Leviathan (The Leviathan Trilogy)

by Scott Westerfeld

Hardcover, 2009

Call number



Simon Pulse (2009), Edition: First Edition, 448 pages


In an alternate 1914 Europe, fifteen-year-old Austrian Prince Alek, on the run from the Clanker Powers who are attempting to take over the globe using mechanical machinery, forms an uneasy alliance with Deryn who, disguised as a boy to join the British Air Service, is learning to fly genetically-engineered beasts.

Media reviews

The novel is a study in opposites, of boy versus girl, working class versus aristocracy, British versus German, and its overlying thematic division of Darwinists and Clankers gives all of these a distinctive torque, while avoiding mapping neatly to any specific agenda. The novel’s concluding set
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piece features a grand, elegant and very satisfying hybridization that suggests that opposites can meet, collapse and mingle, and that this story has natural sequels, which I will undoubtedly read.
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Westerfeld writes gripping, relentless coming-of-age novels that are equally enjoyable by boys and girls, adults and kids, and Leviathan is no exception. I'm looking forward to volume two -- and many more to come.

User reviews

LibraryThing member richardderus
Wow. Really, just...wow. I love alternate histories, and I dote on steampunk, and I am learning just how fertile the YA vineyards are in both these realms. This book is a wonderful tale of an alternate WWI, fought between the Darwinist powers and the Clankers. That is, those whose fighting
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technology is genetically manipulated animal based, and those whose fighting technology is...well, technology.

Darwin's theories of evolution became available to manipulate and modify animals at a much earlier stage of reality than our own, and of course the first thing that was created was fighting machines. Well, duh, we're talking about humans here, and what do we love better as a species than killing each other? The author, whose prejudices are clearly against the killing of others, never preaches, though his subtext is pretty overt to adult readers.

The story's focus is on a teenaged Hapsburg prince, the son of Franz Ferdinand (the archduke, not the Scottish dance band), whose factuality I have no idea about...though it wouldn't surprise me if there was a large dollop of truth in it...as he attempts to survive the loss of his parents, the bewildering early days of the war, and the inevitable confrontation of his prejudices with the realities of the Great Evil Other Side, the Darwinists. It's a very good piece of storytelling, no doubt about it; it's also a subtle and undidactic meditation on the sense of self as it's constructed during our adolescence, with all the pressures and trials magnified by both war and the identity that the young hero didn't choose.

His opposite number, a Darwinist airshipman, is secretly a girl, and this fact would just get her bounced out of service...whereas the prince's withheld identity, though known to midshipman Dylan/Deryn Sharp, would get him imprisoned and used as a pawn in international politicking. Both identities are kept secret, thank goodness, or there wouldn't be a sequel.

Which had darn straight better be forthcoming soon! I liked this book, and I recommend it to all lovers of identity fiction, steampunk aficionadoes, and the odd curious tourist into this twisty piece of literary territory. It's a great first steampunk book. Enjoy!
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LibraryThing member fyrefly98
Summary: Leviathan tells the story of two young people on the eve of World War One. Deryn is a girl, and thus barred from military service, but she's pretending to be a boy in order to join the British Air Force. However, the Air Force is not just Sopwiths, not by a long shot. In Westerfeld's
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version of history, Darwin discovered not only the theory of evolution by natural selection, but also DNA, and since his time his followers have been building new life forms from the building blocks of others. The largest is the Leviathan, a giant zeppellin-like airship modeled on a whale (as well as a host of other creatures), and a more prestigious service assignment than a young midshipman could dare to hope for.

The other storyline follows Prince Alek of Austria-Hungary. When his parents are assassinated, he is hustled out of the castle by Count Volger, his father's longtime advisor. In an instant, Alek has become an important pawn in a game of political maneuvering that he did not realize he even belonged to, and to escape to safety, they must flee unnoticed in a Walker - a mechanized battle robot.

Alek and Deryn's stories intersect when the Leviathan is shot down near Alek's hideout in Switzerland. Although the Darwinists and the Clankers are typically enemies, the two must become unlikely allies if either of them are to survive.

Review: Steampunk is not normally my cup of tea. Conceptually, I think it's neat, and visually, steampunk-inspired stuff is typically gorgeous, but as a genre, it's never done much to crank my gears. (Terrible pun fully intended.) So I was a little bit wary of Leviathan at the outset, but since Westerfeld's generally pretty reliable, I decided to give it a go.

