

Yes, definitely. Since this is just the way I work ...

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