Leviathan and Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld

Okay, about that steampunk challenge.

One steampunk book a month for a year.  Twelve steampunk reads.

I’m on my third in October.  I could space them out and list/review one a month, but that makes me itch.  I am just going to mention them as I read them, and don’t expect any real reviews from me because that’s too much like work.

Also, the first three have all been audiobooks that I downloaded from audible (if you sign up, tell them dallaspooks sent ya) and so what I will actually be discussing is a different experience than reading.

First, Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, and its sequel, Behemoth. These are YA (Young Adult) novels that have been getting fabulous word of mouth and I finally broke down and decided to read them listen to them. And I’m so glad I did. Set on the brink of World War I, Leviathan begins the night that Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated in Sarajevo, with their 15-year-old son being rousted out of bed and hustled away from the palace by a sinister pair of men–and straight into action-packed adventure which continues into its sequel. I don’t know how long the series is projected to be, but there are clearly more coming.

In the meantime in England a 15-year-old Scottish girl is pretending to be a boy so she can be an airman with the British Air Service, as her brother is and her father was before her. Again–straight into action-packed adventure.

In this revisioning of World War I the nations are the same and on the same teams, but many of the details are different.  The world building is superb. The German side are “Clankers” whose war machines are fantastical and mechanical. The English side are “Darwinists” who have created strange new creatures (or “beasties,” as Deryn calls them) to go to war.

Scott Westerfeld’s world is amazing. The action is almost nonstop but always inventive and fresh. The characterizations are rich. At the end of each book are author notes that describe what aspects of the books are true history and where Westerfeld got creative, and I was as fascinated by the real history as I was the books themselves. It was gratifying to see that some of the more interesting twists were historic facts that he’d woven sp deftly into his stories it was impossible for me to know what was real and what was new.

Alan Cumming as narrator is phenomenal. He reads with breathless energy, gives the characters appropriate and wonderful accents that enhance their personalities and backgrounds, and made me want to listen nonstop.  At a time when I was highly distracted by a lot of real life issues, these books were always compelling and easy to fall into.

I highly recommend them as audiobooks or to read. I may actually end up buying these books because the art looks pretty darned cool.

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12 Comments

Filed under Audible, Audiobooks, Books, Fiction & Literary, History, Novels, Steampunk, Steampunk Challenge, Young Adult

12 responses to “Leviathan and Behemoth, by Scott Westerfeld

  1. rikkiscraps

    Those two books are on my TBR list and I am really looking forward to them.

  2. I loved these books, especially the second one. What an amazing, creative story. I really enjoyed the mixing of the historical and fantastic, with the explanation at the end. Also the books have fantastic illustrations.

  3. I’ve only now read your post after posting my own link in the Challenge page, and was surprised at how much our reviews seem to have in common.

    Any idea when the next in the series will come out?

  4. Pingback: Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by Gordon Dahlquist « planet pooks

  5. I still want to read Patricia Brigg’s series, but I can never find the first book in the dang store and won’t vouratnlily start a series until I have the beginning. I also want to read PARANORMALCY by Kiersten White and the rest of Stella and Audra Price’s Eververse series.

    • I am so weird. I have only really wanted to read UK (or sometimes European) settings for a number of years, which is why I haven’t read Briggs or White, even though people I know love their work.

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