And I'm really glad I did. I quite enjoyed Leviathan; maybe because of Westerfeld's skill at telling interesting stories with likable characters; maybe because it's not in-your-face about its steampunkiness, and thus it reads more like historical fiction; maybe because I am a huge sucker for any time an author can sneak some biology into their fiction (see also: Barbara Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer, and Westerfeld's own Peeps.) I had a great time listening for all of the little history of science references that Westerfeld snuck in throughout the book, and got to feel briefly smug every time I caught one.

Actually, Westerfeld managed to hit two of my buttons: not only am I a sucker for biology in fiction, I also really like the "girl disguises herself as a boy to enter military service" plot device (see also: Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness quartet, and L. A. Meyer's Bloody Jack series.) Both Deryn and Alek were interesting and well-developed characters, and although I spent early chapters wanting to kick Alek in the shins and tell him to stop being such a moron, he's at least got a believable excuse for his naivete.

I also enjoyed the setting; I haven't read nearly as much fiction set in World War I as in World War II. Westerfeld helpfully includes an author's note that lays out what parts of his story are true, what parts are based on truth but modified to fit his alternate world, and what parts were made up for the sake of the story.

Throughout the book, the action moves along at a good clip, managing to work the details and descriptive world-building into the story without slowing down the flow of the narrative. I was never totally emotionally involved in the story, but I was always interested, with the result that I tore through the audiobook much faster than normal. The ending was kind of abrupt - nothing is resolved, but the characters get to a temporary bit of safety and then the book just ends. I can see why the break was made where it was, but it's still a little annoying - I would have definitely picked up the next book anyways, so the cliffhanger feels like a bit of overkill. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: It's hard to recommend a book to others when I'm still surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. Fans of steampunk or alternate history, or entertaining young adult novels with fast-moving adventure storylines will for sure want to pick this up. Otherwise, it sits at this strange boundary between sci-fi and historical fiction, and folks who are fans of one but not the other may find the crossover either really intriguing, or they may find it thoroughly annoying. I'm one of the former, happily, but I suspect reactions will vary.
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LibraryThing member norabelle414
Holy guacamole, this book was awesome!
This is the story of two boys. One of them is actually a girl who dresses up as a boy so she can join the air force - which in this world fly not airplanes but GIANT GENETICALLY ENGINEERED SEA CREATURES FILLED WITH HYDROGEN. The other boy is actually a boy and
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actually the only son of the late Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Yes, THAT Franz Ferdinand. Because he's the unwanted heir to the Hapsburg throne, he is on the run from the Austrians and Germans in a GIANT TWO-LEGGED STEAMPUNK ROBOT THING. Also there are illustrations!

There's no reason for me to say much more because as you read this you are either a) disgusted, b) nodding emphatically because you have already read it, or c) already on your way to the library or bookstore. When you get back, and zip through this book in a day or so, make sure you read the afterward. I usually skip them, but this one was very good.

Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member Aerrin99
Scott Westerfield is one of my favorite YA authors, and he doesn't disappoint in the least here. Leviathan is a fantastic adventure in an alternate past where Britain employs marvelously crafted beast-machines created by smooshing the best bits of nature together and Germany (and Austria) battles
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with flying and walking machines of war awesome enough to fulfill any steampunk fantasy.

What's best about Westerfield, though, is his ability to drop you into an unbelievable world and make it, with a few swift and sure strokes, utterly believable. The characters live and breathe, the atmosphere is fantastic, the language serves to build the world, and the action is engaging.

I almost didn't notice that by the end of this book, very little in the way of actual plot had happened. It feels, in retrospect, a little bit like the prologue to what's /really/ coming. But it was so much fun that I didn't care.
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LibraryThing member edspicer
Westerfeld, Scott. (2009). Leviathan. Illustrated by Keith Thompson. New York: Simon and Schuster/Simon Pulse. 440 pp. ISBN 978-1-4169-7173-3 (Hardcover); $19.99.

