Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld.  Interesting book that I first heard about on the Writing Excuses Podcast.  The book is a Steampunk version of World War 1.  It was interesting and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series, although it might be a while before I get to it, a bunch of other stuff to read and it’s getting to be crunch time with my school stuff this semester.  Anyway, on with the review.

Book Stats

434 Pages


First book in its series


The book centers on two characters, Alek, who is the son of the Archduke Ferdinand and Deryn, a girl pretending to be a boy so that she can serve in the British Air Navy.  Both characters are young during the time of this book, about 15 years old.  Alek has a high class upbringing and has a lot of knowledge, but very little practical experience.  Deryn on the other hand is almost the exact opposite, having much more street sense and applied education than book knowledge.  Both characters were entertaining to read and seemed realistic in their actions.


The world is split into two different factions, the Clankers who have huge metal walking machines and the Darwinists, who have huge living machines.  Basically, Darwin discovered DNA and began fabricating combinations of animals to use instead of the machines that we normally use for everyday life.  Although it sounds very bizarre, it comes across very well in the novel.  Deryn comes from a more Darwinist perspective, while Alek comes from a Clanker background, this allows the author to show both perspectives on this strange world, and he also shows how people have strange thoughts about the machines and animals that they don’t deal with very often.  It’s very well done.


The book starts at the beginning of The Great War, for those who don’t know their history (and I must admit that WW1 is not my strongest point) the war began in large part due to the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand.  The two characters start separate in the story but are forced together about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through the book.  Even though it covers WW1 which most people know somewhat how it turns out, it still works because the story focuses on the two individual characters rather than the world as a whole.


The book started a little slow for me, which was partially due to the world needing to be explained.  Once I got into the book a little further, I really enjoyed it, both characters were believable in all of their actions (even the mistakes they made, they are just teenagers remember).  Another cool thing about the book is that there are illustrations throughout it, roughly one per chapter.  These are interesting as they show you the various creatures and machines throughout the world.  It’s definitely an interesting aspect of the novel and something I’ll look forward to seeing in the future novels of this series.

Overall Grade

This was a good read and I’m looking forward to reading the sequels.  Definitely a book I’d recommend for those who enjoy alternate worlds.


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