When she reached the prow of the ship, Deryn raised her field glasses to scan the horizon. A moment later, she saw the trees.
"Barking spiders." The words coiled like smoke in the freezing air.
"Down," Bovril said.
Ahead of the airship was an endless fallen forest. Countless trees lay on their sides, plucked clean, as if a huge wind had blown them over and stripped their branches and leaves. Strangest of all, every stripped-bare trunk was pointed in the same direction: southwest. At the moment, straight at Deryn.
The final book of the Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld finally released a few weeks back and I was glad to receive my book right away from the library. I'm not going to provide a plot summary here because it will be spoiler-ish for anyone who hasn't read the first two books and also because if you have read the first two books, I suppose you will be reading the third book as well, with or without synopsis. So I'll just talk about this book and the series in general and hope that if you haven't read this series yet, you will get to it soon.
This book starts off where we left the characters at the end of the second book - Behemoth. Although it took me a while to remember some of the events that happened in the previous book, the author helped me along on the way by providing a few strategically placed recaps. The recaps weren't completely rehashed, but were just minimal enough for me to remember the fainter aspects of the previous books. In that sense, I felt that Goliath could have stood on its own as a single book, although of course, you should read the previous two books to completely appreciate some of the references.
One aspect I like of Scott Westerfeld's books is his very strong female characters. They aren't strong in the sense that they do superhero stuff or are perfect people, but rather in the sense that these characters could be any girl, going through all the normal challenges of being a teenager and having all the normal desires for a good life. They are fallible, and thus very human. And yet, they go a small step ahead in pursuing their dreams or correcting a mistake or just plain doing the right thing. One of Leviathan's protagonist - Deryn - is a character I would love to meet. She pretends to be a boy in WW1 England, just so that she can serve on an airship. If her country finds out about it, no matter how many sticky situations Deryn has saved her airship from, or how many dangerous events she has participated in, they will court-martial her. I imagined there would be a very unpractical yet very happily-ever-after and manipulative ending. The kind of ending I would call cheesy. So, when I actually reached the ending, where Deryn/Dylan's gender is finally to be addressed, I was surprised by the turn it took. I have to say that the author stayed true to the custom of the times, didn't try to change history overnight, and although it was still an HEA ending, it was also a more practical one than I imagined.
The other thing I loved about this series is the liberty the author takes with creating steampunk stuff, be it machine-based or biological. There are all kinds of funky gadgets and animals that I would love to see in today's world. Sure, many of them are meant to be used as war weapons but I loved their sophistication. The amount of detail he gives to these creations lends a huge amount of genuineness to the steampunk world he has created. To add to it, Keith Thompson's illustrations are wonderful. If ever you decide to read this book, please read it in paper - the illustrations are truly eye-catching.
What I most loved about this book is the amount of actual truths in it. One of the main characters in this book - Nikola Tesla - was an actual physicist who lived through the WW1. The fictional Tesla is as eccentric as the real Tesla was known to be. There are also some true historical events cited in this book - a meteoric impact in Siberia in 1908, Tesla's research, an electric tower in New York and many others. Of course, in the afterword, Scott distinguishes between what was fact and what was fiction, but as I was reading, I tried to make my own guesses as well. And some of those were good examples of truth being stranger than fiction.
Although there are a few coincidences scattered through the book, I was willing to overlook those. For the most part, this book was very entertaining - I liked it better than Behemoth, though Leviathan still remains my favorite book of this trilogy. If you still haven't read it, you should. This book is a fabulous example of the steampunk genre.
I borrowed this book from my library.