Steampunk is a term that is gaining momentum, gathering steam, so to speak. It refers to books that have a Victorian sensibility and a
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stripped down technology. We can see the gears and the inner mechanisms at play. It is also, as Westerfeld states in the author’s note, “… as much about possible futures as alternate pasts. It looks ahead to when machines will look like living creatures, and living creatures can be fabricated like machines. And yet the setting also recalls an earlier time in which the world was divided into aristocrats and commoners, and women in most countries couldn’t join the armed forces—or even vote. That’s the nature of steampunk, blending future and past.” (pp. 439-440). In this book we are on the verge of World War I. The Leviathan is a whale constructed by the British Darwinists. It flies. The Germans have their “Clankers,” which are steam powered metal robots. Alek’s parents have been killed and Alek is in line to be the next ruler of the Austo-Hungarian Empire, except that his father has taken political steps to render his claim to the thrown useless. Nevertheless, there are those who wish him dead and those who wish to use his connections for their own selfish ends. Deryn is a commoner in the British Air Service with an extremely dangerous secret—she is a girl. The vicissitudes of world war draw these two together onto the Leviathan for an adventure that will be continued in the next book. This book reminds me of the Printz honor winning title, Airborn by Kenneth Oppel and it may well follow Airborn to the Printz circle this January. It is my favorite adventure story this year—as much for its inventive (yet plausible) looks into the future and the questions it asks readers of their own past and the future that history shapes. The excellent, high quality, production value of this book is worth noting. Buy this one for all middle school and high school libraries and watch for the next book.
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LibraryThing member GingerbreadMan
There’s no other possible place to start this review than here: This is an utter orgy for lovers of world-building. In 1914, Europe is divided into two power blocks. The Clankers – Germany, Austria-Hungary and their allies, are all about kerosene-driven technology. Their war machines are
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heavily armed walkers (because how else would they get around? On treads, like farm equipment!?) of all sizes, from small scouts to huge, eight-legged land frigates. On the other side are the Darwinists – Britain, France and others, who have turned from the polluting path of machinery, to instead use Darwin’s discovery of DNA to create beasts to aid them in all tasks. The Darwinists menagerie includes flechette dropping bats, six legged hydrogen sniffers, flying jellyfish and many more bizarre creatures. The tension between the two fractions is growing, and their different approach to technology isn’t helping.

The assassination of Arch Duke Ferdinand and his wife finally gets the wheels of war to start turning. And before he even knows what’s happened, the couple’s young son Alek, potential heir to the entire empire Austria-Hungary, is on the run for his life along with a small group of loyalists. After them is the hulking german war machine. They must make it to neutral Switzerland in their Cyklop Stormwalker before Alek can even think about mourning.

Back in England, foulmouthed and streetwise Scottish lass Deryl sneaks her way into the Royal Airforce by pretending to be a boy. Flying has been her dream ever since she was a little girl. Through some strange coincidences she soon finds herself aboard Leviathan, a giant flying beast on a secret mission to the Ottoman empire. They are over France when war breaks out.

Westerfeld’s version of WW1 Europe is just mind-bogglingly cool. On top of that, this is a charming, straight up YA novel. A rich boy finding he can cope with dirt under his fingernails, a strong female lead and lots of adventure. Not too much depth here – even the theme of losing your parents is barely brushed upon – but tons of fun. Admittedly, I wish Westerfeld would have dared to play just a little with genderbending in the young love story bound to unfold here. And the second part of the book is too local and too much about pure action suspense for my taste. And the ending is kind of silly, even for the first part in a series. But Westerfeld can write, and he knows his way around a tight little plot. Oh, and did I mention the world-building? I did? Okay then.
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LibraryThing member galleysmith
Westerfeld is a master storyteller.

Can I say it again?


In Leviathan he’s crafted a wonderful mix of creative historical fiction with the scifi’ish stylings of steampunk. But that’s nothing in comparison to the plot AND character driven story constructed that can appeal across age and
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gender lines. Have I mentioned the book itself is a work of art? Because it is. It’s filled with spectacular illustrations. If for some reason you find your imagination can’t put a visual together for the many unique settings and characters he’s devised then the many lovely pages certainly will.

Heck, I’d buy the book for that alone.

But wait! You shouldn’t pick up the book for that reason alone.

Why? Because it’s got a great story.

There is action a-plenty in Leviathan. Whether soaring through the sky as a passenger in a Darwinist airship or pounding across the land in a metal war machine it’s a race against time and war. Told from the perspective of the two main characters Aleksandar and Deryn we see the events of their singular lives eventually collide to create a perilous, yet potentially fruitful, journey.

Aleksandar is being hunted. The son of now assassinated parents he must be secreted away to a place of safety in order to assure his future ascension to the throne.
As part of that attempt he and his protectors cross paths with Deryn and her shipmates as they navigate the airways in an attempt to further their own mission. Delivery of precious cargo.

So let’s talk characters shall we? What’s most impressive about Leviathan is that Westerfeld has created powerful and compelling male and female lead characters.

