Tuesday, December 28, 2010

LEVIATHAN (Book 1 of Leviathan Trilogy)—BOOK REVIEW

This is the first review I’ve done since time immemorial, I’m really sorry about that, I was really busy with school. So here it goes. I’m going to review the book Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, the first book from the Leviathan Trilogy.

The plot:

The year is 1914. It is the start of the war between the Clankers (those that prefer machines) and the Darwinists (those that use fabricated animals.)

The story revolves around the separate adventures of Alek and Deryn. Alek is the son of Archduke Franz, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary and his wife, Sophie. Alek’s parents were assassinated that in turn caused a war between Austria and Serbia which started to spread around the continent. After his parents’ deaths, Alek was pursued by his own people, thus, he goes into hiding together with his fencing and mechaniks masters and two more people. With only this small crew and a fighting machine, Alek strives hard to hide, and strives harder to survive the war.

Deryn, on the other hand, dreams of serving the British Air Service. But her dilemma is dictated by her birth—women are not allowed to. So Deryn disguised herself as a boy named Dylan in order to fulfill her dream. She found herself aboard the Darwinist airship: Leviathan, where she struggled to hide her secret and was caught up with the war.

What will happen if these two meet? What will happen to the war? Which side are you on, the Clankers or the Darwinists?

Here’s my take on the book:

To set things straight, this is my first time encountering the Steampunk genre so forgive me guys if I'd lack the proper knowledge to review this book. Still, here goes...

In Leviathan, Westerfeld presented a carefully crafted tale that speaks of a world exhibiting an alternate history to that we know of and at the same time displaying the elevated possibilities of the future. He did this impressively and elaborately. He cautiously placed the elements of both the past and the future and let them meet in the time of the Great War.

It is a good thing that even though the story borrowed concepts from the real world, the story is still filled with the richness of Westerfeld’s originality. This is especially seen in how he created the different kinds of fabricated animals that were made by the Darwinists and also the innovative technology of the Clankers. But as both sides have greatness on their own, it is even more bizarre and wonderful how this author made these two forces clash.

The story did not necessarily say which side is right and which side is wrong, or which side is better and which is worse. The book plainly presented the story of both sides with Alek and Deryn at the center. Having said this, it is pretty much commendable how Westerfeld characterized both the main characters--one being well-mannered and sophisticated while the other one quite haughty. The interaction between them is also an especially significant part of the book, which Westerfeld successfully portrayed with much care, thought, and a lot of enthusiasm.

The only downside that I can see is that since people know, for a fact, the actual technological capabilities that the era had, it may be hard to disassociate the readers’ consciousness to that certain knowledge for them to fully absorb the story. It may be hard for the audience to infuse themselves to every nook and cranny the storyline portrays. But, in answer to this, Westerfeld had clearly indicated and clarified the line that divides  fact and fiction in the world of Leviathan, thus, making the disadvantage less troubling.

My last point goes to the illustrations on the book. Parts of the story were depicted with illustrations that were pretty much detailed. They practically gave off the same vibrancy/mood that the story itself showed. So, kudos to that!

This is a good start for a trilogy, all in all. I will definitely read the next books!

Leviathan is recommended for the younger readers and may also extend to the YA lovers.


  1. I really enjoyed this and Behemoth. SW is one of my favourite writers for children/YAs, I think his worldbuilding ability is very good, like you said, original and unique. I loved the illustrations also, they really added a lot to the story for me. The Uglies series is also fantastic.

  2. Thanks for your comment! It was my first time reading a book that he wrote and I was really blown by this story! Yeah, he is very great in creating great settings with great plots!