Westerfeld’s two main characters, a prince named Alek and a young midshipman named Deryn, are from two different worlds. Deryn is a Darwinist (who use real creatures as their ships, and so on) and Alek is a Clanker (who uses steam-powered machines that are similar, in some ways, to those of our past). Westerfeld mixes reality with fiction to create a masterful, engrossing novel about two teens who must fight to survive.
His novel is more than just an adventure story. It’s about war, about love, about family. And, of course, about coming of age. Deryn wants nothing more than to be able to fly, but because she’s a girl, she must pretend to be a boy in order to fulfill her dream. Alek, on the other hand, is a prince (the son of Archduke Ferdinand – a name we’re all familiar with in connection with World War I). He too must hide who he is, by pretending to be a commoner instead of the royalty he is.
The book is fun, with hints of sadness and fear (the loss of Alek’s parents, the fear they’ll be found by the Germans, Deryn’s worry that she’ll be exposed as a girl) that keep things exciting. Alek and Deryn do eventually meet and by the end of the novel, we’re left wanting more. Luckily, the squel to Leviathan (called Behemoth) will be released in early October of 2010.
If you like Leviathan, or if you want to read more in the steampunk genre, check out our display in the library. Here are some titles to get you started:
- Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series
- Airborn and Skybreaker by Kenneth Oppel
- Lamplighter by D.M. Cornish
- City of Ember and People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau
- Fullmetal Alchemist (manga series) by Hiromu Arakawa
- Un Lun Dun by China Mievelle
- The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
- New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear
- The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry
- The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist
- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
- The Scar by China Mieville
- Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
- The Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia
- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
- Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne
- Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
- The Time Machine by HG Wells
- War of the Worlds by HG Wells