Aleksandar is a wonderful combination of haughty, regal, brave, and childlike wonderment. Sheltered his entire life, he’s quick to adapt to his new situation and surroundings while bearing the burden of hope for his people.

His counterpart Deryn is all things fearless. A girl pretending to be a boy she’s not the picture of asugar and spice in this story. A tomboy at heart, in her mind girls can do everything just as well as boys, maybe even better. Don’t worry though, there is a certain softness to her, an appealing need to do what’s right at all costs.

Together Aleks and Deryn are the perfect friends.

There is also a cadre of unique and interesting secondary characters in Aleksandar’s caretakers and Deryn’s shipmates. This is an eclectic group that play essential roles in how the story progresses. Steadfast and loyal Aleks’ saviors protect his life with their own while Deryn’s shipmates and the quirky doctor she is tasked with keeping after all provide for some light-hearted and entertaining moments.

World building is another skill Westerfeld has undertaken with great finesse. Infusing World War I history within a time of Darwinist creatures and Clanker machines he’s constructed an otherworldly yet familiar feeling. We know just enough to be comfortable yet there are still these fantastical human and man made elements that provide an air of unexpectedness and mystery.

This book most definitely has it all.

But wait! There’s more….

While I do have Leviathan in print I ended up listening to it on audio. How glad I am that I did because doing so only added to the experience.

Narrated by the awesomely talented Alan Cumming I knew from the jump I’d adore it. Boy was I right, listening to Leviathan on audio gave it an air of authenticity. Cumming was the absolute perfect choice and did a great job of giving the story a very European vibe. He created individual personalities for all of the characters (though I will say that at times Volger sounded so much like Arnold Schwarzenegger that I half expected to hear him say “I’ll be back”) and infused pitch perfect emotions for each of the situations they were placed in. It was truly an amazing listen.

No matter how you partake of Leviathan, be it print or audio, all that matters is that you do. I strongly encourage it!
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LibraryThing member xtastethesky
Title: Leviathan
Author: Scott Westerfeld
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format: Paperback
Length: 464 pages
Rating: 4/5

Right away when I started this novel I realized that it is pretty close to nothing I have really read before in the current YA market. The novel, the first in a new trilogy by Scott
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Westerfeld, is an alternate history of WWI. It starts out with Alek, the illegitimate son of the Archduke Ferdinand, is playing in his room. He is then awoken in the night, and told by his teachers he's off onto a lesson his father prepared for him. Once on their way the ball is dropped, both his parents had been assassinated, and he needs to flee Austria because there are people who want him killed.

On the other side of the continent, in England, there is Deryn Sharp who desperately wants to be part of the British Air Service, the one problem? She's female. Hiding her identity she takes on a new name, Dylan, and has her brother tutor her and goes in for a test to become a member, but during her test something goes terribly wrong and she's suddenly thrust into tricky situations that lands her on Leviathan, one of the British's largest aircrafts, as a midshipman.

Now, I haven't even told you the most interesting part, the bit that makes this something new - the European continent is split, as it is in WWI but also along other lines, the Clankers and the Darwinists. The Clankers (such as Austria, Serbia, and the Ottoman Empire) are all in favor of machinery, huge machines, think like the machines in Star Wars, believing the creatures from the Darwinists are "godless". The Darwinists, in contrast, have huge creations of their own, but they're all living. Each creation is the right combination of different animals to create a contraption that they can use. So the Leviathan? A huge whale cross over that you could compare to something like a blimp. And what did Alek run away on? A huge Cyklop Stormwalker (think something similar to the Star Wars walkers).

Overall I found this novel incredibly interesting. I haven't read an alternate history, probably ever, at least not one geared towards young adults. I also love that this is a retelling of WWI, mainly because I've always found WWI more interesting than WWII, probably has something to do with the fact that you're beaten over the head with WWII history as soon as you can vaguely understand what "history" is. While this retelling isn't completely accurate (Westerfeld clues you in on such discrepancies in the afterword), it's still very good.

I really enjoy the characters, especially Deryn. She's a very strong female character that I sometimes believe is missing from some novels today. I really love how she takes charge of situations, and for the most part (like when it doesn't threaten her secret/position in the Air Service) doesn't take crap from anyone. She's a pretty strong role model, and I'm excited to see it here in this novel.

