Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


The Weird Sisters
"Those godless things are everywhere," he muttered. "Always listening."

Deryn rolled her eyes. The other Clankers were even more twitchy about beasties than Alek. They seemed to think that everything living aboard the airship was out to get them.

"Aye, sir. But lizards only carry messages. They don't eavesdrop."

"And how can you be sure of that?"

(If you have't read Leviathan but plan to, or if you wish not to be exposed to spoilers, skip the following paragraph. The rest of the review is just a plain write-what-I-felt review.)

Deryn and Alek are finally aboard the Leviathan. Alek is the heir to the Austria-Hungary kingdom, while Deryn is actually posing as a boy so that she can serve as a midshipman on the Leviathan airship. No one knows that Deryn is a girl, but one person eventually suspects. Those aboard the ship hope to bring the war to an end, but it's not that simple. The Ottomans haven't yet joined the war, but recent actions by the British (Darwinist) have tipped the Ottomans towards the Germans (Clankers). To prevent that, the Leviathan is making its way towards the Ottoman empire, so that they can make a gift to the Ottoman king and thus win his favor.
(Potential spoilers over)

The Leviathan series is set against the World War I. Except, this is alternate reality. Although most of the fundamentals of the WW1 are retained, the author has changed enough facts about the WW1 to make this a fictional event in its own right. I've said this before - I'm not a fan of alternate reality. Buuuuuut, I'll swallow my words just for this series. There's something about the way this series is written that makes me want to read more. I stopped making comparisons halfway into the first book. Leviathan shared a lot of similarities with actual WW1 events, Behemoth even less. One thing I truly admired is how well Scott Westerfeld has mapped events in this trilogy to real events without making them appear contrived or duplicated.

Deryn continues to remain my favorite character in this series. Scott writes his female heroines really well. I noticed this in the Uglies series also. Deryn poses as a boy, Dylan, because girls weren't allowed to fight. She's content being a boy and doesn't like any girly traits or behavior. On the other hand, just like any girl, she has deep yearnings that she struggles against. For instance, she's falling in love with a certain someone, and wants him to notice her. A moment later, she remembers he doesn't even know she's a girl, and that fact makes her sad. Yet another moment later, she's chiding herself for thinking like a maiden in distress who needs help, and shakes herself back to the boy she is pretending to be. If this was a real movie, she would have received accolades for her brilliant acting!

Even with all the Clanker and Darwinist jargon, I was looking forward to more "technological innovations" of that period. While I didn't want to support the Clankers (obviously), I could relate more to them than the Darwinists, with their "godless" (as the Clankers love to say) fabricated animals. My favorite highlight of this book is the fabricated loris, that can perceive your emotions so well, warn you about approaching sounds of people/other creatures/machines. That's a pet I would love to have!

Did I mention the awesome artwork inside the book done by Keith Thompson? It would have been so hard to imagine a lot of the creatures and machines otherwise!

I borrowed this book from the library.


12 comments:

Mummazappa said...

I think the artwork adds so much to these books. And I love that SW's female characters are so cool and not simply there for romantic purposes. I agree that his writing and creations and language never seem contrived, he's very clever like that!

bermudaonion (Kathy) said...

Carl loved Leviathan, but I'm just not sure steampunk is for me. I'll have to tell him you enjoyed this one - he's been curious about it.

Marg Bates said...

I really need to read Leviathan. I bought it a while ago because the cover just looked so good.

Athira / Aths said...

I feel that I can really identify with Scott Westerfeld's heroines. They aren't too heroic, but feel like very normal brave girls. I can't wait to read the last book!

Athira / Aths said...

Kathy, you should give steampunk a try - it just might be for you. :) If Carl reads Behemoth, I can't wait to hear what he thinks of it.

Athira / Aths said...

All that Darwinist/Clanker ideology really got me hooked! It is a fascinating theory on which to base a story!

Athira / Aths said...

I hope you read it soon! It's a really wonderful alternate take on history!

Athira / Aths said...

You should certainly try steampunk! So far, Leviathan and Behemoth are the only books of this genre that I have read, but they are good enough that I may try other books from this genre.

Jan von Harz said...

Great review, cannot wait to experience this series for myself.

Athira / Aths said...

I'm sure you're in for a treat! I can't wait to hear what you think!

Coffee and a Book Chick said...

My nephew finished it and loved it and now I'm waiting for my sister to get through it! Argh! Can't wait for her to send it to m!

Athira / Aths said...

LOL! I can imagine how hard it is to wait! I would get so impatient too! Hope you get it soon! Can't wait to hear your thoughts!