My only complaint is the pacing. It's a very slow going novel, which is normal for your typical war novel, let alone a novel setting up a trilogy that is based around said war. The pacing is something you can get over really quickly once you're sucked into a world of Darwinist and Clanker creations (my brain is still trying to wrap itself around some of the creations that were described - even if there were some pictures to go along with it).
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LibraryThing member -Eva-
From the very first pages, the characters in this story pulled me in. Their respective struggles are apt for the depicted time and since there are parallels to actual history, it was so easy to accept Westerfeld's amazing world building without any trouble. I have read the author's Uglies series
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and although I thought that series was very good, I think there's a huge probability that this one will outshine it by far, mainly because the stakes are so much higher in this one with World War looming over the characters' every move.

And then there are the absolutely beautiful illustrations, which aren't just aesthetically appealing, but also helpful. Sometimes the text threatens to get slightly too technical, but most of the time it is rescued by supplying a drawing instead, which is rather a clever choice by the writer to fit in more action while still getting his point across. My only problem (and it's hardly an actual problem) is that the second I finished I needed to rush out and get the second part of the series, if only to see what would hatch from those intriguing eggs.
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LibraryThing member msf59
Of course, it’s a well known fact that Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife were assassinated, kicking off World War I. Our story begins this way but then quickly takes a wicked left turn, plunging the reader into a fantastical alternate history, following young Prince Alek, the sole heir of the
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Archduke, as he flees his own country and lands smack in the middle of an epic conflict.
This is a battle between the “Clankers” (the Germans), who rely heavily on machines, and the “Darwinists” (the British),who have created genetically altered animals. Creatures engineered for war, transportation and everyday tasks. One of these is a giant airbeast, a cross between a whale and a zeppelin, called a “Leviathan”.
This is a cleverly inventive, exciting page-turner, which also benefits from beautiful black and white illustrations. This is my first “official” steam punk novel and the first of a trilogy.
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LibraryThing member jolerie
The Archduke and his wife have just been murdered. Their son, Alek, a prince with title, but no power, a royal with no thrown to rule is on the run from a country that has betrayed him.
Deryn, aka Dylan, a girl masquerading as a boy joins the ranks of solders sworn to protect the British empire
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from enemies, finds herself with no training, but a battle to fight nonetheless.
The world is divided into Beasties and Clankers. It is a war of politics, of government secrets and conspiracies, of animals versus machines. Two unlikely friends, hesitant to trust the other with their secrets, but with the threat of war looming on the horizon, they will have no choice but to forge a tentative alliance.

Steampunk can only be good if you can actually visualize the described foreign world, filled with inventions and creatures that are anything but familiar. Westerfeld has written a steampunk that is both accessible to those who are new to the genre and refreshing for seasoned readers alike. The drawings interspersed throughout the story are absolutely marvellous and they provide a visual commentary that helps those of us who struggle with the strange sights, sounds, and images. Highly recommended for anyone interested in trying out steampunk as well as those who have already fallen in love with the genre.
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LibraryThing member kreierso
Wildly imaginative creatures and machines are brought ot life in Westerfield's new series set in Europe hovering on the edge of WWI. His characters of Deryn Sharp and Prince Alek are characters that young adult readers will cheer for. A must have for school libraries.
LibraryThing member BookAddictDiary
I'm typically not much of one for steam punk. While I find the concept of steam punk to be very interesting, it just seems incredibly difficult to pull off well, especially in book form (not to mention YA book form). I haven't read any of Westerfeld's other work, but was fascinated by the ideas
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behind Leviathan so I decided to give it a spin.

Leviathan is a steam punk re-imagining of World War I. In this world, Austria-Hungary battles England with massive clunking machines and England owns a massive whale of a ship called the Leviathan. Young Prince Aleksander Hapsburg flees when he discovers that he has an empty title and finds his way across Europe as World War I erupts and the Hapsburg dynasty falls.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. It's strange, but strangely likable. Alek is an interesting enough character, but the world that Westerfeld weaves here is a rich and believable alternative history that sucked me in from the first page. It doesn't hurt that Westerfeld is akso a fabulous writer who is clear, easy to understand and just downright enjoyable to read.

Leviathan also features some wonderful artwork that helps create the gritty yet somewhat lyrical feel of a steam punk Europe. Sadly, the characters in Leviathan are easily forgettable, while the world will stick with me long after I put it down.
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LibraryThing member eljabo
I've been dying to read this book because I'm such a huge fan of Scott Westerfeld's other books. For the record, Leviathan is NOTHING at all like Scott's other books.

With that said, I still really enjoyed reading it. I would say this is more of a middle school, early high school book than true
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young adult. The writing was a little more juvenile than I had hoped.

Sadly, it actually took me a few minutes to figure out that this was an alternative history book. I was thinking to myself I don't remember reading anything about Stormwalkers in my history classes many moons ago. Then I got to the flying whale and thought, "Hmmm...something doesn't seem quite right here."

I think boys would like this book a lot. It's been awhile since I've read a book with pictures, but I enjoyed them because it gave me an idea of the weird stuff I was reading about.

I actually have never heard of steampunk, which makes me feel ancient. I had to google it, which makes me feel slightly hipper.

Overall, it was a good book - I'm curious to see what the next one will be like!
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LibraryThing member book_worm127
Leviathan is one of the most original books that I've read lately. Or ever, actually. I'm so used to reading books that speculate about the future that it was refreshing to read a book that speculated about the past, and added some things to make it a little bit more interesting. This was my first
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venture into the land of steampunk and I wasn't disappointed in the least. Most of the other elements of the story were normal, but the steampunk edge made it so much more awesome.

In the beginning we are introduced to Alek, whose parents were just assassinated. His father was the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose assassination, as we all know, helped trigger WWI. Then we meet Deryn, who wants to be an airman, but can't because she's a girl and girl's are not allowed, so she disguises herself as a boy. To complicate the matters Austria, where Alek is from, is a Clanker nation that relies on machines while England, where Deryn is from, is a Darwinist nation that relies on scientifically created animals. We follow them separately until their paths collide about half-way through.

I thought that Leviathan was very enjoyable, though not quite worth five stars. The storyline was great and I enjoyed reading from both of the main characters' point of view. I really enjoyed the pictures scattered throughout the book, they really helped me imagine the machines and animals. One thing that brought the book down for me were the long descriptions of the machines. When I read, I don't need to know every single detail of something the first time I read about it, because most likely I'll forget everything that I just read by the next page anyway. The action was also hard for me to picture, and I'm not really sure why that was. Even so, I really enjoyed the book as a whole, and I can't wait for the next one to come out!
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LibraryThing member MickyFine
In the summer of 1914, war is brewing between the allied Austro-Hungarians and Germans and the British. On another level, it will be war between Clankers, who use steam-based machinery, and Darwinists, who use fabricated animals instead of most machinery. In the midst of the cascading events that
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will lead to World War I is Alek and Deryn. Alek is the orphaned son of the assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand, trying to hide from those who might try to kill him as well. Deryn is a Scottish girl who has disguised herself as a boy, Dylan, in order to serve in the British Air Force aboard the giant Darwinist airship, Leviathan. With war hovering on the horizon, the two are drawn into peril and adventure that surpasses everything they could have imagined.

This novel is absolutely wonderful and includes all of the best aspects of steampunk and alternate history. The story is richly detailed and the world building is done effortlessly, describing a delightful alternate world. The descriptions are greatly aided by the beautiful illustrations by Keith Thompson, which are gorgeously detailed. The story moves at a great speed and alternates the perspectives of Alek and Deryn, which builds suspense and also allows the reader two very different viewpoints from the universe Westerfeld has created. There are sparks of humour, mostly from Deryn, although Westerfeld does include some comments that are a nod at the reading audience who exist in the world outside of his fantasy. An excellent read and highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member gayla.bassham
I was really looking forward to this, but I ended up thinking it was kind of a mess. It felt like a really, really, really long first chapter in a way--all setup and no payoff--and Alek and Deryn were such stock characters. The world-building was interesting, but not so interesting that I'll pick
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up volume 2. I've read Uglies, so I know that Westerfeld can do better.
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LibraryThing member 4sarad
I put off reading this book for some time because it didn't sound like it would be up my alley. Lots of action, lots of adventure, and... steampunk? It just didn't sound appealing, but I was SO wrong! This was an excellent read and I can't wait to pick up the sequel. There is a lot going on and I
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really like the characters. Some of the phrases the main character uses really crack me up. Overall it's just a really good story and really well-written. Like I said, I'm looking forward to the sequel!
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LibraryThing member WhitneyD
"Leviathan" is the story of two young people who must face the wages of war together even though they are enemies. The story is about Alek and Deryn. Alek is a young boy who is heir to the throne and who is being hunted by the Germans after his mother and father were both killed. Deryn is a young
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girl who disquises herself as a boy so that she can join the British Air Service. Deryn and Alek are thrown together after her ship crashes near where he is hiding. Even though they are enemies, they must find common ground so that they can protect Alek from being discovered and end the war.

One way to connect this book to teaching is read it while you are studying World War I. Even though this book is more fantasy, it gives a good picture of how the war started and who the sides were. A second way is it could be used as a book to study the language and dialect of other countries. Deryne uses very specific dialict and it is interesting to read how she speaks. It can be contrasted to Alek's very formal, perfect English he has learned from his tutors.

I really enjoyed this book and I am interested to read the second one. It gives an interesting picture of war and the effects it can have on people who are very young. I really enjoyed it's creativity and fantasy. I don't like books about war, but this one was fun to read and I would read it in a classroom.
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LibraryThing member mmillet
Set in an alternate Europe at the outbreak of World War I, Leviathan is a mix of past and future technologies with Europe divided into two main groups: The Clankers, who favor machines and mechanics and the Darwinists, who have perfected the art of fabricating new animals for flight, travel and all
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kinds of work.In the middle of the night, fifteen year old Prince Alek of Austria is awakened to find himself bustled off into one of his families' stormwalkers, basically a tank that walks on two legs, after learning that both his parents have been killed. Remember those history lessons about what started WWI? Archduke Ferdinand getting killed, right? Yep, that's Alek's father. Surrounded by a small group of men his father selected long ago, including his sneaky-smart fencing instructor Count Volger, Alek and his compatriots are running for their lives across the continent.All her life Deryn has wanted to fly. Only problem is, in 1914, girls aren't allowed anywhere near the Royal Air Force of England but that isn't stopping Deryn. With the help of her brother, she becomes Dylan, a somewhat skinny, but tall youth, who impresses many with his daring and knowledge of aeronautics. As a boy, Deryn has some rocking good adventures, narrowly escaping a life of skirts and curtsies for a life in the sky, riding on the massive airship, the Leviathan.I can't stress how cool this book is. So many little details all rolled into one fantastically perfect book: the world building, the characters, the illustrations (oh gosh, the illustrations!), the rearranging of history - so perfectly clever. Told alternately by Alek and Deryn (2 chapters a piece), Leviathan firmly thrusts the reader into two opposite worlds, establishing a foundation of the politics and science of Europe as both race across the continent until their paths collide in the snowy alps of Switzerland. The adventure is non-stop as each new page brings Alek and Deryn closer together. Besides Deryn with her ability to simply DO ANYTHING, I'm totally in love with the clever-boots female scientist, Dr. Nora Barlow. With her bowler hat and mysterious caro, she's got more than a few secrets up her sleeve and the backbone to get things done.I've only read one other steampunk novel, 'Clockwork Heart,' and was not super impressed, but Scott Westerfeld gets it with 'Leviathan.' In his illuminating author's note, he said: "So 'Leviathan' is as much about possible futures as alternate pasts. It looks ahead to when machines will look like living creatures, and living creatures can be fabricated like machines...That's the nature of steampunk, blending future and past."Done and done. Mr. Westerfeld, I'm converted. Every since discovering Scott Westerfeld's Midnighter's Trilogy, I know I can always count on him to come up with an intriguing new premise and completely deliver on the execution. The only problem is, Leviathan is the first in a planned trilogy and I don't think I can wait possibly years to recover from that cliff-hanger ending.I can't finish talking about this amazing novel without mentioning Keith Thompson's fabulous illustrations. 50 black and white uber-detailed illustrations complement this amazing book - effortlessly bringing each machines, beasties, and of course, each and every fabulous character to life.
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LibraryThing member andreablythe
In an alternate history, the European powers are separated into Darwinists and Clankers. Darwinists (represented by England, France, and Russia) have developed the ability to genetically engineer creatures to suit any purpose. Clankers (represented by Germany and Austria-Hungary) have developed
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highly complicated and advanced, steam-powered war machines. When an Austrian diplomat is killed, the world finds itself on the brink of war. Alex, a Clanker, and Dylan, a Darwinist and girl disguised as a boy, soon find themselves wrapped up in the middle of an escalating political conflict.

I really enjoyed this book, which is told from the point of view of two very different young people, both of whom must hide their true identities for very different reasons. My only disappointment with this book was realizing that it is part of a series, which means that I will have to wait for the next book in order to finish reading the story.
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LibraryThing member geordicalrissian
Story = 4 stars. Concept = 5 stars! This is a great adventure novel for YA. There are the typical kids in a extra-ordinary scenarios. High jinks. Late night flights from danger. But the concept! Genetically engineered behemoths vs. steampunk mechas! And set in the timeframe of WWI. Wow! This was a
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fabulous book!
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LibraryThing member bookaddict85
Leviathan is a novel of alternate history. Westerfeld reinvents the war to end all wars creating a world of mechanical weaponry vs genetically engineered living animals. The Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Princess Sophie have been assassinated and their son Alex, is forced to run away in a
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giant, two legged mechanical contraption during the middle of the night. Alex’s father never listened when he was told he could not marry for love. An heir to an empire must marry for the good of the country. When Franz Ferdinand married Sophie he was forced to compromise, and accept the fact that any children would never be considered a legitimate heir. Alex grew up in a household, knowing nothing of his fathers would ever be his. His relatives wished he were never born. On the brink of war, Alex must fight for his life. The Austro-Hungarian empire wants to end the blood line to the throne. Alex, although not an heir is a threat. His tutors have become his guardians. Giving up their families, they have vowed to help Alex and abide by Franz Ferdinand wishes.
Along his journey Alex meets Deryn, a young girl posing as a male soldier in the British air service. All her life Deryn wanted to fly. Her father would take her up in an air ballon, she had excellent air sense. After her father dies, Deryn feels forced to be a proper lady. She always loved to fly, her only problem was girls were not allowed into the air service. With the help of her brother, Deryn disguises herself and is accepted into the service. Their worlds collide and an alliance is formed despite being on the opposite sides.
The characters were really great, I really enjoyed this novel. It was my first steampunk novel and I’m very excited to read the next one in the series. Westerfeld created a great original novel. I highly recommend it. The illustrations are amazing, it really helped create the world for me. Keith Thompson did an outstanding job!
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LibraryThing member RichardTu
Leviathan is a new series spearheaded by Scott Westerfeld.
Based on a fictional setting in WW1. The story fictionalizes what the war would be like if technology and weaponry was permitted with advance steam engine technology.

The story introduces a young prince named Aleksander, and his travels to
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escape death, after Aleksander’s parents are poisoned. He needs to escape quickly from his father’s fortress, because the Emperor wants him dead as well. No one can be trusted. That is the least of their problems when they board the Cyclop Stormwalker (a tank-like war machine).

Alek never dreamed they would have to hide from a six-legged dreadnought and an eight-legged Hercules (giant enemy tanks) on their way to a neutral land, Switzerland. When they get there they most surprisingly meet up with a Darwinist air-monster used in the military called the Leviathan, a fabricated whale that can fly. On it is a talented kid that just happens to be a … girl.

The story involves the encounter of these two teenagers thrust ed into conflict from opposing sides of war.

I'm about to finish this book and I am quite amazed with the use illustrations within the book. It definitely contributes the story and provides a fantastic description of the fictional technology.
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LibraryThing member deman88
It is 1914, and the Archduke Franz Ferdinand is murdered, but this is not Axis and Allies, this is Darwinist, the faction who genetically engineers their war machines, and the Clankers, who build their machines out of metal, oil, sweat, and tears. In the middle of this is Aleksander the heir to the
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throne, the son of the Archduke and a commoner. Orphaned he must travel to Switzerland in a large metal biped "Walker" for safety. And Deryn Sharp as a British Darwinist who disguises as a boy "Dylan" and joins the army. What will happen to these two on their journeys?

This is wonderful book that I recommend, Westerfeld delivers again and gives us another stupendous series.
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Locus Award (Finalist — Young Adult Novel — 2010)
Kentucky Bluegrass Award (Nominee — Grades 6-8 — 2011)
Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Award (Nominee — Young Adult — 2011)
Buckeye Children's & Teen Book Award (Nominee — Grades 6-8 — 2011)
Iowa Teen Award (Nominee — 2013)
Aurealis Award (Winner — 2009)
Oregon Reader's Choice Award (Nominee — 2012)
Grand Canyon Reader Award (Recommended — 2012)
CBCA Book of the Year (Notable Book — Older Readers — 2010)
Arkansas Teen Book Award (Nominee — 2011)
Ditmar Award (Shortlist — Novel — 2010)
Westchester Fiction Award (Winner — 2011)
Volunteer State Book Award (Nominee — Young Adult — 2012)
Evergreen Teen Book Award (Nominee — 2012)
Isinglass Teen Read Award (Nominee — 2011)
Rhode Island Teen Book Award (Nominee — 2011)
Locus Recommended Reading (Young Adult Book — 2009)
Best Fiction for Young Adults (Selection — 2010)




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